Thursday, 19 May 2011

Athletics Extravaganza!


Dominating runs from Helen Clitheroe and Haile Gebrselassie combined with scintillating sprints from Tyson Gay and Alyson Felix and a double victory from Andy Turner ensured the ‘Great Day of Sport’ in Manchester was not a literal washout
despite the poor weather, writes Nicola Bamford.

BUPA Great Manchester Run -

MEN 10KM –

Thommo earns praise from Geb, the victor yet again

By pushing the man who is unbeaten across the globe in a 10km road race since the 1994 season, Britain’s king of comebacks Chris Thompson earned glittering praise as the future of world 10,000m running from his conqueror on the day, distance-running legend Haile Gebrselassie – who in turn, captured his third-successive victory here with controlled ease.

Coping with his Ethiopian counterpart’s relentless pace almost all the way to the finish-line, Thompson propelled himself onto the international road-running radar following a superb start to his 2011 track campaign, whilst the winner took the tape in an impressive 28:10, enjoying an eleven-second winning margin to boot.

The 38-year-old World marathon record-holder – who now boasts four wins in Manchester – took the lead and was joined by Thompson on his shoulder from the onset as the first kilometre was covered in 2:45.

Fresh from an encouraging 60:18 half-marathon in Vienna, Gebrselassie continued to push the pace and the leading pack crossed the midway point in 14:17 as they turned into the second half of the course which was not plagued by the wind to the same degree as the first.

Going through the seven kilometre mark in 19:49, Gebrselassie surged on in determined fashion, looking every inch the champion he was before temporarily assuming ‘retired’ status last winter after an injury-ravaged ING New York marathon display where he withdrew before announcing his competitive comeback the following week.

Here, seemingly speeding along the final metres in the very same fashion that has seen him capture so many global titles on the track and road since the late nineties, the ‘Emperor’ glided to yet another glorious win and still found the time to praise the runner-up:

“Today was wonderful, the atmosphere was marvellous and I am happy despite the weather,” he said.

“I am very happy with the time and to win here again and I must say, he (Thompson) is a special runner – he will be there at the top in the World the way he is running and improving from his form in Europe - he pushed me hard and I was surprised.

“I am feeling in good shape and as always, I am enjoying my time here.”

Thompson meanwhile was happy with his morning’s work after finishing sixth in the 2010 event and the 30-year-old Aldershot runner – who arrived from his Oregon, USA base six days before the event- explained the confidence-boast he received from the race outcome:

“There were mind games at 8km so I tried to let him (Gebrselassie) know I was still in the race to win and I tried ride the pace for as long as I could from 5km,” revealed the European 10,000m silver-medallist.

“He gave me the odd look with a smile on his face as I kept trying not to grimace back – unfortunately, I wasn’t quite strong enough at the end but I’m chuffed to hear the nice things he’s saying about me and knows I exist.

“The whole experience has given me a lot of confidence for training and for the rest of the season and for the World’s (in Daegu this coming August) - It was tough today but I’m getting stronger.”

Guided by John Nuttall, Thompson was evidently riding on the crest of a wave before this top-class encounter after shooting to number-three all-time on the British all-time 10,000m list, courtesy of an eye-catching 27:27.36 in California recently and will undoubtedly be looking for no less than a top-eight finish in South Korea.

In third with 28:15, 35-year-old nine-time European cross-country champion Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine finished strongly in a well-judged race and exceeded expectations in beating Australia’s Craig Mottram (28:36) and Ireland’s Martin Fagain (28:39).

Mottram, the 30-year-old victor at the Bupa Great Yorkshire 10km over Thompson last September sped off after the race to compete in the Great Salford Swim to recreate his teenage years when he was a national-level triathlete, whilst the 27-year-old Fagan was pleased with his performance followed a winter of injury.

The prize of second Brit surprisingly went to Leeds City AC’s James Walsh, who was violently sick at the finish, such were his efforts. Running a time of 28:42, the 29-year-old finished sixth overall in his first race since placing 77th in the World cross-country Championships in March.

Shortly behind were Blackheath and Bromley’s Scott Overall in 28:49 in seventh, followed by Liverpool’s Jonny Mellor in eighth with 28:50.


Distance proves right choice for Clitheroe

Ten weeks after clinching the European indoor 3,000m crown, Preston’s Helen Clitheroe proved that an attempt to reinvent herself as a distance runner was the correct decision, after obliterating a strong international field in a superb 31:45 lifetime best.

Launching straight into the lead and showcasing impressive displays of gutsy front-running and even-pacing, the 37-year-old ran strongly with a comfortable place at the head of the field for the entire course before coming home ahead of France’s Christelle Daunay with a fourteen second advantage.

