Monday, 25 October 2010

The SuperNova Runners


Landing an exciting career within sport is a much sought-after privilege for most athletes when they hang up their spikes so when athletics events company, Nova International offered four former international distance men the jobs of their dreams, they could only imagine how their inclusion would help transform the sport into what it is today, writes Nicola Bamford.

Through their world-famous Great Run - and more recently - Great Swim competition series, a quartet of experienced athletes have helped bring track, field and road running back into the public consciousness by revolutionising the sport through exhilarating spectacles and innovative concepts to thrust it into the modern era.

As well as making the sport ‘cool’ again, the Nova events have kick-started a running boom by inspiring the nation to get active via arguably, the most successful running and swimming series around the globe.

On the athletics side alone, the Nova bandwagon storms through no less than seven major UK cities each year to Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester, Sunderland, Sheffield, Newcastle and Portsmouth, where the Great South Run will take place three days from now.

In particular, the Bupa Great North Run and CityGames attracts 54,000 runners to the world’s most popular half-marathon whilst the track and field spectacular along the Newcastle-Gateshead quayside provides a strong rival to the similar concept on Manchester’s Deansgate, four months earlier in May each year.

Such groundbreaking facets to the brand have certainly justified the ‘Great’ slogan and our four ‘SuperNova’ runners here explain what it’s like to look after the crème de la crème of elite sportsmen and women today and organise such events, following their own successful running careers...

In his role as Elite Project Manager on the running, CityGames and swim projects for the past three years, Andy Caine has befriended a lot of athletes.

The 33-year-old – whose father John co-founded the company with British distance great Brendan Foster – is not only responsible for coordinating the athletes’ hotels and travel but he is also in charge of the media, how the BBC broadcast the events and ensuring the elites are well looked after.

“It’s really nice to have a job in sport where I can be involved with the athletes - I can’t imagine a job where you can as much fun,” Caine reveals.

“It’s great to be part of creating something, I take pride in what I and the business does and it’s more emotive, what with my father’s involvement. Brendan’s really good - he gets crazy ideas that we know we can do, as he’s good at motivating and inspiring us.”

Following an athletic career in which he took National and Scottish cross-country silver and ran times of 23:37 and 49:30 for five and ten miles respectively, Caine took up a role with Nike before being offered the opportunity to give back to the sport.

“This job’s not the norm – we’ve got 55 employees in the company and suppliers all over the world. I’m always getting calls and emails so I’m on the job 24/7,” Wilmslow-based Caine explains.

“It (the event) is like a premier for a film with your big names, supporting cast and extras – it’s how we put on exciting events. We’ll pay for athletes that can get the column inches, TV coverage and get the public out to watch. Sport’s becoming more professional so budgets are finite and a business decision – we understand what it’s like from when we ran so we always make sure there’s British-only prize money, too.”

With great events comes great pressure to attract the stars so Caine and co will often travel the globe in search of their next signings:

“I’ve been away for nineteen weekends this year in places like Dubai, Boston, Nice, Hengelo, New York and Hong Kong,” Caine reveals. “You’ve got to be at the main events to establish yourself and meet the right people in order to get their athletes to promote your events. You have to deal with the coach and agent, not just the athlete – you have to persuade all three.

We have good partnerships with some managers but one agent in 2008 questioned why we were bothering with the first Great Manchester CityGames - he didn’t know that we secretly had signed Usain Bolt.”

Ending his racing career in summer 2008, Caine, who still runs a few times a week, continues:

“I’ll run with the athletes on location - it’s good as they think more of you and it establishes a better relationship. I’ve even swam on event day before to understand what the swimmers go through.”

Attracting a plethora of world-class swimmers, the Great Swim series started in 2008 and boasts five popular events per year, with over 23,000 competing in the one-mile series in 2010. Following the algae chaos in Lake Windermere which resulted in the Great North Swim being cancelled this summer, ‘plan B’ venues are set to arranged for next season.

Caine – who finished fourteenth in the 2004 Great North Run (with 65:30), an event he describes as the ‘jewel in the company’s crown’ – gets a great deal of satisfaction from looking after the elites today in areas untouched when he was competing:

“The athletes always come first and always get what they need,” he explains, “travel to take them everywhere, hotel accommodation, training opportunities, physiotherapy, massage, food and they are paid within 30-days of competing – we make a big effort whether it’s Gebrselassie or a regional-level athlete and pride ourselves on treating everyone the same.”

With athletes knocking down his door to get ‘the Nova treatment’ and with him currently working on a city-wide dance competition with Colin Jackson and a research project on child obesity with schools and his former lecturers in Loughborough, Caine is a very busy man but friend and training partner Pete Riley shares the work-load.

Working as Elite Athlete Coordinator, Riley is responsible for the running of the Great Run series and supports Caine in the CityGames events.

The 31-year-old former British marathon international worked at events in the US, in several running stores, for Hilly clothing and on a Nike marketing account before joining Nova in a job which he enjoys so much that his running has taken a back-seat:

“I love my job, I get a good sense of self-satisfaction when I get back to the hotel and take the tie off. The team behind the scenes in head office make the events what they are - we just put the fluffy bits on at the end,” Riley explains.

“Running’s a de-stressor from the work so I’ll always run no matter when or how busy we are and it’s nice (to run) with the athletes, too. I got sick in April just before the big event period for us so that set the ball rolling of me not racing last summer.”

As a member of Leigh Harriers, Stockport-based Riley has not raced since placing fifth in the national cross back in February but with a 63:18 half-marathon and 2:14.31 marathon to his name, there is doubt that his involvement in the other side of the sport may see him decide to compete again soon.

“All the events have unique quirks to them. Beforehand, I’ll liaise with everyone, making sure I know what’s going on with every aspect of the business. Brendan’s really interested with the front end of fields so the pressure’s on us to deliver a good field every time. Everything’s in the planning – I’ll have constant project meetings with the communications and operations people,” Riley reveals.

“So much happens on the day so we need athletes who know what the elites are going through to help out. I’ll be on call from when the first athlete gets up until the last goes to bed. Sometimes it’s chaotic like when Martin Lel pulled out the Great North Run this year - I spent five hours contacting embassies to urgently sort a new Visa for his replacement, Jaouad Gharib.”

Ninth in the 2006 Great North Run, Riley’s roster of other former or present athletes to call upon for help at events include recent Commonwealth 3,000m steeplechase fifth-placer Stuart Stokes, northern cross-country champion Steve Vernon and 2003 World 1500m semi-finalist Gareth Turnbull.

But without great organisation, the elites certainly would not be happy so step forward Mr John Mayock and Andy Graffin.

As Special Project Managers, the former middle-distance duo organise the two CityGames events, in addition to Mayock taking charge of the Great Yorkshire and Great Tesco School Runs.

Based at Nova’s Newcastle head office, Mayock – a two-time Commonwealth and five-time European indoor medallist – oversees the organisation of his four events and acts as a consultant to ‘improve the customer experience’ on the other dates on the Nova calendar.

In his post since 2006 following roles in sports development and with the Sports Council for Wales, 39-year-old Mayock expresses his pride of his duties:

“On event day, I’ll go through the same process that I did when I was an athlete, leaving no stone unturned and making sure every box is ticked. We should be totally focused, not worried on the day, the key is to react and solve issues in any situation by overseeing things,” the Barnsley-born British 2,000m and two-mile indoor record-holder reveals.

“The Tesco Great School Run has had over one million children involved – we’ll do six-week tours of schools with celebrities travelling around to inspire them for the race in June. The ambition is to create the World’s biggest school run programme - we had 5,000 in Manchester this summer – it’s a huge project with great support from the schools.”

Having retired from competition five years ago, Mayock still runs and cycles twice a week but he gets the biggest buzz from his CityGames work:

“Such a creative, innovative concept is a credit to all involved and a pleasure to work on,” he explains. “It’s free to the public and has opened athletics up to a new audience of fans. We’re looking at so many more areas to take it to the people – London and going international would be fantastic to expand on our success and excite more people with Great CityGames brand.

It’s an unusual concept, more of an entertaining show with the music and is choreographed to a minute-by-minute schedule which I put together - and with the BBC behind it, we could take it globally. It’s like getting to an Olympic final, it feels similar to being on the start-line, it’s the same fantastic feeling.”

