A world record and two British records lit up a dazzling Friday night of athletics as the Müller Anniversary Games returned to The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Laura Muir (coach: Andy Young) brought back memories of the atmosphere at London 2012, as she sent the home crowd into raptures on her way to 1500m victory, breaking Kelly Holmes’ 12 year old British record in the process.
Tracking the pacemaker from the off, Muir continued to push hard over the final 300m to move clear of runner-up Sifan Hassan. Coming into the home straight with victory already in the bag, all eyes were on the clock as the gutsy Scot fought all the way to the line, stopping it at 3.57.49. That knocked nearly half a second off Holmes’ mark, set when she won Olympic gold in Athens in 2004.
Muir said: “Breaking the British record blows my mind a bit. I haven’t run a fast 1500m this year so I wanted to go out there and show the world what I can do – I think the performance shows what I’m capable of. My last race wasn’t a great one, but you can’t get much better than tonight.
“I’m in really good shape and the pace was good. The third lap I just had to keep working hard to make sure I brought it home – the crowd were amazing.”
There was success for the other Brits in the field too, as Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) ran a brave race for fourth in season’s best of 4.02.66, whilst Muir’s fellow Scots Eilish McColgan (Liz McColgan-Nuttall) and Steph Twell (Mick Woods) were rewarded with a personal and season’s best respectively as they stepped down from 5000m.
Nothing could top Kendra Harrison’s performance though, as the American broke the 100m hurdles world record with a scintillating 12.20 (+0.3) performance. Having broken the meeting record in winning her heat in 12.40, it was clear Harrison was in great shape and out to make up for missing out on a place in the American team for Rio a week ago.
As she did in her heat, the fast, flowing hurdler quickly moved clear of the field, but with the British public keeping a close eye on Porter and Ennis-Hill, it took a couple of seconds before the world record reached people’s radars. None more so than Harrison herself, who fell to the track in tears as soon as she realised.
“Initially I saw 12.5 and I was just happy to come out here and win. I was so happy when it came up and I was feeling really blessed. It shows that even if you don’t go out there and make the team, you have to keep going and be strong. I just ran my best and look what happened.
“To hear people call me a world record holder sounds remarkable. I wanted to come out here and show the world that I still have it, even though I won’t be going to the Olympics. I had to give it all I had.”
Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) was rewarded with a 12.70 season’s best as she finished sixth, whilst Olympic heptathlon champion Jess Ennis-Hill (Toni Minichiello) was eighth in 13.04 after producing the second best run of her career, 12.76, in her heat.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Usain Bolt gave the near sell-out London crowd the finale they were looking for on a gorgeous Friday evening at the Müller Anniversary Games, storming to 200m victory. After a false start and a green card, which just added to the tension, they finally got underway. It didn’t affect Bolt though, as he took victory in 19.89 (-0.3) to show he’s ready to defend his trio of Olympic titles in Rio.
“I’m getting there. I’m not fully in shape – I need more work. But over time I’ll be fine, I’ll just keep doing the work. The key thing is I came out here and won, but I’m always hungry for more. It is always great to come back here to London and compete; it is a lot of fun.”
Bolt was chased hard all the way though, with Alonso Edward second in 20.04 and home favourite Adam Gemili (Steve Fudge) third in a season’s best 20.07.
Right at the start of the programme a GB & NI quartet of Asha Philip (Fudge), Desiree Henry (Reider), Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) and Daryll Neita (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) smashed the British record to win the 4x100m relay by some margin. A blistering opening leg from Philip set the tone, with the rest of the quartet following suit to stop the clock at 41.81, almost three tenths of a second faster than their old mark set at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing a year ago. That run, which was also a world lead and a meeting record, sets them up perfectly for a tilt at a medal in Rio in two weeks’ time.
“My aim was just to catch the person in front of me and give Desiree a good lead” said Philip. “She charged down the back straight, she is experienced enough to do that. Even though it was Dina’s first go on the third leg, we knew she runs a good bend so we knew she would kill it. I knew Daryll was going to keep it on that last leg. It was perfect what we did today, we are proud of ourselves. We are really confident now heading into Rio.”
In the IAAF Diamond League 100m, Jimmy Vicaut was one of a number of French winners on the night, pulling clear of the field in the final 30 metres to win in 10.02. Having won his heat in 9.96, the European record holder secured an important 10 points to move up to third in the Diamond Race. American Isiah Young got up for second, with recently crowned European champion Churandy Martina third. Chijindu Ujah (Tawiah-Dodoo) finished just ahead of Richard Kilty (Benke Blomkvist), both men running 10.16, although Ujah did win his heat earlier in the evening in 10.14.
Another athlete making the most of this lightning quick track was Shaunae Miller, who stormed to 400m victory in a world leading 49.55, clear of Stephenie Ann McPherson, who just missed out of sub-50 clocking. Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) continued to round into form ahead of the Olympics with a 51.05 season’s best in fifth, the fastest time by a British athlete this year. Emily Diamond (Jared Deacon) was the next British athlete across the line in seventh, with Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) and Anyika Onoura (Rana Reider) in pursuit.
