Not the Anniversary Games (a second meeting in Gateshead)...


Para400m .jpgPichardo Blango, Columbia, in the Para 400m, photo by Diamond League AG

IMG_0821.jpgThe Anniversary Games moved to Gateshead, photo by Stuart Weir

IMG_0822.jpgGateshead DL Meeting 2, photo by Stuart Weir

This is the first article on Gateshead. More to come on Wednesday!

Not the Anniversary Games.

The Wanda Diamond League Gateshead/London as the website calls it, also known as the Müller British Grand Prix, took place in the Gateshead International Stadium. This is Gateshead's second 2021 Diamond League having hosted the Rabat event at short notice in May. The three-and-a-half-hour program consisted of 24 events. In addition to the 2-hour international feed, there was a 30-minute pre-program for British TV and a pre-pre-program of an hour for the early comers in the stadium.

The first three events were mixed-class para-athletics races. There are issues with mixed-class events as we have documented previously. The positive is that it gave 22 Para-athletes a chance to compete on a big stage as part of a Diamond League program.

The timing of the event - 10 days before the opening ceremony of the Olympics - meant that the field was much weaker than for a normal Anniversary Game. The flip side is that the program included over 60 British athletes, some of whom would not have been included in a normal year.

Kate grace mile.jpgKate Grace, winner, women's mile, photo by Diamond League AG

The program included the Emsley Carr Mile, which has been held since 1953. Previous winners sound like a Hall of Fame of world middle-distance runners - Kip Keino, Jim Ryun, Haile Gebrselassie, Hicham El Guerrouj, Bernard Lagat, Seb Coe, John Walker, Steve Ovett, Said Aouita, Filbert Bayi etc. Sadly with a weakened 2021 field, the race was scheduled before the international feed. The 2021 winner was Elliot Giles, who will run in the 800m in Tokyo, in a PR of 3:52.49. There was also a woman's mile won by Kate Grace.

Martyn Rooney ran his last ever race. An Olympic medallist in 2008, twice European individual Champion, three times a World Championship medallist, at the age of 34 he has decided to call it a day. He was seventh in 47.74. I will always remember the 2014 European Championship gold and his anchor leg to seven major 4 by 400 medals.

Sandi Morris PV .jpgSandi Morris won the PV with a 4.76m clearance, photo by Diamond League AG

Sandi Morris - finally happily re-united with her poles - won the pole vault with 4.76. Johannes Vetter threw his javelin 85.25 meters. Pedro Pichardo triple-jumped 17.50. There were two sprint relays, as teams practiced for the Games and a men's 3000m to finish. There were a number of excellent performances by British and international athletes which will be detailed elsewhere.

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