Graffin meanwhile, joined the team 18-months ago from Reebok and more recently, a sports management company and is based in London where the 32-year-old shares his work across Nova’s portfolio of events:

“I’ll work closely with the operations team to deliver the event infrastructure and run the event on the day, but I’ll also work with marketing and communications to help craft our message for any specific event,” the 2003 British 5,000m champion reveals.

“This is important as ultimately we have to be consumer focused. I’ll also work with Andy and Pete and I’m also responsible for new business.”

Graffin hung up his spikes in 2004 after making the 1500m semi-finals of the 2000 Olympics and praises the team ethos which evidently makes Nova tick:

“The team attitude at Nova is one of our biggest assets – you couldn’t find a better group of people to work with,” he explains.

“The Great Run Series are among the best mass participation running events in the world. Our Great CityGames are innovative and have a chance to break new ground with this event - the feedback we get from the elite athletes is fantastic. And then our Great Swim series are something altogether different – again these are a real step forward in the world of swimming and mass participation events.”

Having placed third and seventh, respectively in the 2004 Bupa Great Dublin and Manchester runs, Graffin indeed – just like his trio of running colleagues - knows what excites an elite athlete.

“Some have referred to the CityGames as athletics’ version of Twenty20 cricket, highlighting the fact that it is fast-paced and exciting, yet retains the credibility of the traditional sport.”

For these four athletics-mad men, tradition sums up their involvement to a tee– as the well-known saying goes, ‘once a runner, always a runner’ and also in their case, creating a runner’s dream, too.

Abi’s back on track


After battling with her health for the past six years, Abi Oyepitan’s injury nightmare has finally ended after the 200m runner captured Commonwealth silver in Delhi last week in a long-awaited welcome return to the international stage, writes Nicola Bamford.

In her fastest time for four years, the 30-year-old Shaftesbury Barnet sprinter sped to a 23.26 clocking to finish behind Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands (22.89) in her first major championship final since finishing seventh in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Coached by Tony Lester at Brunel University, Oyepitan was only fifth in the UK championships with 23.99 back in June but following two months of consistent training recently, the former World University Games 100m champion is back to showing glimpses of her former self:

“I’m really happy - it’s been a long, hard slog,” Oyepitan explained.

“I pulled my hamstring (after winning the Loughborough International 100m in May) so the trials were too early for me and I knew the European’s (in Barcelona in July) wouldn’t happen. I wanted to get the gold (in India) and go under 23-seconds but I can’t complain.”

Indeed, Oyepitan has suffered more than her fair share of injury woes since clocking impressive 11.17 and 22.50 times for the 100m and 200m, respectively, in 2004.

Apart from placing sixth in the 2006 European championship 200m final, the past six years have been full of devastating and frustrating blows for the athlete who works part-time as a volunteer coordinator at a reading charity for children in London.

“My biggest problem was a stress fracture of my shin,” Oyepitan revealed. “It took a couple of years to be diagnosed and then another year for the surgeons to decide that I needed an operation.

Then I had the knee and Achilles problems (the latter which she had surgery for in 2008 and again in 2009). It was one main problem which spiralled into several others – an absolute nightmare and beyond frustration.”

Admitting she would have quit the sport if her 2010 season had not gone so well, Oyepitan continued:

“The Commonwealth’s are a good stepping stone to hopefully move onto the World’s next year – I needed that boost of confidence. I just need that fitness element that I lack from years of problems. I’m finding my feet and learning how to execute a race technically correct again.

I just want an injury-free winter. I try not to plan ahead anymore. I hope to go to the 2011 Worlds (in Daegu, South Korea) and the London 2012 Olympics but I don’t just want to make the relay team or make up the numbers.”

Bewildered Lemoncello battling on


Just five days before the World half-marathon championships in China last weekend, Britain’s top marathoner Andrew Lemoncello was told that he could not compete and the US-based Scot has still not been given an explanation for his rejection from the event, writes Nicola Bamford.

Eighth and top British man on his debut with 2:13.40 in the Virgin London marathon last spring, Lemoncello qualified for the event with a 63:11 clocking in Japan back in February and had hopes of improving on his 26th place position from the 2009 edition in Birmingham, where he registered his current 63:03 lifetime best.

But a day after his 28th birthday, the former Olympic and World-level steeplechaser was given an unwanted belated gift in the form of an unexpected and frustrating dismissal from the second-most important competition of his autumn campaign.

“I wasn't told anything or given any reason for my visa denial,” Lemoncello explained.

“I tried to call and email every day but no one got back to me. I've never had any problems travelling before - I was in China for the (2004) Olympics so I don't know what the problem was.”

Guided by Greg McMillan and based in Flagstaff, Arizona for the past three years, Lemoncello had been in good form of late, placing ninth - and top Brit - in the Bupa Great North Run last month in 64:38, but he had hoped for better following a 28:47 10km personal best on the roads in Atlanta back in July.

In Nanning, China, Kenya’s Wilson Kiprop took victory in 60:07 whilst Bristol’s Claire Hallissey, as Britain’s sole representative and another who is based in the States, finished a commendable 18th in 73:07 in hot and humid conditions.

Originally from Fife and having lived in America for the past six years, Lemoncello, a Florida State University graduate revealed:

“I've got all the paperwork back and everything is filled out correctly. I sent away my paperwork three weeks before the championships and it was supposed to be a five-day process max.

I kept getting asked for more and more paperwork and to send off my American passport, as well as my UK passport.”

The 2005 and 2007 UK 3,000m steeplechase champion, who was fourth behind Australia’s Craig Mottram and Britain’s European 10,000m silver-medallist Chris Thompson in the Bupa Great Yorkshire 10km last month, continued:

“Training is going really well. I'm five weeks into my marathon training and starting to feel the strength gains already.

I will still want to run the World half in the future as it’s a great competition, it’s just a shame that I couldn't this year. I still watched the event online as two of my training partners were running.”

Targeting December’s Fukuoka marathon in an attempt to break the 2:12 barrier, Lemoncello will now switch his attentions to the Bupa Great South Run in Portsmouth this Sunday, where he will hope to put the disappointing experience behind him with a positive display.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Delhi reports continued again...


Men’s 400m hurdles - final

Golden Greene strikes again

Four years ago, Dai Greene was in Melbourne as part of an injury-ravaged Welsh 4x400m relay squad which couldn't compete but last Sunday, the recently-crowned European champion gained Commonwealth revenge in impressive style, taking victory in 48.52.

Eager to make his mark on his debut in these Games, 24-year-old Greene scorched away from the gun and gritted his teeth over the final few barriers to collect his second gold medal of the summer ahead of reigning champion and Games record-holder Louis Van Zyl of South Africa (48.63).

A title which had never tasted so sweet, Greene clocked 49.98 to convincingly take his heat and following victory in the IAAF/VTB Continental Cup in Spilt with a 47.88 lifetime best last month, glory was correctly predicted for the Swansea Harrier.

With the World championships in South Korea next summer ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, Greene is fast-asserting himself as a potential global medallist, and should his rate of progression continue, the Malcolm Arnold-coached sprint hurdler should feature prominently as he matures further.

The 25-year-old Van Zyl, meanwhile - who was a poor fifth and over two-seconds behind Greene in Split – ran 49.95 in his heat before striding clear of third-placed Rhys Williams of Wales.

The European silver-medallist renewed his great rivalry with his Welsh training partner to go one place better than four years ago with a 49.19 clocking for the 26-year-old, following 49.81 to win his heat the previous day.

Shortly behind in a personal best of 49.36 was Kenya’s Vincent Koskei, one place ahead of England’s Rick Yates (49.84).

The 24-year-old Trafford athlete ran strongly to almost emulate the 49.83 season’s best he scored whilst taking his heat ahead of Van Zyl and the UK bronze-medallist made his first championship final in the process.

Admirably finishing eighth at the end of his first season in the event, England’s David Hughes clocked 50.48, as the 26-year-old former 110m hurdler improved on his 50.55 heat time.

Evidently one to watch in the future, the English champion - who was also fifth in the UK champs behind Greene - has a best of 49.58 which would have placed him in fourth here.

