Monday, 17 July 2017 20:18

Mitchell-Blake Crowned British Champion in 200 Meters

BIRMINGHAM, England – With London set to be the host city of the 2017 IAAF World Championships later this summer, LSU senior Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake will line up on home soil as the British Champion in the 200-meter dash thanks to his record-setting victory in Sunday’s finale at the British Athletics Championships.

Mitchell-Blake, a 200-meter semifinalist at the Rio Olympics last summer, made his first World Championship team as the event will run Aug. 5-13 at the London Stadium, the home of the 2012 Olympic Games.

In what proved to be the fastest 200-meter final in the history of the British Athletics Championships, Mitchell-Blake broke John Regis’ 30-year-old championship record of 20.25 seconds from 1987 with a sprint of 20.18 (+0.8) to edge Danny Talbot at the finish line for the win as Talbot scored the silver in 20.20. Leon Reid also made his case for a spot on Team GB with a time of 20.38 for the bronze medal.

“This is the first time I’ve run in front of my home crowd, and the experience is second to none,” Mitchell-Blake shared with IAAF.org. “I’m so pleased I have the opportunity to do it again in London. It was a great field and it was the last event for a reason. Everybody stepped up, and hopefully we can do the country proud now in London.”

The top-two finishers in each event at the British Athletics Championships this weekend earned their spot on Great Britain’s World Championship team, while UK Athletics will also select a third member for each event that has achieved the qualifying standard for the World Championships.

Mitchell-Blake continued his outstanding senior season at LSU that also saw him sprint to the silver medal in the 200-meter final at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships on June 9.

After taking down the British Athletics Championship record on Sunday afternoon, Mitchell-Blake will next set his sights on Regis’ 24-year-old British national record of 19.94 set at the World Championships back in 1993 in Stuttgart, Germany. Mitchell-Blake is already just one one-hundredth of a second off the mark with his personal best of 19.95 set at the SEC Championships in 2016.

This year’s British Athletics Championships also saw LSU sophomore Hollie Parker finish 15th overall in the women’s 800 meters on Saturday as she ran the third-fastest time of her career at 2 minutes, 8.07 seconds. The Tigers’ Class of 2017 recruit Jake Norris of Windsor, Berkshire, England, added an eighth-place finish in the men’s hammer throw on Sunday with a series-best mark of 219 feet, 7 inches.


Laura Muir wins in Padova – weekly round-up

Padova, July 16

Laura Muir returned to winning ways as she led home a very big women’s 1500m field in 4:05.01. Hannah England was 13th in a season’s best 4:09.52.

Dina Asher-Smith had her most encouraging result since her return from injury as she was third in the 200m in 23.15 into a 1.0mps headwind. She was the sole non-American in a race won by all-time great Allyson Felix in 22.80.

Dan Bramble was second in the long jump with 8.01m.

British Athletics League BIG Saturday, Bedford, July 15

The third round of fixtures saw all five divisions come together in one extremely busy meeting that ultimately over-ran by nearly two hours.

Birchfield dominated the Premiership fixture winning eight A string events.

Joel Fearon won the 100m in 10.28 and also won an open 100m in 10.26 ahead of Richard Kilty, while Leon Reid won the 200m in 20.85.

Newham’s Rabah Yousif won the 400m in 46.19.

Sale won the Division One match but it is Cardiff who lead overall and are set for promotion.

See this week’s AW magazine for Martin Duff’s report and Gary Mitchell’s photographs.

Schools International, Dublin, July 15

England dominated the event.

Their men’s track winners included Daniel Afolabi at 100m in 11.00, Ethan Brown at 400m in 48.01 and 800m record-setter Max Burgin won his event in 1:52.4.

Wales’ Owain Lloyd-Hughes narrowly won the 200m in 22.38 while Ireland’s Darragh McElhinney won the 1500m.

