WRITTEN FOR THE BRITISH ATHLETICS WEBSITE
Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes captured no less than six victories at the sun-drenched BT Great City Games Manchester this afternoon, as the annual street athletics festival enjoyed its’ sixth appearance in the north-west of England.
Taking place on a purpose built track on Deansgate and around Albert Square with fans spectating at close proximity, Tiffany Porter (Rana Reider) led the British challenge with a dominant 100m hurdles win and 12.65 meeting record.
The 26-year-old world indoor and outdoor bronze medallist took the scalp of the USA’s Olympic bronze medallist, Kellie Wells (12.83) and said afterwards:
“I’m really excited with how things are progressing, it’s great to get my first win here and it’s really special to do it against such quality competition.
“If I’m fit and healthy, I’m going to go for both titles (at the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships) this year.”
Serita Solomon (Lloyd Cowan) finished in third place with a 13.28 personal best clocking.
Olympic long jump champion, Greg Rutherford (Jonas Tawiah Dodoo) continued his fine form in taking victory with an 8.02m leap.
The 27-year-old, who will compete at the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Grand Prix in mid-July, said:
“It was an interesting day today – I wasn’t jumping technically well but to come out and win is always nice in a fun event like this.
“There’s a bit more to come – I got more nervous today than in a really long time, but managed to control it.
“I just needed to rise to the occasion and it was good to go over eight meters – it’s a good place to be after two weeks of being ill.
“It’s just about being consistent and ultimately, I hope to be jumping really far in time for the two major championships.”
Britain’s Olympic finalist and 2008 world indoor runner-up, Chris Tomlinson (Frank Attoh) finished third with 7.77m, as Matthew Burton (John Herbert) and Jermaine Olasan (Tawiah Dodoo) placed fifth and sixth with a 7.58m season’s best and 7.29m, respectively.
In a domestic men’s 110m hurdles, Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold) led the battle of the Brits against 2011 world bronze medallist, Andy Turner (Lloyd Cowan), who continues his return from long-term injury.
The 24-year-old clocked a 13.51 season’s best, whilst Turner – nine years his elder – registered 13.55.
Clarke, the Olympic fourth placer in London 2012, said afterwards:
“I had to push as hard as I could with Andy alongside me.
“The track’s seriously quick and it’s a bizarre but an amazing experience, with the crowd watching you warm up and being right there.
“It was a real fight to the line but I’m glad I got the Commonwealth selection time, it’s a big weight off my shoulders and now I’m looking forward to Loughborough tomorrow.
“I want to make the final of the European’s and the Commonwealth’s – I was third in the 2010 Commonwealth’s and I want to get a medal again.”
Meanwhile, in third, David King (James Hillier) set a 13.85 personal best and Alex Al-Ameen (Reider) ran 14.16 for fourth position.
Meghan Beesley (Nick Dakin) enjoyed a promising start to her summer campaign with an impressive 200m hurdles win in a 25.05 world best to boot, in the rarely-run event.
The 24-year-old world outdoor semi-finalist pushed her team-mate, European indoor 400m silver medallist, Eilidh Child (Malcolm Arnold) into the runner-up spot with Child – who heads to both the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas next weekend and Glasgow – clocking a 25.84 personal best.
The British duo took the scalps of the Czech Republic’s European outdoor runner-up, Denisa Rosolova (25.86) and the USA’s world silver medallist, Dalilah Muhammed (25.90), respectively.
A delighted Beesley said:
“I can’t believe it really, I’ve never done it before and it’s all a bit of a blur but it’s exciting.
“It’s good to beat her (Child) – I’ve wanted to for so long, and it’s amazing to so early in the season and now hopefully I can beat her over the 400m hurdles this season.
“My aims are both the champs so I just need to get my rhythm right – to beat three of the world finalists at this time of the year, hopefully I can build on this now to do well in both the major champs.”
Shana Cox (George Williams) took a surprise victory over world 400m champion, Christine Ohuruogu (Lloyd Cowan) in the women’s 200m
Clocking 23.28 ahead of Ohuruogu’s 24.06, Cox halted the latter’s hopes for a successful 30th birthday track celebration.