Dale Garland of Guernsey failed to qualify with 51.48 in his heat.

3.40pm – men's 200m final
Baptiste comes of age
After an injury-ravaged summer which forced him to miss the European championships, England’s Leon Baptiste made up for his disappointing 2010 with gusto, as the 25-year-old claimed Commonwealth gold in scintillating style.
Following a strong start, Baptiste led the field through the half-way mark before pulling clear of Christian Malcolm in the final 50m, as Jamaica’s Lansford Spence (20.49) charged like a train to clinch the silver from the Welshman (20.52) whilst Baptiste scorched to a blistering 20.45 victory.
Taking England’s first men’s 200m Commonwealth crown since Julian Golding in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, Baptiste looked certain for a medal after a 20.43 lifetime best to win his semi-final over Malcolm.
His domination was evident throughout the entire competition, too as Baptiste also took wins in both the second round (20.68) and heat stages (21.06).
Spence, 27 and with a best of 20.63 prior to Delhi, sped to no less than three personal bests over the two days of action, with 20.60 in the second round, 20.54 in his semi and 20.49 in the final.
Malcolm, the recent European silver-medallist and runner-up in the 1998 edition, clocked times of 21.14, 20.93 and 20.53 over the rounds before the 31-year-old UK champion claimed his second major championship medal of the year in his fastest time of the event.
Meanwhile, in fifth position with 20.75, 2002 Commonwealth silver-medallist Marlon Devonish of England put up a sterling fight for a medal after sprinting to 21.15, 20.90 and 20.70 clockings before the 34-year-old World indoor champion from 2003 made yet another final in a long athletic career.
GOLD: Leon Baptiste (ENG) 20.45
SILVER: Lansford Spence (JAM) 20.49
BRONZE: Christian Malcolm (WAL) 20.52


Monday October 11

1pm – women's discus final

Indians delight with clean sweep

A trio of Indian women created history by not only claiming all three medals in this exhilarating event but also by capturing India’s first ever track and field gold medal on the women’s side.

Krishna Poonia (61.51m), Kaur Harwant (60.16m) and Seema Antil (58.46m) put on a breathtaking display for the home crowd as they dominated a field which included the reigning champion and the Games record-holder.

It was the 28-year-old Poonia, who has a best of 63.69m this year, who stole the show with her first round winning effort which ignited her two team-mates into action to clinch an unprecedented clean-sweep of the silverware.

Following two fouls, the champion attempted to increase her advantage but could only reach 58.80m and 58.27 following another no-mark but regardless, still sent the stadium into frenzy.

Harwant, 30, threw consistently around the 57-60m mark and her best of 60.16 in the third round was enough to comfortably hold off the challenge of the third home entrant, Antil – the 27-year-old whose best effort came in the third round of a series in which she remained in the 55-58m area.

Further back by 47cm, Wales’ Phillipa Roles finished a credible fourth, courtesy of her 57.99m throw in the first round. The 32-year-old Welsh champion fouled in the second and third round and registered marks of 56.15m, 56.69 and 56.01 in her following efforts.

Just behind New Zealand’s Beatrice Faumuina – the 35-year-old Games record-holder (57.79m) was England’s Jade Nicholls in sixth position.

The 23-year-old Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier and UK champion had a best of 57.62m from her second of three rounds to match her 54.79m and 56.42 throws – one place behind the reigning champion, South Africa’s Elizna Naude (57.61m).

GOLD: Krishna Poonia (IND) 61.51m
SILVER: Kaur Harwant (IND) 60.16m
BRONZE: Seema Antil (IND) 58.46m

2pm – men's 3000m steeplechase final

Kenyans dominate, Stokes returns

In arguably one of the strongest events at the Games, a trio of top Kenyans annihilated the opposition in breathtaking fashion over the final 800m to grab the three medals at stake in scintillating style.

World champion Ezekiel Kemboi went straight into the lead with Uganda’s Benjamin Kiplagat, the 2008 World junior silver-medallist for company, as England’s Luke Gunn settled into the fourth spot.

Moving up to second after 300m behind Kiplagat and ahead of two Indian athletes, Gunn looked comfortable as the three Kenyans suddenly appeared to be happy to sit at the back of the pack and relax amongst Stuart Stokes of England.

With the first kilometre passed in an easy 2:51.32, Gunn continued his gutsy display whilst sharing the lead at three minutes in, with the Kenyans still jogging to tactically pace themselves near the rear.

Around the mid-way stage the 33-year-old Stokes moved up into fifth position, as his African counterparts started to gradually up the tempo. Gunn, meanwhile – the 25-year-old UK champion seeking redemption after missing this summer’s European championships - gamely held on behind Kiplagat.

With the action hotting up around the five minute mark, a sharp sudden injection of pace saw the Kenyans shoot away, with Gunn and Stokes sticking to their task in the fifth and sixth spots.

As Kemboi, the 28-year-old reigning champion and 2004 Olympic gold-medallist became impatient with the slow pace, the leaders hit 2km in 5:43.06 and at six-minutes in, the trio and Kiplagat pulled 50m clear from Gunn and Stokes, who worked together to remain strong.

With the pace constantly increasing by the second courtesy of further injections from Olympic and World medallist Mateelong and his team-mate Kemboi, a thrilling last circuit was ascertained as the trio hit the bell all in close contention.

Coming off the final water-jump, Mateelong dug in deep to take his first championship title (in 8:16.39) three days before his 27th birthday in a tight finish from Kemboi (8:18.47), with the 25-year-old Olympic champion Kipruto a clear third (8:19.65).

Beijing and Berlin finalist Kiplagat came home in fourth (8:24.15) ahead of Stokes, whose 8:32.24 season’s best maintained the Sale Harrier’s fine record in this event, following fourth and fifth place in the past two editions despite returning from semi-retirement last year.

Gunn, from Derby AC, finished in seventh position with 8:40.44, his slowest of the season.

GOLD: Richard Mateelong (KEN) 8:16.39
SILVER: Ezekiel Kemboi (KEN) 8:18.47
BRONZE: Brimin Kipruto (KEN) 8:19.65


Disability events

Men’s 100m T46

Australia’s Simon Patmore sped to an 11.14 lifetime best in taking the men’s T46 100m, as the 23-year-old pipped Samkelo Radebe of South Africa for the gold.

The 21-year-old runner-up clocked 11.25 ahead of Ayuba Abdullahi (NGR), who at aged 20, took the bronze in a time of 11.37.

England’s 17-year-old Ola Abidogun performed strongly to place fifth in a time of 11.50.

Men’s 1500m T54

Multiple World and Olympic medallist Kurt Fearnley took the men’s T54 1500m victory in 3:19.86 as the 29-year-old Australian came home ahead of his team-mate 25-year-old Richard Colman (3:20.90).

Canada’s Josh Cassidy took the bronze, as the 25-year-old registered 3:21.14 three places ahead of Wales’ Brian Alldis, 24 (3:21.85).

Men’s shot F32/34/52

It was 27-year-old Canadian Kyle Pettey who stole the show, setting a superb new F34 World record of 11.34 in the men’s shot.

England’s Daniel West (F34) placed runner-up with a solid 10.78 throw ahead of Australia’s 36-year-old Hamish McDonald (F34) with 9.92m.

Welsh duo Ashleigh Hellyer and Daniel Davies finished fifth and seventh, respectively, as the 19-year-old pair in the F32 class threw 6.80, and 4.50m – a season’s best for the latter.

Women’s 100m T37

England’s Katrina Hart scorched to an impressive 14.36 personal best when taking the women’s T37 100m final.

The 20-year-old finished comfortably ahead of Wales’ Jenny McLoughlin (19), who equalled her 14.68 best and Nambia’s Johanna Benson (14.81).

England’s 17-year-old Bethany Woodward finished sixth in 15.27.

Women’s 1500m T54

At the age of 39, Canada’s Diane Roy dominated the women’s T54 1500m in a scintillating 3:53.95.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Nigeria’s 18-year-old Chineme Obeta finished runner-up in 4:09.29 as Anita Fordjour (28 of Ghana) clocked a lifetime best of 4:18.83 for the bronze.