England were even more dominant in the field as Dominic Ogbechie won the long jump with a 7.33m leap and Frankie Johnson took the pole vault with a 4.61m pole vault. George Hyde’s 16.14m won the shot and Tom Hewson’s 68.16m won the javelin.

For the women, there were further English successes. Emily Williams won the 800m in 2:07.85 while Ella McNiven won the 3000m by over 20 seconds in 9:36.87. Marcia Sey won the 80m hurdles in 11.33.

Patience Jumbo-Gula won the 100m for Ireland in 12.21 and also spearheaded their winning 4x100m team.

England won seven of the eight women’s field events and Oreoluwa Adamson won the long jump with a 6.00m leap and Tara Simpson-Sullivan dominated the hammer with a 61.06m throw.

Heather Cubbage won discus with a 44.61m PB. Ireland’s Kate O’Connor won the javelin.

French Championships, Marseilles, July 14-16

Heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson achieved a 23.43 win in the 200m and leapt 1.93m in the high jump. Her shot though was a disappointing 12.10m.

Madrid, July 14

Martyn Rooney ran a season’s best 45.65 in finishing sixth in the 400m, while Anyika Onoura ran 51.81 in the women’s race, which placed her fourth.

Tom Burton was second in his 400m hurdles race in 49.95 while Nick Miller was fourth in the hammer with a throw of 75.59m.

Internationally the highlight was Isaac Makwala producing a sensational 200m and 400m double of 19.77 and 43.92. The 200m time was a world lead.

Luton 10km, July 16

Fifteen-year-old Jed Noblett won in a time of 38:21.

Tara Kinder Memorial 10K, Elvaston Castle, July 14

W40 Lisa Palmer-Blount won the women’s race in 36:19. Chris Millett was first man in 34:02.


My Greatest Challenge – Holly Bradshaw

 

British record-holder Holly Bradshaw is among the world’s top pole vaulters. The 2012 world indoor bronze medallist looks back on overcoming four surgeries in the past four years as the greatest hurdle in her career.

A CAREER OF TWO HALVES
"I look back on my career in two separate blocks.

"The first would be in the eight or nine years since I first started the sport, leading all the way through to the London Olympics. The second being my post-London career. During that first block, I could not put a foot wrong. I enjoyed an amazing time with no downfalls. I loved the event, the sport, everything went so well.

"However, since London I have faced some really hard challenges. During each of the past four years, I’ve had a surgery. I’ve faced some horrible injuries. It has been relentless.

"After the London Olympics, I developed a back problem which spilled over into 2013 and I had back surgery the next year. In 2015 I had a knee surgery and I have had an achilles surgery for each of the past two years.

"I’ve endured some dark times. With the back injury, I had six months out when I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even jog or lift weights, which was really difficult as I have always been active for as long as I can remember. Each injury has proved a mental challenge.

"Yet at no stage have I ever doubted myself. I have been lucky to have a great support network. I have an amazing husband and family that back me 100 per cent. I have a very supportive coach (Scott Simpson) and training partner (Sally Peake). I have support at British Athletics and through my psychologist, Sarah Cecil. I am fortunate to have such a tight-knit team who have been with me every step of the way.

"When I was younger, after I jumped the British record of 4.87m, I thought I was going to jump those heights every week. But it doesn’t work like that, so after I jumped 4.80m in Manchester in May I felt very grateful.

"I feel now I have the right the balance in terms of how to train without injury. I can take rest days when I need to. I’m not slogging myself during training. It is all about being smart. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from each and every injury. It has made me a better athlete."


David Torrence Successfully Representing Peru

Middle-distance athlete David Torrence whisked into the Peruvian record books twice last month.

The Malibuite, a runner for Peru’s national team, set the South American country’s record in the mile run on June 1 when he won the event at the Massachusetts-based Adrian Martinez Classic in 3 minutes, 53.21 seconds.

The Cal Berkley product set a Peruvian record in the 1,500-meter race 17 days later. He ran the competition in 3:34.67, finishing eighth at the Stockholm Diamond League meet in Sweden.

