Great City Games (Manchester)
The 2014 City Games started with the women’s pole vault event in front of Manchester Town Hall, this years event started and finished with a casualty as German favourite Silke Spiegelburg who came fourth at London 2012 had to withdraw at the start of event due to a calf strain.
The event finished with second favourite Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou in Wythenshawe Hospital for stitches in her hand. The 2012 European bronze medallist snapped her pole in making a second attempt at 4.50m and crashed to the mat with blood streaming from her left hand.
Despite being in hospital Kiriakopoulou did enough to win the event beating German Kristina Gadschiew on countback courtesy of a second time clearance at 4.40m. In the absences of Holly Beasdale the UK was represented by Katie Byers and Sally Peake of Wales who had three close attempts at 4.40m, which would have been a Welsh record, but Peake finished in third place with a hight of 4.25m.
Yohan Blake who occasional plays cricket for Kingston Cricket Club as a fast bowler arrived in the UK this week and announced he would one day like to play cricket for Yorkshire. However the Jamaican sprinter is not yet ready to hang up in running shoe’s as he hit has opponents for six in Manchester.
Running only his fourth race after recovering from the hamstring tear that ruled him out of last year’s World Championships, Blake was a little rusty out of the blocks as he trailed 400m specialist Chris Brown (Bahamas) for the first 50 metres before going on to win the race in 14.71 seconds.
Asked whether he would be running for Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, Blake the former 100m World Champion said, “I’m just waiting to see what my agent and my coach say, I’ll probably run the 100m and the 200m it’s good to have major medals and I’m getting stronger, fitter and faster.”
Meghan Beesley made her mark in the women’s 200m hurdles, when straight from the gun she sprung off the line and left her rivals trailing in her wake before crossing the line in 25.05 seconds – 0.79 seconds clear of runner up Eilidh Child. Beesley smashed the World Best Time of 25.74 seconds set by Perri Shakes-Drayton in the BT Great CityGames Manchester a year ago.
“I can’t quite believe it” said Beesley, who almost quite athletics to become a teacher after failing to gain Olympic selection in 2012. “The 200m hurdles doesn’t get run very often and I’ve not ever run it before, so to come and run a world best first-time out is a bit of a blue.
Few British athletes have achieved the consistency shown by Christine Ohuruogu when major championship 400m medals are on the line. On the occasion of her 30th birthday, however, the reigning 400m world champion was some way short of her best in the straight 200m race.
The Londoner finished third in 24.06 seconds as her Great Britain team mate and training partner Shana Cox won in 23.28 seconds from Stacey-Ann Smith of the United States.
“I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest,” Ohuruogu said. “Training has been a bit downhill lately. I just wanted to come out and support the event because I think it’s so important for people can come out and see what is involved in top class athletics. It’s great to be here, especially on my birthday. It was in the Olympic Trials in Manchester ten years ago that I made my breakthrough.”
Andy Turner returned to his home city of Manchester to compete in the BT Great City Games where he took part in two events, in the 110 meter hurdles he finished a close second behind Lawrence Clarke, clocking 13.55 seconds to his British team-mate’s 13.51.
He then took part in the 200 meter hurdles which also featured Olympic 400 meter hurdles champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic. Turner has a history of eclipsing Sanchez at that distance in Manchester and today proved no exception as the reigning Commonwealth 110m hurdles champion surged to victory in 22.58 seconds.
Tiffany Porter, the US-born Briton who took bronze at the World Outdoor Championships last year and at the World Indoor Championships in March, continued her rich vein of form, winning the 100 meter hurdles in 12.65 seconds, a City Games record and the fourth fastest time in the world this year.
“I am really excited about how things are progressing,” said Porter, who beat two Olympic 2012 medallists from the United States, Kellie Wells finishing runner up in 12.83 seconds and Dawn Harper-Nelson crashing out at the fourth hurdle. I love competing in this event, so close to the crowd on the street. The enjoyment you get is second to none.”
There was a world best in the men’s T44 IPC 200 meter race, double World Junior Champion Felix Streng of Germany emerging as a shock winner ahead of American Jarryd Wallace in 22.56 seconds.
Marlou van Rhijn known as the “Blade Babe” surged to victory in women’s T44 IPC 100 meters with a games record 13.40 seconds, with Britain’s Laura Sugar second in 14.04 seconds.
Van Rhijn, who studies economics at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam said, “This is my second time here and it’s my favourite event, it would be cool to have an event like this in Holland, competing in the middle of the city in front of a huge crowd like this.”