The London DL is a wonderful event. The anniversary Games were a reminder of my seventh Summer Olympics, the best, in London 2012. My son, my brother and my pretend sons were all with me. A glorious celebration of our sport.
Your athletic pilgrim is getting tired. One more meet, perhaps Stockholm, before I head home to see my son, my parents and my son’s dog, Hachi. My friends at the Willow Glen Starbucks will make us iced Cafe Americanos as Adam and I walk our two hours each day, solving problems real and imagined.
I must say that one of my highlights was Georgeanne Moline’s gutty second place in the 400 meter hurdles. She took on Zusana Hejnova, and made Hejnova work for it. Getting past that ninth hurdle, Moline has some real talent, I believe we will see her challenge 53.00.
Georgeanne Moline, photo by PhotoRun.net
Here is my piece on day one of the London Diamond League.
I hope you enjoy!
London Diamond League
July 24, 2015
Greetings from one of my favorite stadiums!
In a wonderful crowd of 45,000 plus, the London Olympic stadium hosted a
wonderful event, the first day of track and field here since 2013!
In the earlier press conference, Seb Coe defended his demand that this
stadium stay multi-use, and he was right.
The Olympic stadium is not set up for 54,000 or so for athletics events
and football (soccer) as well.
A rainy night early on, so much that the discus was halted for a bit, and the
men’s pole vault was moved until the next night!
The key to a great track meet is telling stories and putting together fine
competitions with good fields.
Where do we start?
Well, the 4 x 100 meter relays are a good start!
The US team did a nice job, with Sonya Richards-Ross running anchor with a 42.34. Not a bad time. The most impressive leg, however was Dafne Schippers and her Netherlands team took second and they were fabulous! The young British team, with Dina Asher-Smith, Jodie Williams and team ran okay, a bit ragged on the hand offs, but they got it around. Kudos to SRR for getting the anchor and doing the job.
Natasha Hastings, photo by PhotoRun.net
In the women’s 400 meters, Natasha Hastings had a job to do out there, and she did it, winning in 50.25. Hastings is a remarkable athlete, and when she is on, she is truly on.
The men’s pole vault, which was to be held during the worst of the rain, was moved until Saturday. Smart move, as the athletes were allowed to pick and move the event. It was way too dangerous to vault in that weather.
Mutaz Barshim, having some issues, photo by PhotoRun.net
The high jump for men was a crowd pleaser. Robert Fassinotti had four attempts and four clearances, in absolutely terrible conditions. Mark my word, this jumper has medal surprise written all over him. Barshim looked like a shadow of himself. His steps were off, and as one keen observer noted, ” Barshim was taking off from another postal code”. What was that about?
We understand that Mr. Bondarenko is dealing with a sore foot, which happened at the European Club Championships. We wish him a speedy recovery.
I am amazed how few coaches and athletes are considering just how trying the conditions will be in Beijing. It is going to be hot, humid and that will play into all of the events. A warning now….
Zharnel Hughes is a HUGE talent, photo by PhotoRun.net
Athlete who is truly impressing me is Zharnel Hughes. I watched Zharnel in Lausanne, and was quite impressed with his win there over 200 meters. In this 200 meters, Zharnel Hughes looked smooth coming off the turn, and took out the field with a very mature move over the last 20 meters. Hughes is a true medal contender. I had forgot that he is coached by Coach Glenn Mills. Hughes looks like a 800 meter runner.Think former 800m WR holder, footballer, Marcello Fiascanaro.
Jasmin Stowers, photo by PhotoRun.net
The women’s 100m hurdles continues to be the most competitive event, for women on the track circuit. Jasmin Stowers is looking fantastic-her hurdling was crisp, her
timing was on, and her focus was very good as she battled some of the finest hurdlers in the world. Nice to see Jessie Ennis Hill getting her timing back, and a nice hurdle race, in fifth in 12.69. LoLo Jones was not having a good day in the office today.
Laura Weightman holds off Gabby Grunewald, Katie Mackey, photo by PhotoRun.net
For British women, Laura Weightman, was quite impressive. The pace was decent: 63.9 and 2:12.56. Laura, who is coached by Steve Cram, took the lead with just over a lap to go and would not relinquish it. The Euro and CG Game medalist from 2014 began her run to Beijing with a difficult run over that last 500 meters, Gabby Grunewald, with Katey Mackey on her shoulder battled Weightman, but Laura persevered, and won the race in a tactical 4:06.
Jason Richardson has the fire back, photo by PhotoRun.net
The men’s 110 meter hurdles was a case of the level of competition in the 110m event. In the first semi, Orlando Ortega won, with Aries Merritt in third.
The second semi had Jason Richardson, Pascal Martinot Lagarde and David Omoregie. The young Briton scored a PB in 13.50!
Aries Merrit, on the road to Beijing, photo by PhotoRun.net
Richardson,the 2011 WC, looked better had he has in a year. His timing was on, his second half of the race poised and it looks like Jason is rounding into shape. Pascal Martinot Lagarde took second in 13.22, as Jason Richardson ran a strong second half, winning in 13.19. Aries Merritt was hitting hurdles today and just had a rough one, taking fourth in 13.32 and Ronnie Ash was third in 13.26.
(David Oliver? Oh, he was in Pan Am Games, taking gold in 13.07. )
The 100 meters for men was a fine event. Usain Bolt ran 9.87 meters twice in one evening. In the final, Mike Rodgers and Kemar Bailey-Cole the Commonwealth Champ from last year, made it hard for Usain, but he put his head down and worked for it.
Bailey-Cole, Rodgers, Bolt, the battle for the 100meters, photo by PhotoRun.net
The 100 meters in Beijing? I think it will be Bolt, Rodgers, Gatlin, Gay and Vicaut. Not sure the order.
The final event of the night was the 3000 meters. The race was being described as a chance to break David Moorcrofts British record of 7:32.68, from 1982. There was NO way that was going to happen. In truth, I was amazed just how fast the race was!
Mo Farah is focused, photo by PhotoRun.net
The pace was good, but 1000m in 2:32.48 was not going to do it. The second kilometer was run in 2:35, hit in 5:07.75.
This race is about positioning Mo Farah right for Beijing. It is how races have been run for Mo for the past four to five years. A good field, but mind you, Mo Farah had a job to do tonight. He had probably run pretty hard this week and was to run the last1000 meters fast.
When Emmanuel Kipsang challenged him during the last 1000 meters, Mo Farah had to use another gear, at 500 meters and with the last 200 meters, ran a 25 second furlong to win the race.
The fans? They are still here are here and all about seeing the British stars. None bigger than Mo Farah Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis-Hill.
The truth is this: the BBC broadcast on Mo Farah and Allan Wells was poorly done. After three years of trying to find something, they used rumors and no proof. But, it made a living hell for Farah and probably cemented th
e fact that his feelings on the British media are pretty fixed. The British media have given Mo a hard time since 2011, when he moved to the US. His inability to work with BBC on Sports Personality of Year videos and the like have made him an open target.
It is unfortunate. Mo Farah will go on to be the greatest British distance runner of his or any other time. He is a unique individual with unique racing talents.
As for Usain Bolt-he is the sprinter of his generation. He is also warm, funny and easy for sports fans to like and digest. His sprinting is world class, his racing is world class, and I am not sure that changes if he gets beat, especially by any athlete who has had a drug ban.
For Friday night, the heroes were many, but Mo Farah and Usain Bolt gave the fans, on a cold and rainy night, to just a cold and windy night, a wonderful first night back in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Mo Farah, enjoying the fruits of victory, photo by PhotoRun.net