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bolt rules the palace

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Dennison
British record for Dennison

24 July 2009

An astounding performance from Usain Bolt (Jamaica), home victories by Mo Farah, Jemma Simpson and Nicola Sanders and yet another UK record from Kate Dennison warmed the crowd on a cool night at Crystal Palace on day one of the Aviva London Grand Prix.

Jamaican showman Bolt thrilled the capacity crowd with a storming victory in unfavourable sprinting conditions in the men’s 100m. The super confident Olympic champion played to the crowd in typical style before the start. But once the starter’s gun fired, it was all business.

It looked like a close contest until 70 metres, but then his monstrous stride-length told and he galloped away from a world class field to win comfortably in 9.91 (-1.7m/s).   Yohan Blake (Jamaica) was second in 10.11 and Daniel Bailey (Antigua) was third in 10.13.

UK champion Simeon Williamson was 4th in 10.19 ahead of former world record holder Asafa Powell, who was 6th in 10.26. GB & NI international Craig Pickering was 7th in 10.46. 

Bolt said: “Crystal Palace is just a great place to run and the fans have been fantastic. I feel really good about going to Berlin and I am going there on a mission.”

Farah had targeted David Moorcroft’s 27 year old UK record of 13:00.41 in the men’s 5000m, but in the slightly windy conditions, it was always big ask. Nevertheless, he still came away from the stadium with his customary toothy smile, beating a top-class field in 13:09.14.

“I’ve been training harder than ever before. It’s been going well over the last couple of weeks, so I am looking forward to the World Championships. I am still improving and hope to better the sixth place last time. I have learned a lot since the last World Championships.” said Farah.

3000m steeplechase world record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen was among those left trailing in the Brit’s wake. But it was Kenya’s Sammy Mutahi who looked most likely to spoil the party as he led with just 100m to go, before Farah produced a stunning burst of speed to take the win, clocking a speedy 56 second final lap.

In the women’s 800m, Simpson gave further evidence of her growing stature as she led home a GB 1-2-3 ahead of Jenny Meadows and Marilyn Okoro, repeating the same result from the recent Aviva UK Championships and World Trials. Okoro led with 200m to go, but Simpson picked her off in confident style to win in 2:01.08.

Simpson: “It was not my best tactical race. I got boxed in at the bell. But I felt really strong. I am strong enough to run it in a different way now. I can come home strong. I am racing in Monaco next week so will hopefully run quicker.”

In the women’s 400m, Sanders showed she is over the ankle injury that has hampered her season with a fine victory in 51.54 despite the blustery conditions. In the women’s pole vault, Kate Dennison collected her fourth $5000 cheque of the year with yet another British record at an Aviva televised event. She cleared 4.58m at her final attempt to finish 5th in a world-class field.

Dennison said: “I am chuffed to bits, but I had to fight for it. I feel now that I am in the mix with these girls and I am truly jumping world class heights.”

Other British highlights were Andy Turner’s third place in the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.66 (-2.2m/s) and Emily Freeman’s third place in the women’s 200m in 23.34 (+0.3m/s). Michael Rimmer was fourth in the men’s 800m in 1:46.13 whilst in the men’s triple jump, Olympic silver medallist Phillips Idowu was third with 17.16m (0.2m/s).