It’s day two of the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games at the Olympic Stadium, read The Star’s Richard Fidler’s blog from track-side.
SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE FOR UPDATES - DAY ONE BLOG AND UPDATES BELOW DAY TWO
They’ve forecast thunderstorms later but the weather at the moment of a bright sunny sky is almost identical to the first morning of athletics last year in the Olympic Games when Jessica Ennis (as she was then known) set the stadium alight with a time of 12.54 seconds in the 100m hurdles - her first heptathlon discipline.
If I remember rightly it did actually chuck it down while Jess was doing the high jump though...
Almost 12 months on Sheffield’s Jess, now with a hyphen in her name after marrying Andy Hill in May, will compete for the first time of hurdles since that day on August 3 2012.
Injuries have hampered her preparations for this summer’s World Championships in Moscow but with two events today - hurdles and long jump - she’ll be able to assess whether she can make the British team.
Other highlights include Mo Farah in the 3,000 metres, Dearne’s Luke Cutts in the pole vault, a lightning fast women’s 100m, former Sheffield Hallam media student Lee Emanuel in the Emsley Carr Mile, 2008 Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu in the 400m and Usain Bolt anchoring his Racers Track Club team in the 4x100m relay.
After stadium compere Colin Murray had interviewed Seb Coe, who reiterated that Ennis-Hill’s gold medal, was his highlight of the Games there was a procession of Team GB medal winners.
Although the Anniversary Games were by their nature athletics centred the organisers were trying to give spectators a flavour of the full sporting experience from last year.
Jess was the first track event on with the men’s long jump and women’s shot put also taking place in the stadium.
It was a very strong field she was up against and - in her first hurdles of the season - she did well.
As expected Olympic champion Sally Pearson won with a season’s best time of 12.65 second with Britain’s Tiffany Porter second in 12.76.
Kellie Wells, bronze medallist at the Games, was in third once again in 12.95 with Ennis-Hill fourth (13.08).
The Sheffield athlete had her left ankle heavily strapped and she didn’t have the explosiveness of a year ago when she was 100 per cent fit.
However, by heptathlon standards it was a very creditable time and will have filled her with confidence ahead of this afternoon’s long jump.
Hopefully there will be no reaction to her injury.
She said: “It is really nice to be back in the Stadium a year on, obviously I have really great memories from last time, obviously a bit of a different situation to last time. But it’s great to be back in front of a home crowd and in the Stadium.”
Dearne Athletics Club’s Luke Cutts has just started the pole vault. Cutts won the British Championships recently but missed out on World Championship selection.
In both the men’s 110m hurdles and women’s 100m there were heats for finals later in the afternoon.
Already the track was once again showing it is one of the quickest in the world. Blessing Okagbare had an African record in the 100m and she’ll be taking on the brilliant Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and American Carmalita Jeter in the final.
In the 110m hurdles Olympic champion cruised through to the final with a time of 13.14 seconds beating Britain’s William Sharman into second place.
Sharman’s time of 13.43 was a season’s best.
In the women’s shot put Olympic champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand set a world leading mark of 20.90 metres to win again in the stadium.
Adams was awarded gold in September after Belarusian Nadzeya Ostapchuk failed two drugs tests.
She said: “I was pretty happy with getting consistently over 20m. I’m psyched to be here to close a chapter.
“It feels absolutely fantastic to be in here. It’s great to have my coach in the same position as last year and we’re in the same circle, so it’s great to close a chapter and move on now.
“I’m looking forward to Moscow now. I’m feeling good and I’m in pretty good shape so we’ll see what happens.
Cutts is performing well and is clear to a height of 5.60m however he did fail his first attempt at 5.70m.
Cutts beat his PB of 5.65 as he finally made it over 5.70 with his third effort.
American Michael Tinsley showed why he’ll be a favourite to win the 400m hurdles at next month’s World Championships in Moscow as he won in a time of 47.98.
He said: “I’m really strong over the last hurdle so I knew that if I was able to get over the first, if I don’t think anyone will be able to catch me.
“I put today down to hard work in training and staying focused. It’s a tough field in the 400m hurdles so I wanted to execute it and I did.
“Before the World Championships, I’ll go to Nice for a training camp and work hard when I’m there.”
In the long jump Britain’s Chris Tomlinson couldn’t repeat Greg Rutherford’s victory of a year ago.
The Middlebrough leaper finished fifth with a best of 7.99. Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov was the class of the field as his sixth round jump of 8.31m was 14cm clear of second placed Fabrice Lapierre if France.
Tomlinson said: “Long jump is a funny event at times. My two poorest jumps were the only ones I got in and they were 7.99m and my fouls were really good fouls. But that’s long jump for you. When you have to jump good distances you have to put it down, and sometimes it doesn’t go that way.
“The crowd were brilliant, they really got behind me. But now i’ll go away and focus on what I have to do.”
Cutts finally went out at 5.77m but beat Steve Lewis - Great Britain’s representative at the World Championships - who could only manage 5.65 to Cutts’ 5.70.
However as the competition continued the Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie soared over six metres with 6.02 to beat Bjorn Otto of Germany into second place.
