Aviva GP/Birmingham: Mo Farah Entertains Fans, Crowd Sees 2 World Leaders and 2 British records, by Larry Eder

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The AVIVA meetings in the UK have kept athletics fans in the UK entertained with competitive events, star power and world and British leading marks. As the time comes nearer for the European Indoors in Torino, Italy, British athletes performed well and showed that they must be considered in the medal predictions.

(Mo Farah, shown during the Carlsbad 5k this past April, photo courtesy of PhotoRun.net).

While there were two British records, and two world leaders, the AVIVA Grand Prix/Birmingham was the Mo Farah Show--and Mr. Farah entertained! Mo Farah, after training stints in Ethiopia and Kenya, and now, under the watchful eye of UK endurance manager Ian Stewart, has set three UK records in the past month at 3,000 meters. This evening performance was his race showed a level of racing maturity that Mr. Farah had not shown in the past. Running his 1,500 meter segments in 3:45 and 3:49, taking the lead with two laps to go, and extending his lead on Shadrick Korir, with Farah getting the win in 7:34.17, another PB, and another British record!

After his race, Mo commented to the assembled media: “2008 was a bit of a disappointment, so I wanted to come out hard in 2009 and I did that with two British records in the space of a month. I’ve been training really hard and I’m really pleased with the way things went. It was a good race today, I really enjoyed it. It’s my last race now until Turin.”

This has been Farah's month: first, a 3,000 meter British record January 31 of 7:40.99 in Glasgow, Scotland. Then, on February 14, a fine 7:35.95 for 3,000 meters, and then, today, 7:34.47 personal best and British record. Seems like that quiet, focused training is paying off!

After Korir in second, Brit Nick McCormick ran a pb for third in 7:50.50. McCormick will be joining Farah in Turin for the European Indoor Champs. (McCormick is a 5,000 meter specialist from Morpeth Harriers--I remember meeting him at AVIVA GP London in 06).

Lo Lo Jones, the 2008 World Indoor Champion, tied her world leading 7.82 over the 60 meter hurdles with a very clean run in the NAI this afternoon! Jones was entered in the womens 60 meters ( pulling a Gail Devers?), but declined to race the flat race.

(Lo Lo Jones winning US Olympic Trials in July 2008, photo by Photorun.net).

The 60 m women's race was won by Carmelita Jeter, who, after flight conflicts, arrived in Birmingham, got three hours sleep and screamed a 7.11, to take the world lead! Carmelita is one of the US' most promising sprinters and tends to run best when the stress level is very high. She proved that in Birmingham!

On the men's side, Simeon Williamson won the men's 60 meter sin 6.53, a over Daniel Bailey of Antigua, who ran 6.54. Williamson is just back from a training stint with Asafa Powell and a UK athletics training camp. The fans in Birmingham love their home country winners, and Williamson was quite happy with his peformance. He had this to say to the assembled media: " ”Two personal bests and a victory, you could say it has been a good day. I haven’t done much speed work and I think last week (Aviva European Trials & UK Championships, Sheffield) was just a bit too early. But I knew I had to get it right today because I needed to book my ticket to Turin.”

Beijing and Osaka gold medalist at 400 meters, Christine Ohuruogu received a thunderous applause on her come from behind win over 200 meters, defeating UK champion Donna Fraser in 23.42.

In the women's pole vault, Yelena Isinbayeva, fresh off two new world records, 4.96 and 5.00, just did not have it this evening. Clearing 4.82m took the competition, but here attempts at 5.01 m were just not there. Her first was the best, and she came down hard on the cross bar.

In third place in the pole vault, Kate Dennison moved the British pole vault record up to 4.55m, insisting that 4.60m is not that far away, with three close attempts at 4.60m. This is the second British record for Dennison in so many weekends, having cleared 4.45m last weekend. For her efforts, she joined Mo Farah in collecting a nice check for $5,000 US for the new British record!

Bernard Lagat had one of his rare losses on the boards, this time, to Augustine Choge in 3:38.52. Choge took the win, Lagat caught Nick Spaight near the finish with Rui Silva, European 1,500 indoor defending champion, charging by Spaight with inches to go!

In the women's 3,000 meters, Vivian Cheriuyot of Kenya set a Kenyan record for 3,000 meters indoors with her 8:30.53 in a convincing win.

For more on the Aviva GP/Birmingham, please check out
www.iaaf.org

For more on the Aviva GP/Birmingham, here is a nice piece from
uk athletics:http://www.uka.org.uk/media/news/february-2009/21-02-09-aviva-gp/

Special thanks to BBC and IAAF for their extensive coverage of the Aviva GP/Birmingham Meet!

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