Fast! Aries Merritt edges Jason Richardson in the Birmingham high hurdles, 12.95 to 12.98 (Jean-Pierre Durand) © Copyright
General News 26 August 2012 – Birmingham, UK

Jeter and Merritt blaze in Birmingham

Birmingham, UKHighlights of the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix, the 12th leg of the Samsung Diamond League, were Carmelita Jeter beating Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m in 10.81 while Aries Merritt once again dipped under 13 seconds in the 110m Hurdles.

Jeter beats Fraser-Pryce again over 100m

No doubt who was best as Jeter made it 3-3 in the season’s battle against the Olympic champion Fraser-Pryce, with her second meeting record of the day of 10.81 (11.01 in her heat). There was not much in it as they left the blocks with both women neck and neck, but after 30 metres the American edged ahead and there was no catching her as she crossed the line almost one metre up on the Jamaican. The race was run in warm sunshine and a gentle following wind of +0.7, but Jeter still ran in tights.

"I’m feeling good. We are out here to compete, this is what we love to do," said Jeter. "It’s not just about me and Shelly-Ann racing against each other. It is about us coming out, enjoying ourselves and giving the crowd something to cheer about."

Merritt floats to hurdles win

The Olympic champion, the USA’s Merritt, won in a meeting record 12.95 into a 0.9 headwind, but only just as he was pushed all the way by fellow American Jason Richardson who equalled his lifetime best just 0.03 down. Third was another American, David Oliver, in 13.28.

"I made a lot of technical mistakes, I floated a lot of hurdles," said Merritt. "Hopefully next time I won’t make those mistakes and run a clearer race, then who knows?

"It’s great consistency but I train for this, I work really hard and I put together practice performances that are sub-12.95 so all I need to do is perform like I do in practice. I came pretty close today."

Ashmeade over Gay at 200m

Elsewhere in the sprints, Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade won the 200m from gun to tape in 20.12 with Tyson Gay 0.09 down and Wallace Spearmon a further 0.02 behind. In sixth Briton Adam Gemili set a career best 20.53.

"It was good, the time was a little slow, but I don’t know why. I feel happy to get a win against a good field," said Ashmeade.

Over the full lap, Angelo Taylor of the USA defeated Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic in a season’s best 44.93 with Santos 0.03 down and Belgium’s Jonathan Borlée third.

"I did exactly what I wanted to do," said the two-time 400m Hurdles Olympic champion. "I came out here and ran fast, finishing off the season strong. I beat the Olympic silver medallist – finally. Season’s best so I think I’ve still something left in the tank."

Spencer clocks meeting record in 400m hurdles

Initially disqualified then reinstated, Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica ran strongly to clock 53.78 in the 400m Hurdles with Britain’s Perri Shakes-Drayton second in 54.08, just 0.06 ahead of Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic. Attempting to shake off her post-Olympic blues, Russia’s Olympic champion, Natalya Antyukh, held a slight lead up to the half-way mark but then started to fade, eventually crossing the line in fourth with 54.95.

In the women’s 400m which was not on the Diamond Race programme, twice Olympic relay bronze medallist Rosemary Whyte of Jamaica surprised everyone by setting a season’s best 50.20 to upstage Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu who was second with 50.67 and Francena McCororory third.

Ohuruogu went out fast and had made up the stagger on Olympic bronze medallist DeeDee Trotter of the USA on her outside after 250 metres. But Whyte was in a clear lead and going well out in lane seven and showing no sign of weakening.

"I’m really, really happy to get a season’s best," commented Whyte. "It’s nice to come out on top against Olympic medallists, that’s where I want to be."

Cherono upsets Cheruiyot

Kenyan Mercy Cherono made up for missing the Olympics with a thrilling victory over Vivian Cheruiyot in the women’s 3000m, the closest of the afternoon.

Pacemaker Kenyan Magdalene Masai did as she was told and went through 1000m in 2:58.21, but there were no takers behind her as the field stayed resolutely 30 metres down until the half-way mark when compatriots Sally Kipyego and Cheruiyot started to show some interest.