The professional runner said setting records for the Latin American nation has been exciting for him, running fans in the country and the Peruvian Athletics Sport Federation, the governing body of athletics in Peru.

“I’ve been able to break some records and knock on the door for some of the South American track and field records,” Torrence, 31, said.

Thirteen months ago, Torrence, America-born, joined the Peruvian National team to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The switch from the red, white and blue to the red and white of Peru was possible because Torrence’s mother, Malibu Realtor Bianca Torrence, is a native of the country.

So far this year, Torrence has run either the mile, 800-meter, 1,000-meter or 1,500-meter in 12 events in the U.S. and Europe. He finished fifth in the 1,500-meter at a Diamond League meet in Olso, Norway three days before the race in Stockholm. The Malibu resident said the two performances were big for him because the Diamond League, a series of International Association of Athletic Federations’ events, is tops in the world.

“It shows I really do belong,” Torrence said.

Torrence, who has family in Peru, visited the country last September after the Olympics in neighboring Brazil. He was recognized on the streets, met with youth and was honored by the national leaders. Torrence said he hasn’t been to Peru in several months, but will go there in the fall to train for one of the biggest races in South America in November.

“I might try to run a camp or two while I’m there,” he added.

The runner’s next competition is the 1,500-meter at an event in Heusden, Belgium.

Torrence is currently doing high altitude training in Flagstaff, Ariz. He said darting eight to 14 miles per day around wooded and mountainous tracks in the higher elevation aids him in improving his endurance.

“I’m kicking my butt almost every day,” he said. “I’m focused on running hard.”

Torrence is keyed in on the Aug. 4-13 IAAF World Championships in London. There he will compete in the 1,500-meter race.

“This is the one I really want to make a statement at,” Torrence said.

The pro runner of nine years said he is hitting his prime now. He credits his work with Altis World, an elite training center in Phoenix, for helping him improve his running.

“Joining that team has been completely reinvigorating,” Torrence said. “For a while I was training alone. While that has its benefits, it can be difficult. Everyone is keen to helping everyone else at Altis.”

Torrence works out with some of the speediest runners in the world at Altis.

Despite breaking records this year and being seconds away from breaking the South American record of 3:33.25 in the 1,500-meter, Torrence said when he competes he doesn’t focus on setting records. He is set on beating other runners.

“More than anything, I want to compete well,” Torrence said. “I really just worry about my placement in races. At the end of the day, I’d rather have a first-place finish than a fast time.”

Thompson And Miller-uibo Impress In Rabat - Iaaf Diamond League

Elaine Thompson won her 14th straight 100m race at the Meeting International Mohammed VI d'Athletisme, the tenth stop of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League, in Rabat on Sunday (16).

It didn't come easily for the double Olympic champion, who had Marie Josee Ta Lou for company until some 80 metres into the race, before surging to a slight lead she held through the finish, clocking 10.87.

"I'm pleased with my race," said Thompson, whose performance was her fastest since her 10.71 world lead at the Jamaican championships on 23 June. "My races are going fine and I'm in the shape I want to be in now."

Ta Lou wasn't too far behind in a season's best 10.90 to finish second for the fourth straight time in Diamond League action. Further back, Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago was third in 11.02.

Another Olympic champion, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, was a much more dominant winner, taking the 400m in 49.80 by more than a second over Natasha Hastings, who reached the line in 50.86.

“This was actually a training race for me,” Miller-Uibo said, minutes after her meet record run and appearing barely winded for her effort, one just 0.03 shy of her season’s best. “The time is good but that’s not very important for me now. What counts are the World Championships.”

The face-off with Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya never fully materialised. The South African was lethargic from the gun and never in the hunt, eventually finishing seventh in 51.53. Afterwards, the 26-year-old was all smiles.

“It was hard to get moving, obviously, and to get a rhythm,” she said, smiling widely. “I haven’t raced in a month -- it’s been too long.”

