Thursday, 13 July 2017 19:33

Trackside: Stringing the victories together

Liverpool Harrier Katarina Johnson-Thompson finishes eighth at the Muller Anniversary Games

Liverpool Harriers continued their impressive season in the Northern Athletics League with victory at Wirral’s Bebington Oval, scoring 408 points, with Wirral (304) just outside the top three in fourth.

‘A’ string victories for the men from David Devine (1,500m, 4:01.7), Andrew Desmond (400m Hurdles, 57.0), Michael Bomba (hammer throw, 64.43m and shot put, 10.99m) Alnis Kulikovis (discus, 38.29) and Mike Hartley (high jump, 1.85m) put Liverpool in control of the fixture.

The women also performed excellently with wins for Caitlin Price (hammer, 44.71m) and Holly Smith (long jump, 5.51m & triple jump, 11.20m)

Despite a fantastic performance once again in the sprints thanks to Sam Landsborough winning both the ‘A’ string 100m and 200m events in 10.7 and 21.3 respectively, backed up by Victor Oyesola winning both the 100m and B string 100m and 200m’s Wirral had to settle for fourth with Harvey Darroch (long jump, 6.14m) and Don Darroch (pole vault, 3.30m) also securing ‘A’ string victories.

Obi Curry was the sole ‘A’ string female winner on the day for Wirral, winning the 200m in 25.2.

Wirral were triumphant in both the men and women’s 4x100m, with Liverpool seeking revenge with victory in both the male and female 4x400m. Liverpool lead Division Two West, with one remaining fixture at Blackburn on Saturday, August 5.

LPS in League of their own

Liverpool Pembroke & Sefton produced a dominant performance in their Northern League fixture at Ormskirk, securing promotion to division two for next season.

With 22 victories in the ‘A’ string events and 21 in the ‘B’, they amassed a superb points score of 505, ahead of East Cheshire (406) and Salford (247). LPS have secured promotion with one fixture remaining hosted by East Cheshire on Saturday, August 5.

Amongst the highlights from Ormskirk included victories for Danny Higham in the men’s 400m in 48.60 with Lucy Townson continuing her fine run of form with maximum points to win the 400m.

In the field Jenny Pyatt won all three of her events with throws of 41.85m in the discus, 38.07m in the javelin and 10.18m in the shot. The previous afternoon Pyatt won bronze at the English Schools Track & Field Championships, held at Alexandra Stadium in Birmingham with a best throw of 41.86m.

Elsewhere, Ben Russell clinched victory at the RunThrough Tatton 10k on Sunday morning, crossing the line in 32 minutes and 15 seconds to win by a clear margin from unattached runner Dan Morgan with Stoke’s Stuart Fisher in third.

The next local finisher was Bryan Stevenson (36:59) of UTS Run Club in fifth with the first local female home Zoe Pearce, also of Hoylake based UTS Run Club, in third place in 43:09.

Kat's eyes on capital return

Katarina Johnson-Thompson had a mixed afternoon at the Muller Anniversary Games in London, with the multi-event specialist competing in both the 100m hurdles and long jump events in the Diamond League meeting.

The Liverpool Harrier finished eighth in a world class 100m hurdles final in 13.45 before narrowly missing out on a podium position in the long jump contest with a best jump of 6.75m, with 2016 Olympic Champion Tianna Bartoletta (USA) winning overall in 7.01m.

Johnson-Thompson will now return to her training base in France before returning to the Olympic Stadium next month having been officially announced as part of British Athletics team of 78 athletes to compete at next month’s IAAF World Championships.

Club-mate Anyika Onuora has also been selected for the Championships, which start on August 4, following her third-placed finish at the trials the previous weekend and season’s best of 51.92 over 400m set in Gainesville, Florida earlier in the year.

Sprinter James Ellington targets April comeback after crash

Sprinter James Ellington is targeting a comeback at the Commonwealth Games in April following a career-threatening motorbike crash earlier this year.

The 31-year-old double Olympian will miss the entire 2017 season after a serious road accident with fellow British sprinter Nigel Levine while the pair were on a training camp in Tenerife in January.

Ellington broke his pelvis and both legs when the motorbike he was travelling on with Levine was hit by a car driven around a bend on the wrong side of the road.

He was a member of Great Britain's gold medal-winning 4x100m relay teams at the 2014 and 2016 European Championships and now hopes to compete in the same event in Berlin next August, as well as the Worlds in Doha in 2019. But before that, Ellington believes he could make the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.

"It gives me another target to aim for," he said. "You have to aim high if you want to achieve something. Even getting out of the wheelchair early, getting off the crutches early, I'm way ahead of where they originally thought I would be.

"Personally I think I'm going to be back next year. The doctors and surgeons said I'd never be able to run again.

"From the very beginning, I told the doctors and surgeons that my goals were to come back. They looked at me a bit dubious like 'I don't know about that'. But I've proved them wrong so far so now they're starting to believe me."