Passing the 2000m mark in 5:59.18, Kipeyego, Cherono and Cheruiyot continued to vie for lead with only Britain’s Julia Bleasdale trying to break up East African dominance. At the bell, Kipyego still held pole but Cheruiyot pressed her and eventually forced her way past with 100 metres to go. But it was not a convincing push and Cherono came though strongly to just edge her compatriot by 0.01 in 8:40.21. Bleasdale was rewarded for her pluck by going well under nine minutes for the first time in her life with an excellent 8:46.38, an improvement of almost half a minute!

"I am happy to beat Vivian Cheruiyot, my fellow Kenyan," admitted Cherono. "The season went well for me but as I missed out on making the Olympic team, this is a nice way to finish."

Savinova wins tactical battle over Jelimo

After running such a tactically astute race in Lausanne, Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo, allowed herself to get hopelessly boxed in when the racing started and she could only watch as the Olympic champion Mariya Savinova raced away to win in 2:00.40.

After dawdling at the rear of the field for 380 metres, Savinova came though strongly to pass the bell in 61.76 and was never headed from there on in. At 600 metres, America’s Maggie Vessey and Britain’s Lynsey Sharp were trying to get on terms, but that was when Savinova took off and the race was as good as over. Jelimo woke up to the danger but she started her effort far too late and was just a spectator finishing over a second down on the Russian at the line. Britain’s Marilyn Okoro came through for third.

"It has been a long season with the Olympic Games," commented the Russian. "I wanted to win the race very badly, but I am actually surprised that I won, being so tired."

Farah just relieved to win

It was billed as an attack on Steve Ovett’s 2 miles British record, but maybe the birth of twins two days ago to Britain’s Mo Farah exhausted him sufficiently to dissuade him from any heroics. No doubt asleep in his home in Australia, Ovett will awake tomorrow with his record of 8:13.51from 1978 intact as this year’s double Olympic champion crossed the line in a modest 8:27.24. In second Daniele Meucci of Italy never gave up the chase while third went to the USA’s Garrett Heath.

"It hasn't been the easiest week because my wife gave birth to two little girls, so it hasn't been easy coming here and getting this out the way," admitted Farah. "I've got one more race, I'm going to do a half marathon and then that's it."

Mekonnen over Chepseba in 1500m

World indoor bronze medallist Mekonnen Gebremehdin of Ethiopia came through strongly to win in 3:34.80 from sub-3:30 Kenyan this year, Nixon Chepseba with Commonwealth silver medallist, James Kiplagat of Kenya, third. Olympic silver medallist Leo Manazano of the USA faded to 11th.

"I ran in a black armband because on Monday evening our Prime Minister died," explained the winner.

In the women’s 1500m, a non-Diamond League event, former steeplechaser Anna Pierce of the USA came through in the last 80 metres to cross the line in 4:11.33 from Britain’s Laura Weightman and Canada’s Hilary Stellingwerff.

Fresh from a personal best over 800m in Linz last Monday, Hanna England led the field through 400m in 69.42 before being joined by Weightman as they passed 800m in 2:21.42. At the bell reached in 3.10 they were joined by Kenya’s Helen Obiri who made an attempt to get to the front with 200 metres remaining.

England resisted all attempts to wrest the lead from her until the final straight when she faded to fourth, but it was an encouraging display for the Birmingham based athlete who is coming back from serious Achilles tendon injury.

"I felt really good, super relaxed. I’m really happy with that," said Pierce. "It was great to run in Birmingham, beautiful. We couldn’t have got any more lucky with this weather."

Teenager wins Steeplechase

The steeplechase quickly became a two-horse race between 19-year-old Jairus Kipchoge Birech and Olympic bronze medallist Abel Kiprop Mutai racing into a 30 metre lead after just 1000m.

With three laps to go third Kenyan Haron Lagat was attempting to reduce the lead but to no avail as Birech and Mutai continued their remorseless progress. With a lap to go, it looked like an easy task for Mutai to take the race, but Birech was having none of it as he sprinted away after the final water jump to win with his hand raised like a veteran in 8:20.27 with Mutai jogging over the line five seconds down.

Grabarz defeats last two Olympic champions

Turning our attention to the jumps, Robbie Grabarz managed to produce the goods for his host country crowd.

After his extraordinary performance in Lausanne where he improved his Qatari national record to 2.39m, it was possibly too much to expect Moutaz Essa Barshim to repeat the dose just three days later. Someone who did maintain his level from Thursday evening was Grabarz who won with a height of 2.32m.

