By Ros Satar
British Athletics Grand Prix, Birmingham
British Olympic stars took to the boards at the National Indoor Area, Birmingham as part of the British Athletics Grand Prix Series on Saturday 16th March.
For many, it was a chance to gain those all-important qualifying standards for next month’s European Indoor Championships in Göteborg, Sweden.
Dwain Chambers failed to come through the heats of the Men’s 60m heats.
A back injury had kept him out of the National Championships in Sheffield the weekend before, and he failed to keep up with the pace set by Kim Collins (SKN).
Nigel Levine set his marker for the European Indoor Championships next month, winning the Men’s 400m, beating Trinidad’s Lalonde Gordon, with fellow Brit Richard Strachan.
Tiffany Porter was edged into 3rd place in a blanket finish for the Women’s 60m Hurdles heats with Danielle Carruthers and Loreal Smith from the USA finishing ahead of her.
The ever-cheerful Katarina Johnson-Thompson was happy to be at the event, but having not received an invitation to compete in the European Indoors will join her fellow heptathlete Jessica Ennis in focussing on the outdoor season.
Holly Bleasdale set a season’s best and moved up to the longer 4.6m poles and will compete next week in Sweden ahead of the European Indoor Championships.
Shara Proctor won the women’s Long Jump with a season’s best of 6.78m
The Men’s 1500m was won by Morocco’s Abdelaati Iguider, but Chris Warburton and Charlie Grice both ran personal bests, to get themselves under the qualifying standard for the European Indoor Championships.
Hannah England ran a season’s best in the Women’s 1500m but all eyes were on the youngest of the Dibaba sisters, Genzebe, who finished just outside World Record pace to claim an All Comers’ Record.
The Women’s 3000m was filled with best times, with winner Helen Clitheroe winning with a season’s best, and personal bests for fellow Brits, Lauren Howarth, Eilish McColgan, Emily Stewart and Jessica Judd.
Asha Philip was looking to build on her personal best from the UK Indoor Championships, held in Sheffield last weekend, but it was Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure who took the honours with an All Comers’ Record of 6.99s
Double Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce was running indoors for the first time, and was just edged out, at 7.09s but her second personal best of the day.
Philip came joint 6th with Jamaica’s Sherri Ann Brooks, and Ukraine’s Mariya Ryemyen on 7.25s (0.15s off the personal best she set in Sheffield).
The biggest drama of the day came in the Men’s 800m as Michael Rimmer tried to get around Mukhtar Mohammed but in the process clipped Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki sending him crashing to the ground.
Rimmer’s assessment was that he had been finishing the strongest of the field, and had nowhere else to go, and held on to the top spot in the results.
There were personal bests for Rimmer, Mohammed and Guy Learmonth who finished 5th.
Andrew Osagie (4th) and Joe Thomas (6th) came away with season’s bests.
There was not as much drama in the Women’s 800m which saw Jenny Meadows put the disappointment of missing the London Olympics behind her, holding off fellow Brit Lynsey Sharp for 2nd place.
There was comfort, though for Sharp in 3rd, who gained the qualification time for Göteborg.
The Women’s 400m was led from the start by USA’s Natasha Hastings, who recorded a 2013 world best time, leaving Perri Shakes Drayton and Eilidh Child to fight it out with 200m to go.
Shakes Drayton (51.37s) just got the better of Child (51.50s) in the closing stages, with both recording personal bests.
Back in field, Olympic Bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz finished behind Russian Aleksey Dmitrik at a height of 2.29m.
In the Women’s Triple Jump, there was disappointment for Yamile Aldama who finished outside the qualifying distance for Göteborg with a season’s best of 13.91m.
The penultimate track event was the Men’s 60m hurdles – won by USA’s Omo Osaghae (7.51s).
Brits Gianni Frankis (7.70s) and Allan Scott (7.74) both finished outside the UK Athletics qualifying standards of 7.65s.
The final track event saw double Gold Olympic Medallist Mo Farah take to the boards, starting his 2013 campaign.
Farah picked up the pace with 9 laps to go, knowing that some of the field would be looking for the 7m50s qualifying standard.
The only man who could stick with his pace was France’s Florian Carvalho, as the strain of the pace was showing on the athletes strung out behind.
With a kick, and a chance to give the home crowd a bit of a show, and Farah stopped the clock dead on 7m42s.
Agonisingly, for Lee Emanuel (3rd) he finished just outside of the qualifying standard (7m51.46s).
Farah has no plans for competing in Sweden, and will be flying out to the USA for the New Orleans half marathon, before looking to run half of the London Marathon course.
The British Athletics performance of the day went to Shara Proctor with a Women’s Long Jump of 6.78m.
The European Indoor Championships will be held in Göteborg, Sweden from 1-3 March 2013.