Stuart Weir was in Birmingham, covering the meet for RunBlogRun and Athletics Weekly. This is his first piece on the Muller British Grand Prix. Watch for his upcoming stories on Sunday!
A great day of athletics in Birmingham at the Muller British Grand Prix, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
All action in Birmingham
Elite athletics returned to Birmingham after a two-year absence while the Alexander Stadium was being renovated for the Commonwealth Games in July/August. 16,000 tickets were sold. The capacity of the stadium is complicated 16,000 today, 18,000 ongoing but 32,000 for the Commonwealth Games with temporary seats being added. The stadium looked magnificent even if the surroundings still resembled a building site. To put 16,000 in context, Aston Villa England’s 14th best football (soccer) club regularly plays in front of a crowd of 40,000 a couple of miles down the road.
The stadium was great, and the weather was fine – if a little windy. Katarina Stefanidi told me she had never been to Birmingham when it was not windy! All we needed was some high-class athletics and a few British winners. And we got both.
Laura Muir won the 1500m, dominating the race. Dina Asher-Smith won the 100m but just by one-hundredth of a second. Matt Hudson-Smith, an athlete with so much talent, but so often injured, won the 400 from a training partner, Vernon Norwood. Keely Hodgkinson won the 800 min.
The British women’s 4 by 100 relay team won comfortably. The men’s team won the 3 by 100 relay – what do you mean, they weren’t supposed to drop the baton and stop after three legs?
There were other British disappointments too. Olympic pole-vault bronze medalist, Holly Bradshaw failed at her opening height. It was a strange pole-vault competition with Olympic Champion, Katie Nageotte, also exiting the competition early, leaving Sandi Morris to come from behind to win.
There were a number of outstanding performances by international athletes. Malaika Mihambo jumped seven meters to win the women’s long jump and in case you missed it, she passed seven meters a second time. Valarie Allman won the women’s discus from Sandra Perkovic. Dalilah Muhammed was imperious in the 400 hurdles.
The athlete who gave the most value for money was Gabrielle Thomas who finished fifth in women’s 100m, having previously won the B race. There was high drama in the men’s 100 with two DQs before the race got underway.
Hansle Parchment won the 110m hurdles from Omar McLeod. If only Ronald Levy had been there, they could have called it the Jamaican Championships!
A third-hour program also included five para-athletics events and three youth relays. There were also six B races to enable more local athletes to run in front of a Diamond League crowd.
It was an excellent day’s entertainment