AMOS’S MOMENTUM CONTINUES
Nijel Amos won his fourth straight race --and third consecutive Diamond League contest-- in impressive front-running fashion, boding well for his return to London Stadium, where he won Olympic silver in 2012, in three week's time.

Running just a step behind pacesetter Bram Som when he cruised past the bell in 49.81, Amos held a three-metre lead on Kipyegon Bett, his closest pursuer. The Kenyan ate up some of the deficit by the time the field reached the final bend, but Amos, in his teeth-baring fist-clinching style, powered on and away to a convincing 1:43.91 win.

It wasn't as quick as his world-leading 1:43.11 run in London one week ago, but it was as impressive, given his strong homestretch performance.

“I have been working hard on my speed,” he said. “When they were closing in on me I had a good finishing kick.”

Kipyegon was second in 1:44.28 with US champion Donavan Braizer third in 1:44.62.

MOROCCAN MIDDLE DISTANCE HEROICS
There were three bouts of fireworks at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex Stadium, two coming on the track as a warm-up to the post-meet display that lit up the northwest Moroccan sky.

The first came courtesy of Soufiane El Bakkali, who dominated the men’s 3000m steeplechase over the final two laps en route to an 8:05.12 lifetime best. Waving to the crowd in the far corner of the stadium as he approached the final turn, the crowd exploded in roars as he entered the straight for the final time, crossing the line more than five seconds clear of Kenyan Jairus Birech.

“What I expected has been achieved, namely the support of the crowd,” said El Bakkali, who finished fourth in the Rio Olympics last year. “I hope to go the world championship in London in good spirits and at a good level. There are strong competitors and I will fight until the end.”

That spirit showed when El Bakkali raced Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto to the line in Rome last month, and a re-match here was one of the most anticipated face-offs for local fans. That in the end didn’t come to pass as Kipruto, running mid-pack, stopped running with just over two laps to go.

“I’m still having a lot of trouble with my right ankle,” said Kipruto, who also pulled out of Ostrava’s Golden Spike late last month. “I decided to race and I was hoping the pain would stay away. But it was wise to leave the race and try to get healthy.”

The second came in the evening-capping men’s 3000m, where long-time local favourite Abdelaati Iguider held off Spain’s Adel Mechaal in a frenzied homestretch battle that left the fans dancing, stomping and singing in the stands. Iguider clocked a season’s best 7:37.82 ahead of Mechaal’s 7:38.36.

CICHOCKA’S IMPRESSIVE KICK
The women's 1500m nearly witnessed the first Moroccan victory of the evening courtesy of world and Olympic finalist Rababe Arafi, only to be foiled in the last few steps by Poland's Angelika Cichocka.

Laura Weightman led the fairly tight pack through the bell, but Arafi took command as they entered the back straight, building a three-metre cushion the field. Brenda Martinez of the US was first to give chase, and appeared to be gaining ground midway through the final turn, with Cichocka on her shoulder.

The homestretch battle was a thriller. Propelled by boisterous fans that filled the homestretch stands to capacity, Arafe battled on, first fighting off, and eventually breaking Martinez. But the Pole fought back. Unrelenting, she powered by the Moroccan in the final ten metres to take the victory, clocking 4:01.93.

“This victory is very important for my confidence," said Cichocka, last year's European champion. "I worked on my finishing speed and that helped me win this race. That proves that my preparation is going well and I'm looking forward to the world championships now.”

Arafe clocked 4:02.19 in second with Martinez third in 4:02.75, a season's best.

In the women’s steeplechase, Gesa Felicitas Krause took command of the race over the last lap to collect her first career Diamond League victory, clocking 9:18.87, nearly two seconds ahead of Kenyan’s Norah Jeruto and Roseline Chepngetich, who clocked 9:20.51 and 9:20.69 respectively.

“Today I was able to show good tactics and a strong finishing kick,” said Krause, the 2015 world bronze medallist.

DASH VICTORIES TO DE GRASSE AND UJAH
Andre de Grasse fell just short of his sub-20 goal, but he did manage another Diamond League 200m win in 20.03, another meeting record.