Having covered the kilometre splits in 3:12, 3:12, 3:11, 3:16 and 3:15 in the first half, the leading pack crossed halfway in 16:06 before Clitheroe decided to up the tempo and further stretch the field.

Clocking 3:09, 3:10, 3:09, 3:10 in the second half before unleashing a remarkable final 3:01 kilometre split, the John Nuttall-coached athlete – who returned from a month-long spell of altitude training with the UKA endurance camp in Font Romeu on Monday and won an international 4.25k road race in Switzerland five days before the event – sprinted home well clear to also break her 2008 32:15 personal best.

“I’m really happy and quite surprised as it was my first proper 10km race and it was really special here close to my home, and run such a good time in the tough conditions as well,” she explained.

“The support was absolutely brilliant with so many people calling my name which spurred me on and it helped in the last kilometre.

“I was really interested to see how fast I could run today and use it as a springboard for the track season so it’s hopefully a step in the right direction - I was unsure how I would feel today but it showed the training in Font Romeu worked.

“I wish Paula (Radcliffe, the World marathon record-holder who withdrew a fortnight before the event with a chest infection) was here but I did the best I could.

“Today makes me wonder why I didn’t start doing the longer distances in the past!

I’m really enjoying the training for it and today was brilliant - I’m absolutely thrilled and think I can go even quicker.”

Having now established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the distances, Clitheroe will look ahead to running well for Team GB in the European 10,000m challenge next month before taking a crack at the world’s best in Daegu.

Behind Daunay, the 36-year-old who was fourth in the recent Prague half-marathon, Kenya’s Grace Momanyi finished third in 32:05 after recently placing runner-up in the Glasgow 10km.

The 29-year-old Commonwealth 10,000m champion finished ahead of Portugal’s Sara Moreira (32:11), the 25-year-old European 5,000m bronze-medallist and Italy’s Anna Incerti (32:36), the 31-year-old European marathon silver-medallist, in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ethiopia’s 37-year-old former World 10,000m and half-marathon champion and two-time winner here, Berhane Adere finished closely behind in 33:07 before a collection of impressive British performances.

With European junior cross-country champion Charlotte Purdue a late withdrawal due to a knee injury, Bedford and County’s Katrina Wooton was another surprise package, with the 25-year-old – who was only fifth in the recent Trafford 10km – recording 33:15 in seventh place overall.

In eighth, Charnwood’s Hannah Whitmore, 27, clocked 33:38 ahead of recent Berlin hald-marathon third-placer Sonia Samuels (ninth, 33:43) and Laura Whittle (tenth, 33:48), respectively.


Taking his fifth title here, five-time London marathon winner David Weir of Surrey clocked 22:23 from his British compatriot Simon Lawson (25:24) in his usual dominating display.

The 31-year-old T54 athlete, coached by Jenny Archer explained afterwards:

“The wind was making me work hard on the way back so it was a tough experience.

“I’m racing a big race in Switzerland soon for the Olympic qualifying standard, rather than doing the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester.

“The Paralympics will be more interesting than the Olympics - I haven’t really started training for it yet with my team but I’m feeling good and today was good despite the conditions, I’m pretty pleased.”

Winner of the Bupa Great North 10km last summer, 28-year-old Lawson of the T53 class improved on his fourth-place position from the 2010 edition.


With serial race winner Shelley Woods missing in action, 22-year-old Nikki Emerson took over the British number-one spot for the day with an impressive four-minute winning margin.

Clocking 31:50 ahead of Collette Martin, the recent runner-up in the London mini
marathon, Emerson said afterwards:

“It was a really good race – I’m disappointed with the time but it went well.

“I slipped at the start and got my hand stuck in the wheel so I had to catch them up but from a couple of kilometres, I felt good.

I was really pleased to do the 10km as I’m training for sprint races and it was really nice to have the support from all of my group here.”

What with the winner being coached by Ian Thompson, the husband and coach to Dame

Tanni Grey-Thompson – who finished fourth after coming out of retirement to participate – and Ian himself placing eighth in the men’s race, it was a busy day for the training group indeed.

Grey-Thompson, the 41-year-old eleven-time Paralympic and nine-time World champion registered 39:29 before commenting:

“It was really good fun, amazing and a really good race but the first 5km was really hard into the wind and I won’t be racing too often.”


100m Women –

Jeanette Kwakye continued her return to form since Achilles and knee surgery in the 2009 season with a comfortable win in 11.60 from Anyika Onuora’s 11.65.