Post-race Miller said: “I’m very pleased; everything’s been going extremely well, my training’s been going great. I put in a lot of work for these competitions so I’m glad to see it’s paying off. It was a great feeling as it was my first time competing here at the stadium of London’s Olympic Games. Rio’s the next big goal. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m hoping for the best from it.”
Ohuruogu added: “It is progression but I kind of wanted a bit more. It’s not as easy as it looks – I don’t just turn up and run a season’s best, there has been a lot of work behind it. This season has been a lot of work, it has been hard. But we push on – that’s life sometimes. More often or not, it does not go to plan. You have to work with what you’ve got and make the most of it.”
Christian Taylor showed he is rounding into form at just the right time ahead of Rio, the American Olympic champion winning the triple jump by nearly a metre in a season’s best of 17.78m. That mark is both a world lead and meeting record, further extending his lead at the top of the Diamond Race.
“I thought the world record was there for the taking especially on such a beautiful night. I love the track and I’m happy to be back in London; I set the bar high and I’m disappointed I couldn’t step up to the record. My focus has been to bring together all the elements of my performance; there has been a bit of transition but things are coming together and everything looks good for Rio.”
Eilidh Doyle (Malcolm Arnold) had to settle for fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles as fastest in the field, Dalilah Muhammad, showed her current top form to win in 53.90. Coming off hurdle nine to the roar of the crowd, Doyle (nee Child) moved alongside the leader but after stuttering into the final barrier, Muhammad moved away for the win. Petersen of Denmark and Theron Nel of South Africa set season’s bests for second and third, with Doyle fourth in 54.70.
“I felt I was going strong up until the last hurdle, but I just stuttered into it and lost all momentum. I just want to go to Rio now and come off the track knowing I’ve given it everything and with my head held high. If that wins me a medal then that’s a bonus.”
Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse took full advantage of the fast early pace, moving clear of the field just before the 600m mark and even had time to throw a fist in the air as he crossed the line in an impressive 1.43.88 season’s best to win the men’s 800m. Canada’s Brandon McBride set a 1.43.95 personal best in second, with Diamond Race leader Ferguson Rotich third. There was also a big personal best for British 1500m man Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) back in ninth – his 1.45.53 run nearly 1.5 seconds faster than he’s run before.
Renaud Lavillenie bounced back from no heighting at the European Championships with a 5.90m winning clearance here in London, where he won the Olympic title four years ago. Coming in a 5.65m, he produced first time clearance right through to 5.90m, before failing three close attempts at 5.97m. Sam Kendricks took second with a best of 5.83m before retiring after two failures at 5.90m, with Lavillenie’s fellow countryman Menaldo third.
“I am really happy, I enjoy competing here a lot and it’s always a pleasure to come back to London. Every time I perform my best here at this stadium and I am happy to jump well. My season is going pretty well – I’ve done everything I need to in preparation and now I can turn my focus towards Rio.”
Silas Kiplagat was the man who signed the famous book after winning the Emsley Carr Mile in 3.53.04. The famous race, won by the likes of Hicham El Guerrouj and Asbel Kiprop in the past, came down to a three way Kenyan sprint. Chasing him all the way were Timothy Cheruiyot and Vincent Kibet, whilst young Brit Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman) smashed his personal best with a 3.54.20 run in fourth.
Ruth Beitia took victory in the women’s high jump to extend her lead at the top of the Diamond Race. A third time clearance at 1.98m saw her take a convincing victory in the end, having led all the way from runner-up Mirela Demireva.
Third place went to Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) thanks to a personal best 1.95m clearance. She went close at a British record height of 1.98m, but it wasn’t to be this evening. Further back there was a season’s best of 1.92m for Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake) in seventh.
Jakub Vadlejch prevailed in a closely fought men’s javelin, his second round effort of 85.72m enough to get the better of Keshorn Walcott and Hamish Peacock.
Croydon Harriers won the first race of the evening, taking the U13 boys 4x100m relay and with it £250 for the club, which is awarded to the winners of every Club:Connect race. Croydon also took victory in the U13 girls equivalent, as well as the U15 girls and both U17 races. Shaftesbury Barnet were victorious in the U15 boy’s race, with Thames Valley Harriers and Blackheath & Bromley winning the U20 men’s and women’s races respectively.
Müller Yogurt & Desserts are the title partner for the world-class Anniversary Games in London, where they aim, through their Müllerlicious products and partnerships, to empower consumers to make active and healthy lifestyle choices, just like the inspiring athletes who compete in these athletic events in the run up to this year’s Olympic Games in Rio and throughout the year.
Full results from tonight’s action can be found here: http://london.diamondleague.com/lists_results_london/