09 July, 2017

Phenomenal Felix wins at Muller Anniversary Games

The best of the IAAF Diamond League action from the London Stadium

Alyson Felix showed her preparations for the London 2017 World Championships are going extremely well as she set a world lead to win the women’s 400m at the Müller Anniversary Games, the London leg of the Diamond League.

Running on the very same track as the World Championships will take place on, the American showed her rivals a clean set of heels, setting a world lead of 49.65 to win by almost a second.

“It was good. I just wanted to put my plan together and execute my race. I just wanted to run my race and concentrate on me. This is my first Diamond League [this year] so it is good to get underway with a win. I am looking forward to get some more training in before the World Champs. It was great to get a run out on the track before the Champs.”

It was an American 1-2-3 in the end, with Courtney Okolo setting a 50.29 season’s best in second, whilst 400mH specialist Shamier Little revised her personal best for the flat distance with a 50.40 clocking.

Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was short of her usually extremely high standards, but still managed to take the women’s 100m in 10.94 (-1.4m/s), ahead of her biggest rival Dafne Schippers who was just three hundredths further back. Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor also went sub 11, her 10.99 season’s best good for third.

“I just came out here to execute. I didn’t want to watch anyone else. I just stayed in my lane and it doesn’t matter which lane it is, I just wanted to focus and get to the line. I have done two rounds of Diamond League but this preparation is all about the World Champs in a couple of weeks. I have to get used to doing the two rounds because this is how I can prepare best. I am looking forward to being back in the Stadium.”

There was also a world leading performance in the men’s 800m, Nijel Amos leading from gun to tape before crossing the line in 1.43.18. Right behind the pacemaker as they passed through 400m in 49.5, the Botswanan was clearly chasing the fast time that his recent form has suggested, and with his usual busy action down the home straight the London 2012 silver medallist fought all the way to the line. In second there was a season’s best for Donavan Brazier with a 1.43.95 time, whilst 1500m specialist Asbel Kiprop was third in 1.44.43.

In the women’s mile Laura Muir went for an assault on the British record, falling agonisingly close but setting a personal best of 4.18.03, less than half a second short of Zola Budd’s mark set way back in 1985. In the end her incredibly brave front running performance wasn’t quite enough to take the win either, Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri tracking her all the way before kicking clear down the home straight.

In fact Obiri got what Muir couldn’t quite, taking the Kenyan record with a 4.16.56 time, also a meeting record.

“The race went as I hoped. I was strong. I was very confident going into the race. Laura was very strong but I went with her and tried to stay as close as I could. I knew I had a good finish.  It was important to come and do well in a Diamond League meeting.”

Muir added:

“I can’t complain with a PB, I am really happy. I took the race on and really went for it.  Training has been going really well and I have had no reaction to the foot.  It responded well today and hopefully it will hold up for the worlds. I knew Helen was in really good shape. I heard her on my heels but I gave myself the best chance to win and get the record. The worlds are still a month down the road and I am encouraged after today – I know I can come back even fitter and faster.”

Mo Farah ensured the meeting ended on a high, the four time Olympic and five time world champion winning the 3,000m that concluded the programme in 7.35.15, kicking away from Spaniard Adel Mechaal who was right on his shoulder with 100m to go.

“The preparation [for London 2017] is going well – I’m grafting and continuing to tick boxes. Initially I was going to try and fit a 1500m race in between now and the World Championships, but this is my last race now. I go to Font [Romeu] tomorrow. This stadium is home for me, this is where my life changed and I made my name. The people make it for me.”

The 40,000 strong British crowd were treated to a thrilling contest in the women’s 100mH final, which was packed full of drama. Flying out of the blocks and gaining an early lead was Kendra Harrison, who set that stunning 12.20 world record at this meeting 12 months ago, but a revitalised Sally Pearson fought back, the Australian returning to her best after a number of years of injury problems. As they reached the final barrier Jasmin Stowers, also in the mix, clattered the hurdle and hit the track, but her compatriot Harrison held her nerve to take victory in 12.39 (0.2).