Women’s shot F32-34/52/53

Australia’s Louise Ellery took the women’s F32 class in the shot, courtesy of the 33-year-old’s 6.17m personal best effort.

England’s 27-year-old Gemma Prescott captured the F32 silver medal with a 5.54m throw and placed third in the overall competition behind 20-year-old Jess Hamill of New Zealand, who in the F34 class took victory with 7.17m.


Tuesday October 12

1pm – women's pole-vault final

Equal bronze upset for Dennison

After being strongly tipped to claim the gold medal following a 4.55m season’s best, UK record-holder Kate Dennison of England once again bowed to championship pressure as she was reduced to equal third (with 4.25m) in a weak contest.

Taking advantage of the occasion and Dennison’s off-day was Australia’s Alana Boyd, who leapt an equal 2010 best of 4.40m after first-time clearances at 4.10m, 4.25 and her winning height.

The 26-year-old boasts a 4.56 lifetime best and was recently sixth in the IAAF/VTB Continental Cup in Split with 4.35 before claiming her first major championship title here.

Also leaping to her first international medal in second place was 20-year-old Marianna Zacharadi of Cyprus, who missed her first attempt at 4.25 before clearing 4.40m on her first try.

Both athletes had three misses at 4.55m as they attempted to decide a clear winner.

Continuing her poor form from this summer’s European championships where she placed sixth, Dennison cleared 4.10m and 4.25m with ease but failed on all three attempts at a lowly – by her standards – 4.40m.

Canadian duo Carly Dockendorf and Kelsie Hendry had the exact same series so shared the bronze-medal position with the 26-year-old from Sale who placed sixth in the 2009 World championships, which was nevertheless an improvement on seventh place four years ago.

For 27-year-old Dockendorf, the result was solid as her 2010 best stands at only 4.45m but for Hendry (eighth in 2006) too, equal bronze with 4.40m was a disappointment as the 28-year-old was sixth in the World indoor final back in the spring.

Further back in seventh place on her senior championship debut, England’s Emma Lyons cleared 4.10 behind Australia’s Amanda Bisk (4.25m).

The 23-year-old Sale Harrier – with a best of 4.25m this season - cleared 3.65m and 3.80m on her first attempts, 3.90 on her second and her final height on her first try.

The English champion, who was twelfth in the 2009 European under23 championships, had three misses at 4.25m but performed solidly in her first senior experience.

Welsh duo Sally Peake (3.95m) and Bryony Raine (3.80m) finished ninth and twelfth, respectively, as they continued their development admirably.

Peake, the 24-year-old Welsh runner-up, has made a 50cm improvement on her best in 2010 and the Liverpool Harrier cleared 3.80m and 3.85m on the first occasion before having three misses at 4.10m.

Cardiff’s Raine, 24, had first-time clearances at 3.65 and 3.80m before conceding three misses at 3.95m.

Scotland’s Henrietta Paxton, meanwhile, no-marked in the straight final despite a 4.35m best this year.

GOLD: Alana Boyd (AUS) 4.40m
SILVER: Marianna Zacharadi (CYP) 4.40m
BRONZE: Kate Dennison (ENG)/ Carly Dockendorf (CAN)/Kelsie Hendry (CAN) 4.25m

1.25pm – women's 4x100m final

English lions roar to success

In marvellous dominant fashion, the English quartet gave a master-class of high-quality baton changes, as their confidence and team camaraderie shown through in a powerful display of speed to capture the Commonwealth crown by over a second in 44.19.

In a straight, open final, the English ladies took their sixth title in the history of these Games from underdogs and surprise medallists, Ghana (45.24) and India (45.25).

With the Jamaicans’ lower-ranked development squad being disqualified for a faulty change-over, the Nigerian outfit took fourth place after recovering from a fall just after the third change to finish fourth in a distant 48.87.

The victors in lane four started their campaign with 100m silver-medallist Katherine Endacott, who capped a brilliant week after taking five years out to have a daughter by closing down the Jamaicans on her outside in quick fashion, clocking an impressive...split to get the golden ball rolling.

A smooth changeover followed onto UK record-holder Montell Douglas, who flew down the back straight to show signs of a return to top form following injury this year with a scintillating... split before passing onto Laura Turner.

Determined to make amends after falling foul of disqualification in the individual 100m earlier in the week, Turner had a strong .... run ahead of passing onto England’s comeback queen Abi Oyepitan.

The 200m runner-up from the previous day in 23.26, Oyepitan sped off to instant 10m lead in her first relay in an injury-ravaged six years to power home superbly in a....leg to anchor England to a glorious gold.

GOLD: England 44.19
SILVER: Ghana 45.24
BRONZE: India 45.25

2.20pm – women's 5000m final

Kenyans sweep, Twell matures

Kenya predictably collected their ninth gold medal of the week as a trio of their top athletes sped away over the final 400m to comfortably take the top three spots from Scotland’s fast-maturing Steph Twell in fourth.

Starting at a pedestrian 85.1 second pace, Twell and her Scottish team-mate Freya Murray jogged at the head of the nine-woman pack with Australia’s Eloise Wellings for company, as the Kenyans – Vivian Cheriuyot, Sylvia Kibet and Innes Chenonge - bided their time at the rear.

Going through the first kilometre in 3:28.23, Murray and Twell maintained their positions, whilst England’s sole representative, 19-year-old Charlotte Purdue lay tucked in at the back with the eventual medallists.

It was not until the four-minute mark when World champion and IAAF Diamond League series winner Cheruiyot made a move to the head of the field, where she remained relaxed with Twell moving up to her side.

With 2km passed in 6:53.03, the pace was still comfortable, as the three Kenyans gradually applied the pressure ahead of 27-year-old Wellings and Twell.

Determined to hang onto her position, 20-year-old Twell, the former World junior 1500m champion, returned to the shoulder of Cheriuyot nearing the 3km point (10:02.64) as the pace further increased, with Murray and Purdue still working hard to cling onto the pack.

Thirteen minutes in and the pace grew hotter at 73-second laps, with Twell – third in the 1500m earlier in the week - running stride for stride with the 26-year-old recent Continental Cup winner Cheruiyot (who has ran 14:27.41 to Twell’s 14:54.08 this summer).

With Purdue - Twell’s training partner at Aldershot, Farnham and District with coach Mick Woods – now slightly ahead of 27-year-old Murray from Edinburgh, the leading group was reduced to five as 4km was passed in 13:09.86.

With five women in contention for three medals and 600m remaining, Cheruiyot gently moved through the gears to up the pace and at the bell, stretched out with her two team-mates from Twell in a clear fourth, still battling on.

With Wellings - sixth in the 10,000m earlier in the week in 33:36.76 - 20m adrift, Twell duly powered on in the wake of her African counterparts, as Purdue stormed the final 800m to pull away from Murray – both performing admirably following their 10,000m exertions (fourth in 33:13.02 and fifth in 33:24.59, respectively).

The event was ultimately reduced to a two-woman battle in the final 200m as Cheruiyot and 26-year-old World silver-medallist Kibet pulled clear of 2002 bronze-medallist Chenonge.

Sprinting strongly, Cheriuyot kicked away again in the final 50m to take victory in 15:55.12 form Kibet’s 15:55.61.

Taking bronze, Chenonge clocked 16:02.47 as Twell finished strongly to register 16:03.91 in fourth position to finish a commendable weeks’ work in her debut competitions for Scotland.

Purude, the 2009 European junior runner-up and English champion this summer, used the speed which saw her clock a 15:23.40 lifetime best this summer after returning from injury to finish sixth behind Wellings in 16.16.13 to the Australian’s 16:11.97.

UK and Scottish champion, Murray finished in seventh place with 16:26.22.

GOLD: Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 15:55.12
SILVER: Sylvia Kibet (KEN) 15:55.61
BRONZE: Iness Chenonge (KEN) 16:02.47

3.20pm – men's 4x400m final

Close call in one lap relay

In a thrilling final event of the action on the track, England’s men claimed the bronze medal in a tight-finish behind winners Australia and runners-up Kenya.