The Frenchman had three attempts at a new world record of 6.16 but couldn’t break the mark.
Cutts said: “It’s a PB, it just took a bit of time to come out. It’s a shame they can’t take us both to World’s but you know. I think I could make the Worlds final.
“I’m happy but it just wasn’t there today. I came here for the test event and the atmosphere was great again.”
There was a surprise in the 110m hurdles as Aries Merritt hit a hurdle and didn’t finish. David Oliver took the win in 13.20 seconds from William Sharman of Great Britain in a PB of 13.26.
Sharman said: “These were my Olympics. I didn’t run here last year, I’m so thankful that people came out to support me.”
Christine Ohuruogu was victorious in the 400m with the former Olympic champion coming home in 50 seconds.
She said: “I’m happy with the win. I ticked the box today.
“I put the result down to hard work and will go away and speak with my coach and see what we can work on for the World Championships.”
Blessing Okagbare broke the African record she’d set earlier in the heats to win the 100m in a time of 10.79 seconds.
Jessica Ennis-Hill’s return to the Olympic Stadium was an enjoyable experience but not necessarily a successful one in the long jump.
A best of 6.16m saw her finish eighth with Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson winning with 6.46m.
Ennis-Hill said: “It’s amazing to be back in the stadium and just having everyone’s support is incredible. I’m just disappointed that I’m not in the shape and the fitness that I need to be in. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be back here again though.
“It’s hard because obviously it’s only a couple of weeks until the worlds. I’m running out of time a bit.
“It’s brilliant to be back here again and remember all those memories from last year again.
“I haven’t decided about the world championships yet. I need to speak to my coach and have a think.”
There was better news though for Mo Farah. He clocked a personal best in the 3,000m to easily win the race.
And in the day’s final event Usain Bolt anchored his Racers Track Club 4x100m relay team to victory in 37.75 seconds from France in second place.
DAY ONE - Friday July 26
Well, here we are again. It doesn’t seem a year since the Olympic Games - time moves so fast in the sporting world.
But with news that Sheffield’s Jess Ennis-Hill WILL be competing in the 100m hurdles and the long jump on Saturday after injury problems it seems as though athletics will be back in the headlines.
I thought it would be strange returning to a place with so many memories from last year.
However, once the action began and the capacity crowd roared it was like a mini Super Saturday all over again.
Not going to go into a big look-back here - that will be in The Star’s supplement next Saturday to coincide with Jess’ golden moment.
Instead I’ll try and keep you up-to-date with what I see and here.
From a local perspective former Sheffield Wednesday Academy player Mukhtar Mohammed is the main attraction in the 800m.
By way of some background the event is part of the Diamond League series and is also being used as preparation for the World Championships, which take place in Moscow next month.
The men’s 100m B race was the first major event on the track. Great Britain’s Adam Gemili won an all home race from Harry Aikines-Aryeetey.
Gemili’s time of 10.16 seconds was a season’s best.
He said: “It was a season’s best, which I’m happy with. The race itself wasn’t brilliant again, but I’m glad to come away with the win and to enjoy the crowd.
“My reaction time was really, really bad. If I get that right, the rest of my race I felt was a lot better.
“I feel in a lot better shape than I was last year if I’m honest.
“I’ve got the 200 at the world championships and I can’t wait. To be able to do another event will be great. 100 at the Olympics, 200 at the worlds and hopefully be able to do both at future competitions.”
Aikines-Aryeetey said: “It’s amazing to be here again.
“A race is a race. It’s one race and job done and he got me at the end. I just tightened up and he got me. I’m excited that things are coming together.”
In the women’s 400m hurdles winner Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic, who finished with a bronze medal last year, held off Britain’s Perri Shakes-Drayton with a time of 53.07.
She said: “I love it here, it’s very nice here with great memories from the Olympic Games in London.
“I raced well, I’m really looking forward to the World Champs. I have 14 days until Moscow. I will work a little bit and then I’ll be ready.”
There was happiness for Shakes-Drayton who finished with a personal best of 53.67.
She said: “I’ve forgotten the Olympics, I’m a lot happier to compete here since then. Today I got a PB so I’m happy and now I want to make the final in Moscow and I’ll be wanting to bring home some silverware for sure.”
By way of a bit of housekeeping there were some field events early in the evening that have just finished.
In the women’s pole vault Cuba’s Yarisley Silva won with a height of 4.83m from American Jennifer Suhr.
And in the men’s discus the victor was Poland’s Piotr Malachowski with 67.35m. Great Britain’s Brett Morse was sixth with 64.84m.
Malachowski said: “It was a very good competition. I did well, finished top again like last week’s competition in Poland. Good being back here, love the Olympic stadium.”
And Morse commented: “It’s amazing to be back in the Olympic stadium, this time I was able to enjoy the atmosphere. At the Olympics I wasn’t in that great shape, but I really enjoyed tonight.
“The crowd is amazing, I just threw my fifth longest throw in history and obviously long discus throws are usually done in windy stadiums, so I think the crowd really helped me.
“This was the perfect way to lead up to Moscow, with seven of the world’s top 10 here, obviously I’m in that, I beat a twice Olympic champion and the guy who was second in London last year only beat me on the last throw, so it is all very positive.”
While field events were continuing in high jump for the men and triple jump for the women there were two middle distance events on the track.
Both for women the 3,000m was won by America’s Shannon Rowbury in 8 minutes 41.46 seconds - a world leading time this season.
Rowbury said: “That feels great. I had a really disappointing trials in the 1500m when I was fourth and missed the team. I came back and ran well in the 5k and I’m hoping that was a turning point in my season. I’m getting a lot more confidence in myself and I love the 3k, it’s a great transition race for me. It was a good race and my last one before Moscow.”
Great Britain’s Eilish McColgan was the leading home runner in ninth in 8:53.66.
She said: “It was tough getting back out racing. I’ve been out for a good five weeks now, so I’m finding it hard getting back into race mode.
“I’ve only ran 8:49 indoors, so it’s there or thereabouts. It just felt awful compared to normal though. I’m going to get it right before worlds, I needed this today to get ready.
“Obviously I had the Olympics last year, so I was fortunate to run here before. But I was amazed when I came out to how packed it was.
“Loved the opportunity to come back.”
And in the 1,500m Kenya’s Mary Kuria edged out Morocco’s Ibtissam Lakhouad in a time of 4:08.77.
There was no Usain Bolt in the 200m for men - he’ll come later.
But a Jamaican was still first as Warren Weir blitzed round the bend to finish in a time of 19.89 seconds.
He said: “I am pretty pleased with 19.89, it’s a very fast time going to Russia. It was exactly what I wanted to do.
“It’s one race one win. It is a great stadium and the crowd are amazing. I am confident going into the World Champs that I can run my race and win.”
Richard Kilty was first Briton home in seventh in a time of 20.57 beating James Ellington and Delano Williams into eighth and ninth respectively.
He said: “It was a good race. I had a hamstring problem all week and even in warm up, I was debating whether to run, it was that painful. So to come out here and perform how I did was great.
“I’m glad to be the best of the Brits, especially seeing as I didn’t get selected for Moscow. I was going out there to try to prove a point.
“This is amazing though, I’ve never done anything like this in my life. It’s unbelievable, I’ve loved every minute of it. Best experience of my life.”
One of the biggest cheers came with the victory by the Great Britain women’s 4x100m team in the relay.
Dina Asher-Smith, Anyika Anuora, Annabelle Lewis and Ashleigh Nelson romped home in 42.69 seconds - the fastest time in 12 years by a British team.
Lewis said: “Wow what a reception. We’re really, really happy. It’s the fastest time by a GB woman’s team in 12 years!
“The atmosphere in the stadium is absolutely amazing, as we walked off we were walking past everyone to get to where we need to be and everyone was just clapping and cheering us. So glad we got to experience this. And with a win.”
And Nelson added: “We’re really confident going into Moscow, we’re a fairly new team and we’ve just started working together so a little more practice and who knows what could happen.”
Equally impressive was American Brenda Martinez in the 800m after she stormed down the home straight to win with a time of 1:58.19.
She said: “It was good. It was good practice before World championships, so I’m really glad I walked away with a win.
“I do the 1500m as well, but I chose to go down a distance this year, so I think it’s coming along perfectly for me. I can feel my strength in the final stages.
“The crowd is so loud. There’s a lot of good energy so I was just trying to use that up.
Britain’s Marilyn Okoro was fourth with a time of 2:00.35.
She said: “I’m a bit disappointed as I wanted to back up my performance from the trials. You put yourself on the line and try and practice something before the worlds. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m just so happy to run on this track.
“I need to get my mind right for Moscow and be aggressive on that first lap and hold my form coming home.”
Olympic champion Kirani James had a happy return to the stadium as he held off Tony McQuay in a time of 44.65 to win the 400m.
The Grenadian athlete had a lot of work to do in the home straight but showed his class to be the only man under 45 seconds.
Nigel Levine was the first Briton home in sixth with Conrad Williams ninth.
James said: “It was a great run. A very competitive race. I’m just happy to come back to London with all the greats.
“They were sneaking up on me a little bit on the home straight but I just tried to stay relaxed and just finish strong.
“It brought back a lot of fond memories and just being here is great.
“I’m most definitely confident in my abilities and what I can do ahead of Moscow. The other guys are great as well so I have to keep them in check and make sure I don’t get too relaxed.”
Although Mukhtar Mohammed didn’t contest for a victory in the 800m - won by American Nick Symmonds - he did pick up a new personal best with 1:45.96.
Mohammed ended up in 10th after a photo finish while the other home runner, Michael Rimmer, was eighth (1:45.46).
And to round the night off Usain Bolt shook off a poor start to win in a season’s best time of 9.85 seconds from America’s Michael Rodgers.
Britain’s Dwain Chambers was fifth.
It wasn’t quite the fireworks of a year ago from Bolt but was still a good show.
Will try and add some quotes later, but for now that’s all.
Tomorrow a certain Mrs Jessica Ennis-Hill returns to the stadium. Bring it on.
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