Running even with US champion Ameer Webb midway through the turn, de Grasse pulled ahead as they entered the home straight. Just as Webb appeared ready to find another gear, de Grasse found his own to pull away convincingly.

Webb was second in 20.18 with Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain third in 20.22.

The men’s 100m quickly turned into a fierce two-way contest, with Chijindu Ujah of Great Britain holding off Ben Youssef Meite to win in 9.98, a season's best and meeting record just 0.02 shy of his lifetime best.

Ujah had a clear lead by the midway point but was pressured to the line by Meite, who clocked 10.01.

In the 400m hurdles, two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova collected her first victory of the year with a 54.22 season's best. Jamaican Janieve Russell closed well, managing to cut some of the Czech's margin but still came up short, reaching the line in 54.36.

Chijindu Ujah wins men's 100 metres in 9.98 seconds

Chijindu Ujah set a new meeting record as he won the men's 100 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Rabat.

Ujah ran a time of 9.98 seconds - beating the previous record of 10.12 held by Justin Gatlin - a season's best time and just short of his personal best. Fellow British athlete Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake was third, clocking 10.18.

In the men's high jump, Britain's Robbie Grabarz finished second behind Andriy Protsenko with a leap of 2.27.

There were third-place finishes for Brits Eilidh Doyle and Zharnel Hughes in the women's 400m hurdles and men's 200m respectively.

Meanwhile, there was a significant home win for Morocco's Soufiane El-Bakkali in the men's 3000m steeplechase. His personal best time of 8:05.12 saw him go top of the standings and confirm his place in the Diamond League Final.

De Grasse wins 200m to book Diamond League finals spot

July 16 (Reuters) - Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse claimed the victory he needed in the 200 metres to book a place in the end-of-season IAAF Diamond League finals during the latest stop in the series in Rabat, Morocoo on Sunday.

The Olympic silver medallist stormed home in 20.03 seconds ahead of American Ameer Webb (20.18) and Britain's Zharnel Hughes (20.22).

Like many of the athletes on show, De Grasse was using the event as a warm-up for the world championships in London from Aug. 4-13. He was pleased with his run, but has yet to go under 20 seconds this season.

“It was a good race and a good performance,” De Grasse said. “I was pushed in the bend, but I wanted to finish strong today and to stay relaxed. This was a race to tune-up for the world championships and it went pretty well.”

Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson picked up her 14th victory in a row in the 100 metres, edging Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

Thompson's time of 10.87 was an improvement on her run in London last weekend by 0.07, and more success for the double Olympic champion, who has focused only on this distance in 2017.

"I'm pleased with my race," Thompson said. "I'm in the shape that I want to be in and I'm looking forward to the world championships in London."

UJAH VICTORY

With Jamaica's Yohan Blake having pulled out of the men's 100 metres competition, Britain's Chijindu Ujah claimed victory in 9.98 seconds, 0.02 off his personal best.

Ivorian Ben Youssef Meite was second in 10.01, while another Britain, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, was some way off the pace in third in a time of 10.18.

Moroccan rising star Soufiane El-Bakkali claimed the men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase in a personal best of 8:05.12. Kenya's Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto did not finish the race.

The eagerly-anticipated women's 400 metres battle between Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas and South Africa's 800 metres Olympic champion Caster Semenya was a non-event.

Miller-Uib coasted home in 49.80, but Semenya was well back in seventh in a time of 51.53, though that was her best run of the Diamond League series.

American Ryan Crouser claimed a 10th straight win in the shot put with 22.47 metres, while Colombia’s Olympic champion Caterine Ibarguen returned to winning ways in the triple jump with 14.51 metres after defeat by Yulimar Rojas in Rome.

The next Diamond League meeting is in Monaco on July 21.

The two finals meets are in Zurich and Brussels, with half of the 32 events contested in each. The Diamond League title in each event is determined solely by results at the finals. (Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)