Clocking 3:03.97 to Australia’s 3:03.30 and Kenya’s 3:03.84, the English quartet of Conrad Williams (46.0), Nick Leavey (46.2), Rick Yates (46.2) and Rob Tobin (45.4) pushed medal favourites the Bahamas into fourth place (with 3:04.45) in an exhilarating race which saw Melbourne bronze-medallists Jamaica disqualified.

After placing second in their heat behind the Kenyans in 3:05.34, England started off strongly, courtesy of Williams’ strong opening – a few days after finishing seventh in the individual semi-final (in 47.02).

Williams came home first ahead of 400m fifth-placer Joel Millburn of Australia (46.1), Wales’ 400m hurdles bronze-medallist Rhys Williams (46.2) and Kenya’s Vincent Koskei (46.4) in a tight opening.

Flying off on the second leg, English 400m champion Leavey shot straight into the lead for the first 200m as the Bahamas (through 400m fourth-placer Michael Mathieu in a swift 44.9), Kenya and Australia pushed through round the top bend before Wales’ Joe Thomas (seventh in the 800m) caught the pack with a superb 45.8 to keep Wales in contention.

With the medals still undecided, Australia’s Brendan Cole (46.0) marginally retained the lead from the Bahamas and England, as Yates – fifth in the 400m hurdles - finished strongly to bring the squad into the runners-up spot with one leg to go. Meanwhile, Wales’ Chris Gowell, a semi-finallist in the 800m, ran 48.4.

With the crowd going wild and the race still any teams’ for the taking, the final lap saw fireworks, with several 45-second splits registered.

Australia’s 400m silver-medallist Sean Wroe (45.1) set off in determined fashion ahead of Tobin (45.4) and Kenya’s 400m champion Mark Muttai (45.0) in close contention.

With Botswana’s Obakeng Ngwininga (45.3) and 400m bronze-medallist Ramon Miller of the Bahamas (45.1) applying the pressure also, five teams were left scrapping for the medals with just 100m remaining.

In scintillating style it was Australia who stretched away from Kenya and England in the dying metres, as Olympic and two-time Commonwealth champions the Bahamas pipped Botswana for fourth, ahead of Wales - who used 800m fourth-placer Gareth Warburton on the anchor, with 46.3 - in sixth (3:06.91).

Guernsey, meanwhile, failed to qualify for the final, finishing fifth in their heat with 3:14.51.

GOLD: AUS 3:03.30
SILVER: KEN 3:03.84
BRONZE: ENG 3:03.97

Delhi reports continued...


Saturday October 9

2am – men's 20km walk final

Tallent prevails for Aussie duo

Australia claimed an impressive one-two in a text-book display of pacing and team-work, as Jared Tallent walked to a Games Record of 1:22.18 (*thought it was Nathan Deakes’1:17.33 but results say it was a new record?) to capture the gold ahead of Luke Adams.

Eight years his junior, Tallent, 25, did not take the lead until the 14km point as 33-year-old Adams stayed just ahead at the 4km mark and then again between 7km and 14km before the World-ranked number two took over and pulled away in the final few hundred metres to establish a 13-second winning margin.

Tallent’s 2km splits were consistently between 8:05 and 8:19 and after a steady 8:27 initial section, the double Olympic medallist went through 4km in 16:35, 8km in 32:58, 10km in 41:14, 12km in 49:30 and 16km in 1:05.54 before stretching out to improve on his third place in the 2006 edition.

Adams, collecting silver in 1:22.31, ensured AW’s top-two prediction was correct and was comfortably ahead of India’s Harminder Singh, who surprisingly ran a lifetime best of 1:23.28 to delight the home nation.

The 26-year-old was with the top pair right up until the 15km mark but his final 2km was his slowest (8:45) but was still good enough to take the bronze.

Further back in fourth was the slightly unusual sight of a Kenyan, David Kimutai yet many may have forgotten that the 41-year-old set his lifetime best only last year, was 19th in the 2008 Olympics and placed fourth in Melbourne.

Just in front at 2km and then again at 6km, Kimutai remained with the leaders until halfway but suffered from 14km onwards, as his 2km splits slowed by twenty to forty-seconds, ultimately finishing in 1:25.29.

England’s Luke Finch was the best of the Brits in tenth position with 1:29.37 and the 25-year-old maintained his pace between 8:37 and 9:13, as he hit the 10km mark in 43:56 before slowing in the second half.

Just behind was 20-year-old Tom Bosworth eleventh (1:30.44) after reaching halfway in 44:20, he slowed between the 8km and 11km marks before speeding up for a few kilometres to slow again in the final stages.

England’s third man, Alex Wright walked admirably to thirteenth as the 19-year-old clocked 1:34.26 after walking to 10km in 44:13 before struggling from 14km ahead of picking up the pace near the finish.

GOLD: Jared Tallent (AUS) 1:22.18
SILVER: Luke Adams (AUS) 1:22.31
BRONZE: Harminder Singh (IND) 1:23.28

2.10pm – women's 3000m steeplechase final

Kenyan clean-sweep crashes party

Entering on the eve of the championships, three Kenyans gate-crashed this previously-thought open-race by taking all three medals in comfortable style.

World bronze medallist Chemos Chewya showed her class by taking victory in 9:40.96 – almost thirty seconds down on her best mark – as the 24-year-old held off a late challenge from her team-mate Mercy Njoroge (9:41.54).

The runner-up in the IAAF/VTB Continental Cup recently, Chewya started the race mid-pack with 24-year-old Njoroge and Gladys Kipkemoi – the trio all patiently biding their time as England’s Tina Brown took on the early pace-setting role.

Former national record-holder Brown, 34, led the field through 1km in 3:13.90 with the Kenyans shortly behind, England’s Helen Clitheroe further back saving her energy after her 1,500m exertions the previous evening (placing eighth) and Scotland’s Lennie Waite, 24, five metres adrift.

Four minutes in still at a steady pace for the three Africans, they then decided to take control with Brown just behind, as Clitheroe – alongside two Indian athletes – ran wide to give herself a clear view of the barriers ahead.

After the five minute mark, Brown relinquished her time in the leading pack, dropping back into sixth position just behind Clitheroe as the Kenyan trio and India’s Sudha Singh pressed ahead.

With three laps remaining, a three metre gap developed between the English duo and Singh with Chewya taking the field through 2km in 6:31.50 just as Clitheroe overtook Brown.

With 800m to go, the Kenyans continued their domination in impressive style with Chewya effortlessly clearing the water-jump like a hurdle as three became two after Kipkemoi, eighth in Berlin, tripped and fell.

At the bell, Clitheroe began to reel in Singh whilst 23-year-old Njoroge stumbled at the water before unleashing one final determined effort in the final 50m to just miss out on the gold as Chewya gritted her teeth for glory.

Clitheroe meanwhile, despite having not practised or raced over the barriers for two months and having only entered the event at the last minute, finished strongly to overtake Singh for fourth (in 9:56.37), not far behind Kipkemoi.

Waite came in shortly behind (10:02.12) ahead of a heavily-fatigued Brown (10:13.04).

GOLD: Chemos Chewya (KEN) 9:40.96
SILVER: Mercy Njoroge (KEN) 9:41.54
BRONZE: Gladys Kipkemoi (KEN) 9:52.51


Sunday October 10

1pm – men's discus final

Formbook followed in discus

With the three medals going to the same order of athletes from qualifying, the results followed the formbook to the finest detail.

With a season’s best more than three metres further than any of his competitors, Australia’s Benn Harradine (65.45m) predictably took the gold ahead of home favourite Vikas Gowda (63.69m).

Despite being exactly a metre down on his 2010 best, the commanding Australian set out his stall in the qualifying round by coming out on top by over a metre (with 61.98m) from the Indian, who was hoping to give his nation something special to celebrate.

Harradine, 27, started comfortably with a 60.18m throw to place second to Gowda (62.84) in the first round before upping the tempo in the second with a huge 64.73 effort, which Gowda would never match.

With his winning throw coming in the fourth round, Harradine refused to rest on his laurels, having a solid try at improving his mark with a 64.88 effort on his sixth and final try.

Although destined for the runner’s-up position, the 27-year-old Gowda put on a determined display, which saw him produce a season’s best in the second round.

A consistent series followed with 63.26m and 63.24m in the fourth and fifth rounds, as the silver-medallist was buoyed by the home support to respond to the overall victor.