“I felt good, I got out well but unfortunately I hit a hurdle pretty bad and that set me off my rhythm. Sally pushed me all the way so it was really great to get a competitive race in and I’m happy with the time – it’s one of my fastest ever. It’s amazing here – the Worlds are going to be so good and I definitely want a world medal, that’s for sure.”

Pearson held her form for second place in a season’s best of 12.48, showing she’ll be in the mix for gold come London.

“I felt in good shape.  My times and my sprints have been improving but I had to prove to myself that I could actually do it so it was really nice to get that run today. I knew my preparations for London were going well but it was frustrating as I was running slow times. But I kept saying just keep going. I really wanted to prove to myself that I am ready to go. It is fantastic to be back on this track. It is awesome to be back. I want to thank the crowd.”

In the men’s equivalent London 2012 Olympic champion Aries Merritt posted a wonderful season’s best to take victory in 13.09, whilst Milan Trajkovic broke the Cypriot national record with a 13.25 time in second.

In the women’s pole vault Katerina Stefanidi cleared a huge 4.81m at the first time of asking to wrap up the win and bag eight valuable Diamond Race points. She made three solid attempts at a world leading height of 4.91m but it wasn’t to be on this occasion.

“I was actually not having the best day; I’m not a morning or early afternoon person so it took me a while to find my rhythm and get going! Even at the end I’d say I didn’t reach the bar feeling as physically or mentally strong as usual, but, for a bad day, 4.81m is still fairly pleasing. I know I’m ready for the next bar after 4.91m – hopefully come August and September it will come.

“The crowd and stadium were great – I think the crowds in the UK understand and love athletics; they cheer for their own athletes but also for us too, and they understand the difference between good and great marks.”

Mariya Lasitskene was a convincing winner in the women’s high jump, a 2.00m clearance seeing her get the better of American youngster Vashti Cunningham, who ended with a best of 1.97m. Afterwards the winner said:

“It wasn’t easy, but the audience were fantastic. The atmosphere gave me a lot of power and strength to jump higher. The points are good in the long run for the Diamond League, but I’m not happy that I didn’t jump higher. It is tough on your body so 2.00m is enough for today.”

The men’s 200m saw an American 1-2-3, Ameer Webb the strongest down the home straight, winning in 20.13 (-0.7). In his first race as a professional Fred Kerley set a lifetime best of 20.24 in second, whilst Isiah Young posted the same time in third. British champion Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake was once again the best Briton over the distance, fourth in 20.30.

The 400m hurdles saw Olympic champion Kerron Clement return to form, finishing strongly to deny long-time leader Kyron McMaster the biggest win of his career. Clement ran a well-judged race to pass a tiring McMaster and cross the line in 48.02, a season’s best. Rio 2016 bronze medallist Yasmani Copello also bagged a season’s best of 48.24 in third. Back in sixth there was another season’s best, this time for Briton Jack Green who ran 48.77, his fastest since 2012.

Daniel Stahl continued his breakthrough year, winning the men’s discus with a final round throw of 66.73, edging out Fredrick Dacres and Philip Milanov. That puts the Swede in pole position in the race to the Diamond League finals.

Tianna Bartoletta broke the meeting long jump record with her final jump of the competition, soaring out to 7.01m, which was also a season’s best. In second place, there was also a season’s best for Ivana Spanovic who leapt to 6.88m (-0.1) in the first round, but was forced to retire after that effort. Katarina Johnson-Thompson was the best of the Brits in action, the multi-eventer jumping 6.75m (-0.8) with her final attempt to move up to fourth.

Barbora Spotakova saved her best until last; launching the javelin out to 68.26m in the final round to take the full eight Diamond League points on offer and break the meeting record. With Sara Kolak leading from round two before extending her lead with a third round 67.83m, she looked as though she’d done enough before Spotakova’s final round fling.