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Aviva grand prix

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Jenny Meadows
Meadows in record breaking form

 

20 February 2010

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Jenny Meadows (Wigan) and Kate Dennison (Sale) provided the icing on the cake at the Aviva Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon, with Meadows not only taking a hugely popular 800m win, but also delivering a new national indoor 800m record in the process, and Dennison setting her eleventh UK pole vault record, flying over the bar at 4.60m

Up until that point it had been an exciting afternoon with a number of athletes securing their places in the Aviva GB & NI team for the World Indoor championships in Doha. But the sight of Meadows galloping to her record and a bonus cheque for $5000 dollars really gave polish to the entire Grand prix programme.

Taking on the pace with 300m to go, Meadows drew strength from the home support and eased over the line in 1:59.11, a tenth inside Dame Kelly Holmes’ seven year old record.

It was also a great result for fellow Brit Vicky Griffiths also, who once again demonstrated real promise with 2:02.44 in third position.

But the day belonged to Meadows – who later picked up a cheque for £1500 for the day’s best performance, but still wanted to improve further:

“I knew I was in shape. It’s amazing to re write the record books. My training partner was pacing the race and I felt so good in early in the race that I wanted to pass her! But I thought ‘I can’t, that’s too cheeky!’ so I waited. I made my move in the third lap and it felt so good.  I wanted to push it on and thought that I wanted to win the race.

“Of course I am happy with the British Record. I wish I had run 1.58 but I am never happy, I always want more!”

Dennison – almost a veteran of record breaking faced a world class pole vault field and as is the norm in recent months is beginning to feature more and more in the latter stages of action. She took fifth position with her 4.60m, and confirmed her ever improving status on the world stage.

“That was good,” she said. “I was disappointed not to get the height last week (at the World trials) so I was determined today. That’s eleven now and my second this year.

“It’s fantastic coming here and jumping with these girls. That is what it is all about. It’s good to know I’m close to them now. I think once I’m hitting the 4.70s I’ll really be in the mix.”

South American vaulter Fabiana Murer (BRA) took the win with a national record of 4.82.

Back on the track and Nick Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet) was the top performer in a three way battle of the Brits in the men’s 60m final. Not only did he eclipse UK rivals Mark Lewis Francis and Harry Aikines Aryeetey in finishing third and first Brit in 6.60, but also set a Scottish record. Although race winner Michael Rodgers (USA) led the way in 6.57, Smith led the celebrations in the arena as he saw his position appear on the screen.

“I’ve been running very well all season but it’s just not quite clicked together until today. I was happy to make the final but to run a PB and a Scottish record I can’t really believe it. I don’t have my coach with me today and I think there’s something in that, I don’t know why. I focused on myself and just stayed relaxed and thought about what I had to do,” he said after.

“Today I was the underdog and that’s the way I like it. I don’t know what the selectors will do now...I hope I’ve given them something to think about.”

In the field, one of the day’s big head to heads between Phillips Idowu and Sweden’s Christian Olsson certainly delivered although a number of other athletes also got in on the act, with five athletes exceeding 17m.

Although Olsson came out with the win on his comeback from injury with 17.32m, Idowu in fifth position was just 5cm behind, and it means there is all to play for in the approaching World Indoor Championships.

Olsson, said after: “I’m really happy with that performance, 17.32 is my longest jump in all my injuries. It’s great to be back here at Birmingham where I’ve got loads of good memories, I’m just really happy.”

“I’m just trying to enjoy myself as much as possible – today was really enjoyable. Phillips wasn’t jumping at his best, just normal standards and although this means nothing towards the World Championships, it feels good for me right now.”

Elsewhere in the field, Tom Parsons (Birchfield Harriers) and Samson Oni (Belgrave) put on a superb high jump show as they both battled their way up the heights until they both impressively cleared the World Indoor selection standard of 2.28m on first attempts. With the bar raised to 2.31m, the two both had strong efforts to further improve on their personal bests but it was not to be.

Instead they watched Russia’s Yaroslav Rybakov clear the height with ease and take the Grand Prix win, but both were buoyed by their afternoon’s work in the NIA, with Oni in particular satisfied to have maintained his high standards:

“I feel okay with my performance, it certainly wasn’t my best but I’m happy. The crowd were telling me that I was cutting it really close to the bar so it was clearly a tight one,” he said.

“I thought that it could have been a bit better but at the end of the day I came second to the World Champion and that’s a great thing to do despite my performance.”

