This is the third piece on Day 1 by Stuart Weir on Day 1. It is on the British athletes on the first day.
Brits in action Day 1
Laviai Nielsen was officially “Brit of the day”, chosen by the BBC for the British performance of the day, running a PR (50.83) for third place in the 400 meters, a race she led until the final stage. Shericka Jackson and Stephenie Ann McPherson – both Jamaica – were first and second. Nielsen was also the first British woman to go under 51 seconds since 2015.
Nielsen, who lives a few miles from the London stadium, said afterwards: “I’m absolutely over the moon*. It’s a time I knew I could do, but it was just a matter of getting the competitions in and being competitive. And to do it here of all places – I’m not joking when I say this is my favourite place to run.
It’s really something special to me. Every time I’m here, the crowd just gives me goosebumps and I get a lift I just can’t describe. I just want to race here all the time”.
The absence of Faith Kipyegon, reigning world and Olympic champion, through injury made Laura Muir’s job of winning the 1500m a bit easier. She always seemed in control of the race finishing in 3:58.25 ahead of Kenya’s Winny Chebet, commenting: “It may have looked easy, but it wasn’t! I didn’t realise I ran a 57-second last lap and I’m so so happy about that. The girls are really strong and I know that my advantage is in that kick, so I just sat in there and tried to take it easy. It was all about winning today and I did that”. Sarah McDonald (4:00.46) was sixth and Muir’s training partner, Jemma Reekie (4:02.09) seventh, both PRs.
Andrew Butchart also ran a PR (13:06.21) for fifth place in the 5000m. As he acknowledged, it was a great step forward: “Today was massive and it was great to run here. I am exactly where I want to be. It is incredible to run that time and it is a big confidence boost and I think I can go faster and break 13 minutes”. The winner was Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia (13:01.85) with Jakob Ingebrigtsen second with a national Norwegian record.
Beth Dobbin ran a PR (22.50) in the 200m behind Elaine Thompson (22.13) and Marie Josee Ta Lou. Dobbin has made enormous strides over the past season and a half. She recalled how last year she had been invited to run in the London Diamond League but had to decline as he was on able to get the day off from her day job. The Scottish 200 meter record had stood for 34 years until Dobbin broke it last year. This week was the fifth time she has set a new Scottish record! She commented: “I’m over the moon* with that. This time last year I missed the Anniversary Games because I had a shift at work, so to now be a full-time athlete, racing against Olympic champions, it’s just a dream come true. I was racing against my idols so I am absolutely buzzing. When you are racing girls of that class you kind of get scared that you are going to mess up, but you just have to be on your A game and I think when you race against girls like that it really brings the best out of you”. When to talk to Beth you cannot hep enjoying her modest enjoyment of her achievements, earned through so much hard work.
In the men’s 800m Jamie Webb ran a PR (1:44.52) for sixth place and Kyle Langford (1:44.97) also had a PR in ninth. Ferguson Rotich it was the winner (1:43.14), with Kenya taking three of the top four places. Holly Bradshaw produced another solid performance of 4:65 for third place in the women’s pole vault.
One major disappointment was Cindy Ofili’s 13.24 for sixth place in 100m hurdles heat. It is proving to be a long road back for Ofili who finished fourth in the 2016 Olympic final before suffering a career threatening injury in the early 2017.
*”over the moon” is a quaint expression loved by British athletes, in particular soccer player, meaning “I am very happy”. It is particularly appropriate when used 50 years from the moon landings.