Deajah Stevens Turns Pro

JC transfer’s meteoric rise to Olympic finalist leads to move after junior season

Oregon’s Deajah Stevens will skip her senior season and is turning pro, she announced Wednesday night on social media, ending a two-year-long stint with the Ducks that saw the sprint star rapidly ascend from junior college transfer to world class competitor.

The 2016 Olympic finalist and 2017 U.S. champion in the 200 meters wrote in an Instagram post: “Excited to officially announce that I am going pro! Grateful to my mom, coaches, and friends for their support, and I will stay at UO to finish school. Off to London soon!”

Stevens, 22, didn’t say who her agent will be or if she has signed a shoe contract, though she’ll presumably remain under the tutelage of Oregon associate head coach Curtis Taylor at least through the IAAF World Outdoor Track and Field Championships taking place in London in three weeks.

Stevens is also entered in the 100 at the World Outdoor Championships after finishing second at the U.S. Outdoor Championships in June.

She has the fifth-fastest 200 time in the world this season at 22.09.

It will be her second global championship meet in as many summers. Stevens, then just six months into her Oregon career after transferring from College of the Sequoias, finished second in the women’s 200 at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials and followed with a seventh-place finish at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Her 2017 outdoor season at Oregon included three school records, two collegiate records and an NCAA team title.
The junior also was the Pac-12 women’s track athlete of the year after winning conference titles in the 100 and 200.

Stevens’ personal-best of 22.09 seconds in the 200 is a UO record, and she teamed with Makenzie Dunmore, Hannah Cunliffe and Ariana Washington to set the collegiate record in the 4x100 relay at 42.12 — a time LSU matched later in the season.

In the final event of the NCAA Outdoor meet, she helped set the collegiate 4x400 record at 3:32.13 along with Dunmore, Elexis Guster and Raevyn Rogers.

The win in the 4x400 secured the team title for the Ducks and sealed Oregon’s historic run to the Triple Crown when it became the first women’s program to win NCAA team titles in cross country and indoor track and field and outdoor track and field in the same academic year.

Until then, Stevens’ most memorable moment in the NCAA meet was her fall just before the finish line in the 200 final, leading to a disqualification. She also was the runner-up in the 100.

She was the Pac-12 champion in both events.

U.S. Sprinters Dominate In Lignano

US 400m sprinters Phyllis Francis and Josephus Lyles were in the spotlight at the International Meeting Sport e Solidarietà in the Italian seaside resort of Lignano Sabbiadoro on Wednesday (12).

Francis, who last year won Olympic 4x400m gold and finished fifth in the individual 400m in Rio, broke the meeting record with her winning time of 50.86, just 0.9 short of the PB she set to finish second at the recent US Championships.

“I feel good about this race,” said Francis. “I hope to run faster and win a medal in London.”

Compatriot Jessica Beard won the B race with 51.42 ahead of Jamaica’s world U20 bronze medallist Junelle Bromfield (52.26).

Josephus Lyles held off World Championships qualifier Will London II by 0.03 in a close men’s 400m, setting a PB of 45.42. Lyles took silver and bronze medals in the 400m and 200m respectively at the 2015 World U18 Championships and is the younger brother of world U20 100m champion Noah Lyles.

Ahead of his appearance in his specialist event at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat, Botswana’s 2012 Olympic 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos opted to test his speed by running the 400min Lignano and set a personal best of 45.50.

Olympic 4x100m champion English Gardner edged out Brazil’s Rosangela Santos in a close women’s 100m as both were given the same time of 11.21. Isiah Young, who this year has clocked 9.97 in the 100m and 20.14 in the 200m, won the men’s 100m in 10.18 into a headwind of -0.5m/s.

USA’s 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper Nelson clinched the women’s 100m hurdles in 13.00 into a headwind of -1.0m/s.

In a 400m hurdles race dedicated to Italy’s 1948 Olympic finalist Ottavio Missoni, Haron Koech and Michael Tinsley crossed the line in unison, stopping the clock at 49.54 with Koech being awarded the victory. Italian champion Lorenzo Vergani prevailed over last year’s Lignano winner Mario Lambrughi in 49.83.

Qatar’s Jamal Hairane overtook last year’s Lignano winner Jacob Rozani and Italian Giordano Benedetti in a close men’s 800m in 1:46.84. Lauren Johnson edged Australia’s Brittnay McGowan by 0.03 to win the women’s race in 2:01.74. Kenya dominated both 1500m races with Jonathan Kiplimo Sawe taking the men’s race in 3:36:80 and Selah Businei winning the women’s in 4:07.93.

The Lignano meeting has been a springboard for future world and Olympic champions such as Elaine Thompson, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Wayde Van Niekerk.

Although she wasn’t competing, Thompson acted as the ambassador of this year’s meeting, held on the track where she trains during the summer season. The double Olympic champion won in Lignano in 2014 and 2015 and equalled Fraser-Pryce’s meeting record of 11.11 two years ago.