Ohurogu has not competed since anchoring the British squad to the world indoor 4x400m relay bronze medal in Sopot in March, and will compete in both the Bahamas and in Glasgow this summer.
“I wasn’t really expecting much from this race, I was just here to support this nice showpiece of an event, which is really important to get the supporters behind us.
“Training’s been a bit downhill but it’s nice to be here on a lovely day.
“It’s really nice to be here on my birthday and it was ten years ago when I broke my breakthrough in the (2004 Olympic) trials in Manchester so it’s great to be back here.”
Turner, meanwhile, returned to the track to contest his favourite event, the 200m hurdles and claimed his fourth victory in five appearances in the discipline in Manchester.
Registering 22.58 from the Dominican Republic’s Olympic 400m hurdles champion, Felix Sanchez (22.61), Turner is also the meeting record holder with 22.10 and said:
“I’m just so happy to be back after such a terrible year so I’m blessed to be here in one piece, doing what I love to do – I’m really thankful and don’t take anything for granted anymore.
“I partially ruptured my Achilles here last year but there’s no problems with it anymore – it’s so nice to be pain-free and I’m just happy to be here.
“I’m just taking each week at a time, I’d love to go to both of the champs again – I feel I’m in better shape than I’m showing so hopefully I’ll improve and get selected.”
Sebastian Rodger (James Hillier) finished third in a 22.95 personal best.
Twenty-year-old European junior 100m champion, Chijindu Ujah (Tawiah Dodoo) sped to a huge 10.14 100m personal best and pushed world indoor 60m champion, Richard Kilty (Reider) into third position (10.19), as Qatar’s world inoor 60m bronze medallist, Femi Ogunode took the win in 10.10.
Ujah said afterwards:
“I’m not surprised – indoors, I didn’t put together some good 60’s and got injured before the trials.
“I knew 10.1 was in my legs and I’m just looking to go on and improve.
“It feels to beat him (Kilty) out here. My main aims are the Commonwealth’s and the European’s and I hope to qualify for them soon.”
Whilst Kilty, who will compete in both the Bahamas and in Glasgow, was philosophical in his defeat:
“As soon as I came out of the blocks, my legs were heavy.
“It’s all about enjoying myself as I knew I wouldn’t be fresh (after travelling over from the USA) – I had to drink four double shot expresso’s just to wake myself up and I only got three hours’ sleep so it’s not ideal but I had the best reception, coming here as a world champion – I owed it to the crowd, it was a perfect homecoming race for me.
“I feel if I had come out here a couple of days earlier, I could have won but I have the target on my back and it was a shame I couldn’t perform but I got beaten if every indoor race before the race that mattered (the world indoor final).
“I’m back (Florida) tomorrow but I thought it was my duty to come to race in the north of England. Mid-season, you’ll see my true form come out.”
In the final event of the afternoon, the event’s star attraction, Jamaica’s Olympic 100m and 200m silver medallist, Yohan Blake took the men’s 150m in a swift 14.71.
The Olympic relay champion and 2011 world 100m victor – who will return to British shores with an appearance in Glasgow – was content with his day’s work:
“I feel I’m in great shape but I didn’t have a good warm up today – we had nowhere to warm up but I’m injury-free and happy.
“It was a phenomenal day and a really good run from me today, a little bit embarrassing but I’m good.
“I’m going to enjoy the summer and execute – it’s good to have a Commonwealth medal and would be good to race Usain (Bolt, Jamaica’s triple Olympic and world sprint champion and world record holder) so we’ll see.”
2004 Olympic 4x100m champion, Mark Lewis-Francis (Andy Paul) placed fourth in 15.22.
In the women’s pole vault, Sally Peake (Scott Simpson) finished third with a 4.25m clearance, whilst Katie Byres (Kate Dennison) placed fourth with a 4.10m season’s best.
And in the IPC sprint races, Michael Poulton (Ryan Freckleton) finished fourth in the men’s T44 100m, as Laura Sugar (Femi Akinsanya) and Sophie Kamlish (Robert Ellchuk) finished second and third in the women’s T44 100m in a 14.04 season’s best and 14.31, respectively.