The 28-year-old 2008 World indoor 60m silver-medallist from Woodford Green with Essex Ladies stormed clear from the onset to finish clear of Liverpool’s Onuora, who herself is also returning from knee surgery from last summer.

Kwakye divulged afterwards:

“It was a good run but an exhibition really.

“It was an excellent crowd but my season really starts in Loughborough this weekend -I got back from the US this week and I’m in better shape that the time shows.

I want to get back into the world top-ten but after injury, I have to take it day by day but I’m looking forward to a challenge.”

100m Men –

Mark Lewis-Francis proved the doubters wrong as he successfully opened his 2011 outdoor campaign despite still suffering the effects of a torn adductor dating back to February during the indoor season.

The problem forced the 28-year-old European and Commonwealth 100m silver-medallist to withdraw from March’s European indoor championship but the Linford Christie-coached Birchfield Harrier was determined to defend his 100m title here and did so in dominating fashion.

Speeding to a useful 10.33 in rain-drenched and windy conditions, Lewis-Francis finished ahead of Gateshead’s Richard Kilty, 21 who ran 10.51 from Shaftesbury’s Nick Smith (10.52).

The victor explained afterwards:

“I’m nowhere near 100% and I could feel my groin in the warm-up so this weather was a real big test for me and I was on the verge of pulling out but I soldiered on.

My start was terrible and I’ve missed out on five weeks of training so I’m playing catch up now but 10.33 in freezing conditions is good and I can build on that.

I was given twelve weeks to get back jogging but after working hard in LA, I’m back ahead of schedule which is amazing but I have to play it safe – hopefully it’s behind me and I need to get it stronger now.”

Still uncertain whether to contest the 200m at the Loughborough international this weekend, he continued:

“I don’t want to not make the team for Daegu by resting too much so I have to be careful.”

110m Hurdles Men –

European and Commonwealth champion Andy Turner kicked his day’s action off with a solid 13.41 winning start, ahead of the USA’s Dominic Berger (13.49).

The 30-year-old Sale Harrier ran 13.28 in Jamaica recently but coped admirably in the challenging conditions.

“Training’s been going well and I’m lifting heavier in the gym, as well as using some technical help with a biomechanics expert,” the Lloyd Cowan-coached athlete revealed.

“I’ve obviously got a long way to go to beat Xiang, Oliver and Robles but I’m happy where I’m at and I look forward to racing them, as I’ve won all my races so far and need them to bring out the best in me.

“It was tough conditions and the wind pushed me into the hurdles so I made mistakes but I was happy to win.”

Turner will next race in Hengelo and will also take away the confidence from easily beating two-time former World indoor champion Terrence Trammell, who finished third in 13.51 here.

100m Hurdles Women –

American Danielle Carruthers upset the local hopes by convincingly beating Britain’s golden girl Jessica Ennis into third, with a dominant 12.73 performance.

The 31-year-old world number-eight last year was a fine runner-up in the opening Diamond League leg in Doha recently and always looked certain of retaining her title from last year’s event.

Ennis meanwhile, was pushed into third by another American, Ginne Crawford, 27 – the wife of 2004 Olympic 200m champion Shawn – who ran 12.87 to Ennis’ 12.88.

The 25-year-old Sheffield athlete’s time was impressive, considering her 12.81 lifetime best, though and the World and European heptathlon champion additionally enjoyed the scalp of hurdles specialist Tiffany Ofili, Team GB’s new recruit from the States, who here ran 12.88 and the 23-year-old European indoor silver-medallist has a best of 12.73 to look ahead to beating.

The red hot favourite for Olympic heptathlon gold in London next year said:

“I was pleased with my first race. The weather’s been horrendous but the crowd’s been great in supporting us really well. It was a really strong field and I hope to improve my time later in the season.”

200m Men –

France’s European 100m and 200m bronze-medallist Martial Mbanjock followed the form book by enjoying a comfortable victory in 20.35 to Kim Collins’ 20.43.

The 25-year-old trailed his 35-year-old Saint Kitts and Nevis rival at the midway point (10.37 to Collins’ 10.27) but finished strongly to defeat the 2003 World 100m champion.

America’s Shawn Crawford, meanwhile recorded 20.68, following his 2010 150m victory here.

Guided by 2000 Olympic 100m champion Maurice Green of the USA, Mbanjock explained:

“It was very long, it was my first time doing a straight 200m and I couldn’t simulate it in training but I enjoyed it.

I’m most happy by who I beat than the time but with the weather, coming from the weather in LA, I can be happy.

I want to make the World final and it’s a long season so I’ll take my time and keep working hard.”

