After the Lord Mayor's show...Stuart Weir writes on Birmingham DL


Stuart Weir is now home, for one of the few times this summer. This is his second piece on the Birmingham DL, and soon, we will join up in Zurich to cover that event for @runblogrun. I like Stuart's approach on the Birmingham DL, the last event before the Diamond League championships, with an old British proverb.

After the Lord Mayor's show

Recently there was a poll on Twitter asking if the World Championships should be the last event of the year - so that it was the climax of the year. An interesting question. The reality is that in 2017 three Diamond League events take place after the World Championships.

The Mὕller Grand Prix, as the Birmingham Diamond League likes to call itself, came just 7 days after the end of the World Championships. It had the potential to be like the early afternoon session in the conference when everyone is falling asleep. The title, of course, comes from the old proverb, "After the Lord Mayor's show comes the dust-cart".

Overall, I thought Birmingham put together a great program with a large and enthusiastic crowd and I was on my way home by the time the dust-cart appeared. Top of the bill was Mo Farah's last race on the track in England on a Sunday - not to be confused with his last race in England in a World Championship (last week) nor with his last ever (probably) race on a track (this week in Zὕrich). Anyhow when you have won as many races that matter as Mo has, I will not begrudge him a finale or two.

The stand-out performance was by Mutaz Essa Barshim who cleared 2.40 in the high-jump and ran off with the bar, which he had just cleared! In the mixed zone he was still adamant that he was taking the bar home to Qatar - and had instructed his agent to arrange. I wonder if British Athletics will sent him a bill for it! I also find myself wondering what you do with a high jump bar once you have got it home.

Allyson Felix spoke for many when she said after second place in the 400: "Everyone is tired from London but I came and gave it my best effort". World Champion, Phyllis Francis, was fourth in the same race but it is the result in the World Championships not this Diamond League which will define her season.

On the other hand, for some athletes it was seen as an opportunity to make amends. Elaine Thompson, fifth in London won the 100 meters in Birmingham in10.92 saying: "I had to bounce back first time after a disappointing World Championships". In similar vein, Aries Merritt won the 110 hurdles in 13.29, commenting afterwards: "It is always good to come out and beat two medallists from the world championships".

The event organizers took the opportunity to showcase disability athletics by including 3 disability sprints, reinforcing the view that para-athletes are elite performers in their own right who deserve to perform in front of a big crowd. Jonnie Peacock, who won the T44 100 metres, expressed his appreciation saying: "Today was the first time my event has been included in the IAAF Diamond League in four years so it meant a lot to me". As usual the Birmingham program started with a series of kids relays with local clubs competing for prize money for their clubs

There were two unusual events. One was "Walk v Run" with elite walker, Tom Bosworth, walking 1000 meters and Adam Clark running 1400 meters to see who finished first. Bosworth did by 0.71seconds. What the race showed was how ridiculously fast Bosworth walks. There were three men and three women Hammer throwers but the event was combined. What is more one of each gender was from Britain, Germany and Poland allowing it to be run as a mixed team event with Poland (Pawel Fajdek and Joanna Fiodorow) winning.

The only disappointment was the lack of an appearance by Hero the Hedgehog, whom we all came to love in London. It is so cold in England at the moment that I suppose he might have decided to hibernate early.

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