Collecting the bronze in his secondary event behind the shot put, England’s
Carl Myerscough produced a second round throw of 60.64m to replicate his position from qualifying (60.02m).

The 30-year-old self-coached athlete from Blackpool was lying in fourth place with 58.86m after the first round and had three no-throws in the third, fifth and sixth but his furthest of only two efforts was enough to capture the final medal ahead of England’s discus-specialist Emeka Udechuku.

The 31-year-old threw 59.59m in the final round to finish fifth, following a 59.50m effort in the second. Wales’ Brett Morse, meanwhile, was one place behind (58.91m) as the 21-year-old was inspired after missing out on European selection this summer.
Jersey’s Zane Duquemin, 19, took tenth place with a throw of 51.86m in the first of three rounds and Scotland’s Angus McInroy’s 49.98m in the third (after two no-throws) placed him in eleventh position.
GOLD: Benn Harradine (AUS) 65.45m
SILVER: Vikas Gowda (IND) 63.69m
BRONZE: Carl Myerscough (ENG) 60.64m

1.55pm – women's long jump final
Canadian breaks Indian hearts

The home crowd and their sweetheart Prajusha Maliakkal were left heartbroken after having the gold medal snatched away from them at the very last minute by Canada’s
Alice Falaiye in a thrilling competition.

Maliakkal, the Indian triple jump record-holder, leapt a promising 6.47m in the fourth round only to be demoted to the silver medal position as Falaiye raised her game to a surprising 6.50m on her final effort.

In nail-biting fashion, the duo swapped the lead on various occasions as a fascinating battle unfolded.

The 31-year-old Falaiye lay in only fifth position after a lacklustre 6.11m first round leap before the 23-year-old Maliakkal responded with 6.31m to Falaiye’s 6.28m in the second.

The Canadian again raised her game with 6.37m on her third round effort but Maliakkal showed her determination to remain ahead with an impressive 6.43m.

An opportunity appeared to beckon as the Canadian fouled on her fourth attempt whilst the home favourite took advantage with 6.47m, her best jump of the evening, but in the wake of her foul in the fifth round and Falaiye motivated after her 6.44m leap, the elder athlete left her best until last with a superb 6.50m jump to take the victory in a last-gasp display.

Maliakkal, with her light, slight frame, tried in vain to regain her lead with one final 6.26m attempt but the gold had gone – much to the dismay of the athlete and her entire expectant nation.

A second Canadian, Tabia Charles – primarily a triple-jumper and sporting unusual fishnet stockings, made the podium with a 6.44m season’s best in the fifth round to finish only three centimetres adrift of the silver.

GOLD: Aliec Flaiye (CAN) 6.50m
SILVER: Prajusha Maliakkal (IND) 6.47m
BRONZE: Tabia Charles (CAN) 6.44m

Commonwealth Games reports - Delhi 2010


Thursday October 7

Women’s Hammer

Favourite Frizell delivers

Dominating the field by almost four-metres and breaking the Commonwealth Games record by 67cm with a 68.57m throw, Canada’s Sultana Frizell stole the show in the second final of these championships.

Evidently in a class of her own following her recent 72.24 Commonwealth record earlier this summer, Frizell comfortably launched her best effort in the second round following a tentative 59.87m first throw.

The 2009 World finalist then went on to clear 65-metres on three occasions with 66.47m and 68.07m in the fourth and sixth rounds, respectively.

Not following the form book quite as closely was Wales’ Carys Parry, who recorded a season’s best mark with an impressive 64.93m throw in the second round to hold onto her silver medal throughout the competition.

Exceeding 64-metres three times with an additional 64.76m and 64.19m to support her medal-winning effort, the 29-year-old Parry – who led the qualifiers with 63.53m – greatly improved on her sixth place from Melbourne 2006 and went some way to potentially one day emulating her coach, Lorraine Shaw’s 2002 winning-performance.

Parry, who competes in a lucky hat, said of her display:

“I am chuffed. I just stayed relaxed, I've been relaxed all day. People were struggling, people were down because it's quite late in the season.

I was actually quite consistent out there, I actually felt I had a bigger throw in me. I wouldn't have won it, so I am happy.

I can throw a lot further. Hopefully I can have a good winter this winter because this year has not been a great year for me, so to finish with a silver medal is amazing. I've had back problems and missed about two months of training. I wasn't sure if I was going to be ready, but thankfully, the games were late and it's worked out.”

A second athlete from Shaw’s stable made the podium too, with bronze-medal predicted Zoe Derham living up to expectations with a 64.04m first round throw.

Representing England, the 29-year-old UK champion - who has a 2010 best of 66.89m - consistently hovered around the 61-metre mark in her final few attempts as she additionally improved on her 2006 form where she placed fifth, following eighth place in Manchester 2002.

Wales’ Laura Douglas was the final qualifier with a 59.52m throw before the 26-year-old progressed to 61.05m in the first round to place a respectable eighth, one position higher than four-years ago.

The pre-event favourite for the silver medal following a recorded 68.22m this year, Crystal Smith of Canada disappointed in eleventh place with a 59.65m mark and two fouls.

England’s Sarah Holt, with a 65.51m best this season, disappointed with a 57.91m effort which ensured the 23-year-old failed to go through to the final.

GOLD: Sultana Frizell (CAN) 68.57m
SILVER: Carys Parry (WAL) 64.93m
BRONZE: Zoe Derham (ENG) 64.04m

Men’s 100m

Silver lining continues for MLF

Continuing arguably the finest season of his athletic career, European silver-medallist Mark Lewis-Francis added a second piece of silver to his 2010 resume with a fine 10.20 clocking behind Jamaica’s Lerone Clarke (10.12) in the blue-ribbon event of men’s sprinting in the Indian capital.

Following two years of injury woes and a subsequent Achilles operation, the 28-year-old Birchfield Harrier won his heat in 10.15 – his fastest time for five years – then sped to 10.20 and 10.17 in the second round and semi-final before cruising superlatively in the final to survive a huge slip of his starting blocks, which left him dead-last for the first 40-metres.

Controlling the mid-part of his race, however, MLF closed his Jamaican counterpart down in final 30-metres for tight finish in the most pleasantly-surprising season of all British athletes this year.

England’s sole representative in the event, the Linford Christie-coached sprinter was understandably elated yet disappointed the mishap cost him the victory as his “Commonwealth curse” continued following an injury-ravaged 2002 final and disqualification in 2006.

Lewis-Francis revealed:

“If you'd told me 18-months ago (I would have won silver) at the Commonwealth Games I would have told you to shhhhhhh. But I am happy, I do believe I could have done a bit more. Another medal in the bag, second one to my senior career.

I came up into the set position, pushed away and they went backwards. I don't know, I don't think I pushed them (the starting blocks) in properly, it's just one of those things. The thought in my mind was that I am not leaving here without a medal. I think that was one of the best races I have ever run in. If you look at the second part of the race I felt strong.

For me, this is confidence for next year and the year after. One more year and I'll be there. I am the lightest I have ever been, I am the strongest I have ever been and I think I am in a good place.”

Despite the Jamaican squad not fielding the finest such as Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter and Yohan Blake, their nationally-ranked eighth-placed athlete kept the 100m crown in their backyard – albeit in the slowest time since Don Quarry’s 1974 win.

Quick out of blocks with 0.165 reaction time, Clarke – who has endured a long, busy season indoors and across Europe on the outdoor circuit – maintained his form to capture his first major international title.

The 28-year-old, whose mother and family reside in England, failed to make the 2006 final but here used his 10.10 ability to storm to a popular victory.

Trinidad and Tobago’s 32-year-old Aaron Armstrong consolidated his 10.14 semi-final win with a strong 10.24 clocking for third-place, whilst AW’s gold-medal prediction, Sam Effah of Canada disappointed in seventh in 10.37.

GOLD: Lerone Clarke (JAM) 10.12
SILVER: Mark Lewis-Francis (ENG) 10.20
BRONZE: Aaron Armstrong (TRI) 10.24

Friday October 8


Lifetime bests galore for English lions

Long-time leader Jamie Adjetey-Nelson of Canada took the decathlon title by a 171 point margin with an impressive 8070 score over the ten-event discipline.