200m Women –

Three-time World 200m champion Alyson Felix lived up to her ‘clear favourite’ billing by destroying the field in a classy 22.12 from France’s Myriam Soumare (23.35).

The 25-year-old American sped through the 100m mark in a swift 11.26 before storming home well clear of the European champion.

Woodford Green with Essex Ladies’ 37-year-old Joice Maduaka clocked 23.67 to surpsingly finish ahead of Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu, who struggled home in 24.48.

The 27-year-old from London had recently enjoyed a training stint in Jamaica with sprint sensation Usain Bolt’s group but is evidently still struggling with the torn quad she barely managed with last season.

The winner said afterwards:

“I felt good and felt like I had a good run - it was a little windy but I was happy to get my legs moving and enjoyed it.

“The conditions were tough but the Olympics are going to be in London so you never know, it could be like this again, you have to be ready,” explained the Olympic silver-medallist, who will next contest the 200m and 400m in Rome.

“It’s a long season so I’m taking my time by easing into the season in order to get my 200m world title. This is a great way to build the sport’s profile.”

Ohuruogu – who next races in Ostrava over 400m, revealed:

“I’m not really happy with that but we can run and go inside to get warm, unlike the
supporters out there, who are incredible.

“My quad is tight but it’s alright - the 400m is a lot less impact so I’m going to rest a little and get a base in for them.

“This is an amazing event which keeps growing and is free to the general public, which is great so thanks for their support, especially in the pouring rain, which I really appreciate – it’s important to raise the profile in the countdown to 2012.”

200m Hurdles Men –

Andy Turner continued his impressive day’s work by taking his second victory of the afternoon in winning the 200m hurdles in equally-impressive style.

The victor from the 2010 event in 22.30, Turner passed halfway in 11.03 then went onto record 22.10 this time around from last year’s 400m hurdles number-one Bershawn Jackson of the USA, who clocked 22.26.

America’s two-time Olympic long-hurdles champion Angelo Taylor registered 22.84 for third place.

Turner said:

“I never train for it and if I had longer in between, I could have run faster.

“My technique’s getting better and I feel I have a better time in me given the right race.

“I train to race and love the adrenaline. I love the 200m hurdles, 110’s the business and 200m’s the pleasure – I’d love it to be an Olympic event, I’d give up the 110 then – it makes it more interesting.”

150m Women –

Commonwealth 200m runner-up Abi Oyepitan continued her return to form following years of an Achilles nightmare to take the 150m in 17.34 from Jessica Ennis (17.40).

The 31-year-old Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier was in last place for the first 50m before storming clear ahead of Ennis and Harrow’s 28-year-old Laura Turner - who won this event last year - in third (17.43).

Oyepitan explained:

“I wasn’t too happy with the time and I had the worst start ever but was super strong at the end which bodes well for the rest of the season.

I’ll next race in Loughborough but due to my past injury problems, I don’t tend to plan ahead anymore so I’m not looking at Deagu yet.”

Ennis meanwhile, expressed her thoughts on a busy afternoon’s work and will next target the javelin and one other event in Loughborough:

“I’m a bit disappointed with the 150m – I didn’t get a good start or drive out so I was chasing the whole way.

“It was a shame about the conditions but a really good day.

I’ve got some good running in my legs and came away with no pain. It was a test to see what kind of shape I’m in after having a few weeks off running.”

150m Men –

World 100m and 200m champion Tyson Gay succeeded in retaining his title but fell short of eclipsing Usain Bolt’s 14.35 world-best from the 2009 event.

The 28-year-old American scorched to a scintillating 14.51 to finish well clear of his compatriot Darvis Patton (14.98) and Coventry’s Marlon Devonish (15.10).

Carrying a hip injury which is requiring constant medical attention, Gay could not quite match the 19.41 he recorded in last year’s event but he declared himself content with his efforts nevertheless:

“I was a bit sore but felt pretty good - I came through 100m in 9.91 so I’m where everyone else in the world is right now.

“It was nice to feel comfortable and not feel the pressure here - I wish I could have done the first 100m a bit faster but I’m satisfied,” said the world’s second-fastest ever, who will next compete in New York.

“The crowd was great and I can’t wait to do it again.

“I pushed my body as far as it wanted to go today, I’ll see a doctor after my MRI this week to get a second opinion and I just want to stay healthy – I’m looking forward to the trials and the World’s.”

Patton, the 37-year-old World 200m eighth-placer, was content with his performance, as was the 34-year-old Devonish – who incidentally, is the UK 150m record-holder courtesy of his 14.88 clocking last year.

No comments: