This is Stuart’s first column on the Muller GP Birmingham.
The Muller Grand Prix (IAAF Diamond League) in the Alexander Stadium represented the end of an era. Next weekend’s British Championship will be the last event in the old stadium before its revamp for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The new permanent seating capacity will be 18,000 with 30,000 for the Commonwealth Games including temporary seating.
In one of the earliest races in today’s programme, Omar McLeod won a high quality but non diamond race. McLeod’s time was 13.21 with Freddie Crittenden second (13.31), Wenjun Xie from China (13.43) with 2019 US champion, Daniel Roberts, fourth in 13.48. GB’s 20 year-old Cameron Fillery ran a PR of 13.54.
McLeod, now based in Germany said: “It was pretty easy and felt good. I’m in a new environment with a new coach and I feel like I’m ready to go again. For Doha, I need to go there in the best possible shape and I need to go there as defending champion, ready to compete”
Akeem Bloomfield (Jamaica) followed his 400m win in the London Diamond League with a win in Birmingham, this time in 45.04 in a swirling wind. Bloomfield’s slightly enigmatic comments after the race were: “I got the win but that’s all I can take from that. The eight points puts me in the Diamond League final and that’s the big positive. Coming down the home straight I saw no one in my eyeline and I knew I had it. I don’t know how selection will go for the 400m but we will have to see what happens”
Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany won the Millicent Fawcett women’s mile, commemorating a selfless campaigner for votes for women in the 1890s. Her time was 4:21.11 a meeting stadium and German national record. British athletes Elish McColgan (4:24.71) and Jemma Reekie (4.27.00) ran PRs
In a high-quality women’s long jump competition, Nafi Thiam – favorite for the heptathlon in Doha won with 6.86, twice beating the Belgian national record. But her margin of victory was 1 centimetre from Ivana Spanovic and her main rival in Doha, Katerina Johnson-Thompson both on 6.85. KJT got 6.85 with her last jump, having fouled 3 of her first 4. Last week in Poland Abigail Irozuru jumped 6.75 (appearing to achieve the Doha qualifying standard) but wind assisted. Today she jumped a legal 6.75 and if there was a happier athlete in Birmingham, I did not meet her.
In the women’s steeplechase world record holder, Beatrice Chepkeoch, won in 9:05.55 and 4 Kenyans finished in the first five – no surprise in any of that.
Germany’s Tatjana Pinto won the women’s 100m (not a Diamond race) in 11.15 into a headwind. Rachel Miller, one of this column’s favorite athletes – remember how she took an 8 year materity break – ran a PR in 11.42 into a 0.9 wind.
YaimÃ© PÃ©rez won the women’s discus with Sandra Perkovic third. Perkovic gave one of the most honest responses to the competition saying: “I’m not that happy with the result … but my warm-up was so much better than the competition and for that I must apologise”.
There was an eye-watering women’s 200m, a great women’s sprint hurdles and an intriguing pole vault competition, which will be the subject of separate posts.