Stuart Weir’s second column on the Birmingham Diamond League meeting is about timing. The European athletes were just one week out of the Berlin Championships, and the emotional, physical and psychological limits that they challenged last week meant that they were not recovered. It is amazing to me on how fine the performances were in Birmingham.
Here’s Stuart Weir’s comments:
Timing is all important
The trouble with a home Diamond League the week after a Championship is that the British medal winners want to put on a show for the crowd but often find it hard to reproduce their best after all that has gone before. There is also the exhaustion factor – emotional as well as physical. This week, for example, Dina Asher-Smith had to deal with over 40 media appearances following her 3 gold medals in Berlin.
Dina came second in the 200 meters in 22.31 – compared 21.89 last week – which was absolutely fine in the circumstances. Marie Josee Ta Lou, Ivory Coast, who has been so dominant this year could only finish sixth. But there again, she is just back from the African championships.
It was interesting that in their post race comments, Dina and Dafne Schippers both commented on the aftermath of Berlin, and in Dina’s case, the pressure of the home crowd. Asher-Smith: “I’m tired, but I am happy I was able to come out and perform in such a stacked field, full of girls who, apart from me and Dafne, have been resting up. It is really nice to perform well in their company and in front of a home crowd. It’s been a hectic week since Berlin, so I am just looking forward to relaxing at home for a week or so before the next race in Zurich”.
Schippers: “I am happy but so tired after the Europeans, but I’m happy with third. It’s a really good field and I have no complaints. Mostly between now and the Diamond League finals it will be about relaxing with a little training as well”.
In the women’s long-jump, Shara Proctor, jumped 6.70 for third place but admitted afterwards: “I feel like I have a hangover to be honest! I came out here and gave it my all and I am happy with the result. My legs are really dead which is understandable coming off a champs”.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson was seventh in the long-jump with 6.41 but it is remarkable that she is capable of putting one leg past the other after her herculean efforts in the heptathlon last week. All credit therefore to Malaika Mihambo (Germany), who followed her European Championship win with a 6.96 in Birmingham
Charlie Da’Vall Grice, seventh in the mile, echoed Proctor’s sentiments, “It has been a long season and obviously after the Europeans last week I think everyone is feeling a bit flat which has to be expected”.
Holly Bradshaw came fifth in a bizarre pole-vault competition in which only 8 of the 37 vaults attempted were successful, due in some measure to the strong head wind plus the time of day. Winner, Sandi Morris, said: “We had really strong winds which were difficult to deal with but I’m happy I walked away injury free. I’m fortunate I could put some heights together”.
Katerina Stefanidi (second) said: “It was difficult conditions today but what bothered me most was having to get up early. At the European Champs we were competing at 8 or 9pm and today it was 1pm and I’m not normally up by then”.
Holly Bradshaw explained more the issues the athletes were facing: “I thought it was a bit of a shambles to come fifth in 4.40m. It was a massive headwind and all the girls struggled. Four of us cleared 4.40m when we’re all capable of clearing 4.70m to 4.80m, even Sandi went out at 4.62m. A wind like that makes a difference in the pole vault because there’s so many other factors to consider. Leading into the Europeans I had done 4.72m, 4.75m and 4.80m so I knew my vaulting was the best it’s ever been”.
All this shows that the timing of an event can make such a difference.