The Olympic champion, Ivan Ukhov of Russia, failed at his first attempt at that height and reserved his two remaining efforts for the next height of 2.35m but found that beyond him to finish second.

Grabarz had two failures at that height too, but reserved his final effort for an attack on the British record height of 2.38m. He was unsuccessful but it was not a bad attempt and indicated the height is within his scope. Third was former Olympic champion, Andrey Silnov of Russia.

"I just came here to win," said the Briton. "I did my jump and I got to try a British record again. The higher you jump the more fun it is."

Menkov proves himself in Long Jump

With his first and only valid jump of the day of 8.18m, Russian Aleksandr Menkov won the competition. Second was America’s Triple Jump Olympic champion, Christian Taylor, on 7.95 while Britain’s Long Jump Olympic champion, Greg Rutherford, only took three jumps and ended in third in 7.88m.

"After my bad luck at the Olympics, I wanted to come here to prove who I am," asserted Menkov. "That is the only reason I came here."

Suhr masters the wind

As the women’s Pole Vault was held in difficult conditions, 4.57 was the cut-off point for most as world leader Silke Spiegelburg of Germany, World champion Fabiana Murer of Brazil and European champion Jirina Ptacnikova of the Czech Republic failed to get over the bar.

That left only Yarisley Silva of Cuba and Jenn Suhr of the USA to battle it out with Suhr taking the lead with a first time clearance of 4.65m while the Cuban needed two attempts. That gave the American victory since neither woman was able to get over 4.73m.

"When you’re running into such a strong headwind it’s not really pole vaulting, you’re just adjusting to the wind," said Suhr. "I could have done horrible today and it still would have been a good season for me."

Saladuha wins after four fouls

In the women’s Triple Jump, the big shock was the three straight fouls by the Daegu World champion Olha Saladuha of Ukraine who should have failed to progress to the final three jumps but because there were only eight competitors she was allowed to continue.

Given a lifeline, she then fouled her fourth jump, but then shot into the lead in the fifth with 14.40m and stayed there.

Olympic sixth placer, Kimberley Williams of Jamaica, created a stir in the third round when she took the lead from Kazakh Olga Rypakova by 3cm with a jump of 14.37m. The Olympic champion failed to react and finished third after failing to improve on her first round attempt of 14.34m.

"I am happy to win but it was not a good result," commented the winner. "I am very tired after Lausanne, there was a very short time between competitions. It was a very long season and I was injured at the start, but I really wanted to get a medal at the Olympics so I am happy about that."

Harting asserts his authority

And finally in the throws, Olympic champions prevailed in each of the three events on the programme.

The men’s Discus Throw featured a Who’s Who of Olympic throwing and ended with Olympic champion Robert Harting of Germany defeating Beijing Olympic champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia and former double champion Virgilius Alekna of Lithuania. The German only had one valid throw of 66.64m, but it was better than Kanter’s fifth round effort of 65.69m. Kanter needed that throw to supplant Alekna’s 65.63m.

"It was very tough because we had very bad wind conditions," commented Harting. "Everyone was struggling a little bit because of the conditions. In the end I won so it still went to plan."

Adams high fives

All five of Valerie Adams’ valid throws would have won the women’s Shot Put competition, her longest of 20.52m coming in round one. Michelle Carter of the USA found 18.71m good enough for second while Trinidad & Tobago’s Cleopatra Borel finished third with 18.36m.

"I was very consistent which is very comforting," said Adams. "I’m very happy that I won by a couple of metres."

Spotakova surprised to throw so far

In the women’s Javelin Throw, the meeting record went with Barbora Spotakova’s first effort of 66.08m and no one was able to better it. In an event that failed to ignite, Germany’s Christina Obergfoell finished second again to the Czech as she did at the Olympics, but it took some time as she only moved up the leader board with her final effort of 63.19m. Third was European champion, Vira Rebryk of the Ukraine, on 62.82m.

"I was very tight after Lausanne this week," admitted Spotakova, "so to have thrown a good distance like what I did today was very surprising and feels great. It has been a great year for me, a long summer but wonderful to secure the Olympic gold. I am looking forward to finishing it off in Brussels."

Michael Butcher for the IAAF

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