The 26-year-old Beijing Olympic eighth-placer only registered two lifetime bests in the shot (15.00m) and in the pole vault (4.70m) but a consistently-strong series of performances were enough for the Canadian champion to clinch victory ahead Brent Newdick of New Zealand (7899).

Fourth in the 2006 Commonwealth’s, Newdick leapt a 7.42m personal best in the long jump and vaulted a best of 4.80m in the pole vault, which kept the 26-year-old clear for the runners’ up position.

With Jamaica’s 32-year-old former Commonwealth champion Claston Bernard withdrawing after registering no-marks in the pole vault and javelin, the battle for bronze was a tight one between two Englishmen.

Martin Brockman and Ben Hazell overtook their England team-mate Kevin Sempers in the final event, the 1,500m to sensationally place third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Hovering near the medals for much of the competition, 22-year-old Brockman collected a superb seven lifetime bests to claim his first senior international championship medal with a 7712 personal best score to boot.

In a magnificent display, Brockman scorched to a 11.36 100m, leapt 7.29m in long jump, scored a 13.50m shot, jumped 2.14m in high jump, ran 49.95 in 400m, vaulted 4.60m in the pole vault and threw 51.96m in the javelin before a producing a solid 4:26.28 to win the 1500m to secure the bronze.

Hazell meanwhile, collated a season’s best of 7676 points in fourth and the 26-year-old took personal bests in the shot (13.30m) and dicus (48.01m) before placing runner-up in the 1,500m behind Brockman in one last push to get near a medal.

Sempers, although finishing fifth after a tired 5:04.93 in the final event, was at least rewarded with a solid 7571 lifetime best overall score.

Wales’ Ben Gregory placed sixth with another lifetime best for the Brits, this time scoring 7383. The 19-year-old gathered an impressive five personal bests with a 14.85 to win the second heat of the 110m hurdles, 1.90m in the high jump, 49.59 to win his 400m heat, 14.85 in the 110m hurdles to win his heat and 5.20m to win the pole vault.

Northern Ireland’s Tom Reynolds leapt a personal best-breaking 4.60m in the pole vault to place ninth overall with 7210, whilst Scotland’s Roger Skedd failed to complete the final three events.

GOLD: Jamie Adjetey-Nelson (CAN) 8070
SILVER: Brent Newdick (NZL) 7899
BRONZE: Martin Brockman (ENG) 7712

Men's 110m hurdles

Golden Turner leads England clean-sweep

In glorious fashion, England’s Andy Turner led Team England to an emphatic clean-sweep of the medals in this, his second major international championship victory of 2010.

Following on from his superb European championship victory in Barcelona last July, Turner sped away from the gun with compatriot Will Sharman and pulled clear in the final metres to clock an impressive 13.38 for glory.

Ensuring the action was as hot as the 31-degree heat and 74% humidity, Sharman and the third Englishman, 20-year-old Lawrence Clarke from lane eight, stormed ahead of the rest of the field to take the silver and bronze in 13.50 and 13.70, respectively.

Into a +0.1m/s wind with a 0.157 reaction time, 30-year-old Turner – the 2006 bronze-medallist coached by Lloyd Cowan - was the fastest qualifier for the final with a 13.58 clocking earlier in the day and by collecting his second championship title this year, the Sale Harrier ensured this to be the finest season of his athletic career.

UK champion Sharman was inspired to make amends for his disqualification at the semi-final stage in Spain and the 26-year-old 2009 World fourth-placer did just that in scintillating style to prove AW’s one-two prediction as correct.

Against the odds, Sharman – who picked up a virus prior to the heats – only decided to race because his mother and sister had travelled to watch him compete, as he had previously struggled to keep food and fluid down and was subsequently rushed to hospital following the final to be placed on a drip.

Further showing English grit and determination, 2009 European junior champion Clarke collected his first senior international championship medal despite tearing his hip flexor the morning of the heats so passed on even attempting a warm-up before the final.

Storming through the field in the final metres, Clarke – the English senior champion - pipped Jamaica’s Eric Keddo and Hansle Parchment (both 13.71), the latter a personal best for the 20-year-old.

Scotland’s Chris Baillie placed eighth in 13.97, a disappointing result for the 29-year-old 2006 silver-medallist.

GOLD: Andy Turner (ENG) 13.38
SILVER: Will Sharman (ENG) 13.50
BRONZE: Lawrence Clarke (ENG) 13.70

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Hooked on Height


Sport is full of serial achievers, athletes who are obsessed with winning and pushing their boundaries further and Australian pole-vaulter Steve Hooker is certainly no exception, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 28-year-old from Melbourne is no less than the reigning World, Olympic and World indoor champion and just this week added the Commonwealth crown to his impressive collection.

Accustomed to attaining gold in a clear-cut manner, Hooker has spent the past few seasons as arguably the finest vaulter on the planet but this is a man who refuses to rest on his laurels in his relentless mission to become the greatest of all time.

Coached by Alex Parnov in Perth and based in Cologne during the European summer, Hooker’s latest victory came in Delhi on Tuesday night, where he leapt a mere 5.60m to defend his Commonwealth crown.

Taking only two efforts to seal the gold, Hooker ended a rare turbulent season which did include capturing the World indoor title (in Doha with a 6.01m championship record) and glory in the Continental Cup in Split last month, however.


In a prolonged 2010 campaign, Hooker experienced many disappointments, namely a series of no-heights in three IAAF Diamond League competitions on the European circuit before turning his year around to post the world’s leading mark of the season with 5.95m in Croatia.

Conceding his focus on competing in Delhi perhaps hindered his form earlier in the year, Hooker admitted:

“I think I had four objectives for this season - World indoors, Continental Cup and Commonwealth Games, probably Diamond League is the one where I didn't achieve what I wanted to.

In part, I think that is probably because I was always throughout the season having this competition in my mind and always thinking about doing enough training in between those competitions to really set myself up so I could come here and compete.”

The sacrifices paid off when it came to championship time, though, as Hooker added yet another international title to his resume:

“I said I came here to win gold and whatever the height would be I’d be happy if I achieved that, so I’m happy,” Hooker said after the event.

In pursuit of his own Commonwealth Games record of 5.80m set in Melbourne in 2006, Hooker raised the bar to 5.81m but opted out of the chase after feeling a twinge in his left, take-off knee – the possible after-effect from falling off the pole-vault bed in the Great North CityGames in Newcastle last month.

Were it not for the niggle, Hooker could have easily gone higher but he insisted he decision was purely a precautionary measure:

"I blocked all my attempts at 5.70m and my knee, which has been a bit of an issue over the last month, just didn't agree with that and sort of seized up a bit.

I really think I did just enough this season so I could actually get through the season. In the end, it probably did cost me a few good performances and a bit of consistency in the middle of the season, but getting the result, I feel like it is
all worthwhile.

I think it told me my season was over. I wanted to have one more jump, I wanted to jump the Games record, but I just didn't think it was there."


The frustration said it all for the man who only turned professional in 2006, for Hooker is an athlete who is always seeking more from himself.

Second behind pole-vault legend Sergey Bubka on the world all-time lists with 6.06m, Hooker seemingly has it all – a full collection of championship medals and the highest vaults around the globe for several years - but consistency and health is what he yearns for the most.

After placing third in the World indoors and claiming Olympic gold in Beijing two years ago with 5.96m to become Australia’s first track and field gold-medallist for forty years, Hooker had to use mind of matter to take World gold last summer.

Hampered by a groin injury and having missed 5.85m on his first jump of the final, he took the risky decision to attempt 5.90m and to then leave the competition – luckily, his tactic paid off.

“2009 was good for me – my goal was to win the World’s,” Hooker explained.

“I wasn’t happy but it turned out well. I was injured two weeks before but managed to come out with a strategy that enabled me to jump enough to win. I now always think that no matter what the situation, you can always find the strength to win the competition.”


The son of the 1978 women’s Commonwealth long-jump runner-up and four-time men’s Australian 800m champion, Hooker has strength and genetic talent aplenty on his side yet claims he might not even be an athlete today were it not for making the 2004 Athens Olympics at aged 22 – an achievement amongst many which he names as his greatest.