The men’s 800m saw a thrilling finish with two Brits hitting personal best performances that could well have secured their places in the team headed for Doha.

Andrew Osagie (Harlow) and Ed Aston (Cambridge & Coleridge) timed their runs to perfection crossing the line in third and fifth places in 1:47.71 and 1:48.24 respectively – well inside the UKA world indoor standard of 1:48.50.

For Osagie the breakthrough was a long time coming, and he couldn’t contain his delight after the race:

“I’m so elated by my result – I did think that I had a good chance going in to it but I’m really excited about how I performed and the result in general,” he said.

“I feel good but I can properly feel that performance in my legs now, but I’ll just keep on training and hopefully continue to get better.”

With British interests reduced following the withdrawal of Mo Farah (Newham & Essex) with a cold and Tom Lancashire (Bolton), it was down to Andy Vernon (Aldershot Farnham & District and Scot Overall (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) to fly the flag in the men’s 3000m race. Neither disappointed, and both dipped inside the standard for the World Indoor 3000m; Vernon clocking 7:49.84 to Overall’s 7:50.66.

“I wasn’t sure how I was feeling going into the race, my legs weren’t feeling great but Scott [Overall] and I decided to share the work,” revealed Vernon. “The second time I took it on I started to make up some ground on the Africans and that gave me a great boost. I felt really strong and it was good to see what I could do.”

The race was won in a stunning final lap sprint by Sammy Muthai (Kenya) in 7:44.58.

In the women’s 400m, sole GB representative Kim Wall (Basildon) made a brave attempt at upsetting the world class field by blasting through the opening 200m trying to make the break first. It almost worked as she slotted nicely into second place but over the final lap faded to fifth, crossing the line in 53.35. Race winner Novlene Williams (Jamaica) looked assured in taking the win in 52.03.

It was also a familiar story as Richard Buck (City of York) was the only GB athlete in the main 400m race and at the break was somewhat off the pace as Jamaica’s Ricardo Chambers led the pack through 200m. Ireland’s David Gillick then took up the running and stormed to an impressive victory in 45.52 – one of the fastest indoor times in the world this year.

Buck, however used his strength well, and over the last 50m, made his way through the pack to third place in 46.52 – a significant season’s best for the UK champion.

“It was a good race,” he said “It was a season’s best for me but it didn’t really go to plan. But the way David ran it couldn’t go to plan at all!”

Chris Clarke (Marshall Milton Keynes) sprung a surprise on his older rivals by winning the UK 400m race at the start of Saturday’s session. He took the break in first and held on through to the line holding off Nigel Levine (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) in second and putting himself in prime position with 4x400m relay places available in Doha.

He also ran 47.14, just outside the UKA selection standard of 47.00 for an individual slot, but no doubt the 2009 European Junior Champion made a significant impression with his run.

“I have not raced indoors since 2008 so did not know what to expect,” he said. “It was a PB so I am pleased with that. My coach told me to get to the front so I did my job and held on. “

The women’s 60m final was fascinating as the world’s fastest two athletes: Carmelita Jeter of the USA and Laverne Jones Ferrette (Virgin Islands) came head to head in every way shape and form. The two could not be split by the naked eye as they crossed the line, and it took a photo finish to decide that Jeter had come out on top, although both had clocked world class 7.06 secs a piece.

In the women’s long jump, Portugal’s Naide Gomes took the victory with 6.69m. Top Brit was UK Indoor title holder Amy Woodman (Birchfield) in seventh with 6.18m. Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka set a stadium record of 4:23.53 in winning the women’s mile race – where top GB athlete was Charlotte Best (Crawley) in ninth in 4:32.29.

The men’s 1500m victory went to Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen in 3:33.10 – Tim Bayley (Belgrave)was the first home grown athlete to finish in seventh in a personal best of 3:40.16.

The women’s two mile race billed as an attempt on the world record did not produce a world best mark but the ensuing sprint finish between Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenya’s Vivien Cheruiyot in 9:12.23 and 9:12.35 was a great spectacle for the endurance enthusiasts. Barbara Parker (City of Norwich) took sixth in 9:35.83.

In the 60m hurdles finals, there were world class performances on show. Olympic Champion Dayron Robles showed utter class in taking the men’s race in 7.44 secs. In the women’s final, Danielle Carruthers (USA) took the win in 7.95 with Zara Hohn (Wakefield) finishing sixth in 8.36.