Regardless of how his season unfolds, Hooker has the ability to remain positive and focused on the future – evidently a calling of a true champion:

“My 2010’s been kind of up and down but the Continental Cup and Delhi were the two biggest comps of the year,” Hooker explained.

“In the middle, I had some difficult times - competitions not going to plan and that’s not something I’ve been used to in previous years so it was a different challenge but it’s good to come out and turn it around with some positive results. I’m just glad I finished the year on a positive note.”

For the man who is clearly accustomed to winning, one wonders how Hooker manages to not just deal with the constant pressure of being hot favourite but also to remain motivated to achieve even more:

“It’s good to know that I can perform on the big occasion,” Hooker revealed. “I look forward to the next cycle of events, and I’ve started that by defending my title in Delhi. It’s an exciting couple of years.

I’m looking forward to the preparation for the two major championships in Daegu (2011 World’s) and London (2012 Olympics) and I hope to get that right to use my past experience to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.”

With his immense amount of experience in success – and now a little in disappointment – Hooker should be set to continue his domination and reach loftier heights still.

Sal-vaging Gold


After enduring the most heartbreaking experience of her career, Australia’s Sally Pearson bounced back three days later to claim Commonwealth 100m hurdles glory in scintillating and emotional style earlier this week, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 24-year-old’s world-class 12.67 winning time was an extra-sweet achievement for the Sydney-born athlete, as it provided the ultimate redemption following her disqualification in the 100m final in the most insensitive of manners.

Having crossed the finish-line in first place, the Olympic silver-medallist was only told of her barring after celebrating her lap of honour and as she prepared to collect her gold medal.

The Australian and Oceanian record-holder’s result was protested by the English team – whose Katherine Endacott was eventually promoted to silver - following an apparent false-start alongside England’s Laura Turner, subsequently breaking the Australian’s heart.

Pearson – whose mother is from Kent and lives in the South of England – explained at the time:

"I'm just numb right now, I don't really know what I feel. I'm obviously devastated and disappointed. I was told I was in the clear. I was told all sorts of different stories.

I was never once told the truth or told what was going on. I don't think that was fair. This is our careers. To have run the race, do the victory lap and told everything's OK, then told you can't have the medal... I have to deal with it."

Deal with it she did and in phenomenal style, too, storming to one of the performances of the championship in Delhi to collect her first Commonwealth gold at the third time of trying – the first being in Melbourne 2006 where she tripped over a hurdle and finished last in the final.

After scorching away from the field in dominant and determined fashion, the 5ft5 sprinter fell to her knees sobbing with relief, as the emotion poured out after realising what she had achieved amidst such adversity during her time in India.

Speaking afterwards, Pearson revealed: "It's my first real title and it won't get taken away from me.

It's the most amazing feeling. I vowed to try my hardest, stay focused on what I had to do and I had the race of my life. I just went for it. I didn't hold back.

It's been the hardest week of my life really, I don't know how I was able to overcome the 100m disappointment but I just thought I had to block it out of my mind. As soon as I crossed the finish line in the hurdles it all just came welling up again, it all came out, but it was good, I came here to win the hurdles and I did."

Further proving what a fighter she really is and attracting much praise from her team-mates, coach and indeed her country, Pearson returned to the track the following day to help the Australian 4x400m relay squad finish fifth.

Running a commendable 52.6 split, Pearson again ran her heart out despite having only ever trained for the 100m distance and in the wake of her blistering effort, required a full twenty-minutes to recover on the track before being carried away.


Such nerves of steel and a gutsy week of performances sum up Pearson perfectly. After making her international debut at 16 with gold at the World Youth championships in Canada in 2002, she went onto represent her nation in the 4x100m relay at the 2003 World championships in Paris and took World junior bronze over 100m the following season.

Four years later and now an established senior athlete, Pearson’s breakthrough came in the Beijing Olympics where she placed runner-up over the hurdles in 12.64, before finishing fifth in the World championships in Berlin last year after suffering from ongoing back issues.

“My back was spasming a lot before Berlin last year so I was out for eight months with a muscle tear,” Pearson revealed.

“It was getting worse all the time, it kept coming back during training so it was an up and down season for me last year but I eventually got back after doing everything I could with physiotherapy.”

In a year in which she got married, 2010 has seen promising times for the Queensland-based runner. Having been coached by Sharon Hannon since aged 13, Pearson registered her 12.50 life-time best in July which ignited a memorable season:

“I’m pretty excited by how the year’s gone,” Pearson explained.

“I’ve been taking it one race at a time, trying not to get too excited until the season ended. Stockholm was the turning point this year – I hadn’t run 12.5 for over a year so it told me where I was fitness-wise, it was really exciting to start the season off so well and to also be consistent throughout the season more than anything.
Winning the Continental Cup (in Split last month) was great and of course, Delhi.”


Sharing her time between the Gold Coast and Cologne (in the European summer), Pearson also enjoys switching her attention between her “pet event”, the 100m hurdles and the 100m flat – an event in which she boasts an impressive 11.14 best.

However, having focused on the sprint hurdles for the past three seasons, Pearson insists on remaining loyal to the discipline in which she has achieved the most success:

“I won’t do the double in 2012 due to scheduling clashes and my ongoing back problems,” she explained.

“I'll definitely do (the 100m flat) in the Australian season but it showed in the hurdle heats (in Delhi) that I hurdled like a sprinter and I didn't keep my technique.

So probably not next year or the year after, simply because they're going to be the two biggest years of my life with the world championships and the Olympics - I just have to keep focused on my pet event internationally and do the best that I can."

Should Pearson show the kind of focus she practised in Delhi to bounce back to gold, then global and Olympic glory should be just around the corner for this determined Aussie.

‘Fresh’ Tomlinson Raring to Go


After clinching European bronze earlier this summer, Chris Tomlinson will find himself as one of the favourites for a medal in this weekend’s Commonwealth long-jump final and the former British record-holder is determined to claim his second piece of championship silverware of 2010 in Delhi, writes Nicola Bamford.

The 28-year-old Newham and Essex Beagles athlete will contest the qualifying round on Friday and hopes to return to the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex the following day to feature highly in the final.

Having arrived in India two days ago from the UKA preparation camp in Doha, Tomlinson revealed:

“Training’s going ok. I’m feeling pretty strong and springy so hopefully my body will good when the time comes. I just want to get a medal, that’s the main aim.”

Sixth in the 2002 and 2006 Games, respectively, Tomlinson will be battling for gold against British record-holder Greg Rutherford in addition to World indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre and Chris Noffke of Australia.

Fifth in the 2004 Olympics and the World indoor silver-medallist two-years ago, Tomlinson continued:

“My event can be quite a loaded event - six of the eight finalists from Berlin are from the Commonwealth so it’s very competitive.

But I’m aware that people are dropping out each week. I won’t be sure who’s competing until the morning of qualification. Greg’s a great jumper and it would be great if we can both challenge for the medals.”

Guided by Frank Attoh at their Lee Valley base, Tomlinson captured his thirteenth national title with an 8.17m leap this season and registered a 10.74 100m lifetime best to prove his speed is still there for the run-way.

Although slightly short of his best 8.29m mark from 2007, the World championship eighth-placer scored some fine performances in 2010 with third place in the European team championships and in two IAAF Diamond League meetings, as well as collecting his continental medal in Spain.

Tomlinson, who even squeezed in the time for a 15.21m w triple jump for his club in August, offered his assessment:

“The season’s gone ok. Getting my first outdoor championship medal at the European’s against a competitive field was good but it would have been good to have got a PB over there.

After Barcelona, I wanted to ensure I was mentally fresh by the end of the season, I was aware of the situation so held back and didn’t put the focus on making money in lots of competitions like I’ve done in the past, I’d rather get a medal.”

Married to West End actress and former Miss Newcastle Lucia Rovardi, Tomlinson explained the reasons behind feeling fresh for his time at trackside:
“I’ve been doing a course on mortgages as I’m interested in property and I’ve just qualified as a personal-trainer.

I like to do things outside of the sport to keep myself fresh for when I’m at the track. I think not thinking about it constantly helps keep me as enthusiastic as I am.”