Jessica Ennis-Hill Returns
The seventh Great City Games in Manchester produced several outstanding performances, South Africa’s LJ van Zyl equalling Andy Turner’s world best time for 200m hurdles on a straight track and Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith claiming the prized scalp of Flying Dutch woman Dafne Schippers over 150 metres.
Jessica Ennis-Hill was greeted by a huge roar as she lined up for the 100m hurdles, her first race since July 2013, with her nine-month old son Reggie among the 25,000 crowd lining the pop-up track on a cold, damp afternoon on Deansgate.
It was a throwback to London’s Olympic Stadium on the unforgettable night that Ennis-Hill and Rutherford struck gold in 2012 – and the 29-year-old Sheffield athlete responded with a more than respectable performance against a trio of world class hurdles specialists.
The Olympic heptathlon champion could not match the speed and power of Tiffany Porter, the European champion and British record holder for the 100m hurdles.
Ennis-Hill gritted her teeth and gave European indoor silver medallist Lucy Hatton a close battle for second place before taking third ahead of European indoor bronze medallist Serita Solomon.
Speaking after the event Jessica Ennis-Hill said, “It just feels really good to be back, it was such a thrill to be back on the start line, soaking up the atmosphere and having that crowd behind me giving me such a big cheer, it was a nice feeling.
I hit a hurdle, which slowed me down a bit, I was disappointed with my time but you always want to do better. It was a starting point and I’m happy to come away with such a positive performance which I can build on.”
Newly crowned European indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty had to settle for second place behind seasoned US sprinter Mike Rodgers. Rodgers, the 2010 world indoor 60m silver medallist, got off to a cracking start and held his advantage to the line, winning in 10.25 seconds.
Kilty clocked 10.29 seconds as runner-up, with 39-year-old Kim Collins of St Kitts & Nevis third in 10.33 seconds, Kilty’s British team-mate Chijindu Ujah fourth in 10.35 seconds.
Britons Danny Talbot and James Ellington both fought hard but had to give way to Dutchman Churandy Martina. The pace and power that took Martina to the European 200m title in Zurich told in the final 30 metres as he pulled ahead to win in 15.21 seconds.
Talbot took second place in 15.21 seconds, with Ellington third in 15.37 seconds. Curtis Mitchell, the 2013 World Championship 200m bronze medallist from the USA, pulled up clutching a hamstring and failed to finish.
Men’s Hurdles 110m
Cuban Orlando Ortega, sixth in the Olympic final in London three years ago, shaded victory from Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt of the USA. Both men were timed at 13.32 seconds, but Ortega was given the verdict.
Britain’s Lawrence Clarke, fourth at London 2012, finished an isolated third in 13.57 seconds. American David Oliver, the reigning world champion, smashed into the eighth hurdle and injured himself, limping across the line fourth and last in 22.96 seconds.
Men’s Hurdles 200m
There was no catching former Commonwealth 400m hurdles champion LJ van Zyl, the South African got clear of his rivals straight out of the blocks and pulled clear, winning in 22.10 seconds.
His time equalled the world best for the rarely contested event, set by Britain’s Andy Turner in Manchester in 2011. Speaking after the race Van Zyl said, “Just being in the same race as Felix Sanchez inspired me, it gives me goose bumps on the start line, lining up alongside him.”
Felix Sanchez, the 2004 and 2012 Olympic 400m hurdles champion from the Dominican Republic, finished third in 23.05 seconds. Ray Stewart of the USA was the man who got closest to the flying van Zyl, finishing runner-up in 22.85 seconds. Britain’s Seb Rodger was fourth in 23.08 seconds.
Men’s Long Jump
Greg Rutherford proved to be a different class winning the City Games long jump with his first round jump of 8.01 metres. It was the only 8 metre jump of the competition, getting Britain’s Olympic, European and Commonwealth champion off to a flying start.
This season Rutherford will be looking to add the outdoor World Championship Gold to his medal collection. Speaking after the competition Rutherford said, “Initially I was little bit frustrated that I didn’t jump well, but at ten degrees into a headwind, it’s probably one of the best jumps of my life to be honest.”
Mike Hartfield (USA) took second place with 7.95 metres ahead of Briton Dan Bramble who took third with 7.80 metres. British indoor record holder Chris Tomlinson was fourth with a best of 7.59m. American Mikese Morse finished fifth 7.43 metres and 2013 World Championship silver medallist Ignisious Gaisah of the Netherlands sixth with 7.32 metres.
Jessica Young, silver medallist over 60m at the 2015 US indoor championships, got off to a fine start and held on to win by 0.04 seconds from compatriot English Gardner in 11.33 seconds.
The battle of the British sprinters was won by European 100m bronze medallist Ashleigh Nelson, who edged third place in 11.58 seconds, 0.03 seconds ahead of Commonwealth 200m bronze medallist Bianca Williams.
The one-two from the European Indoor 60m final in Prague in March was reversed as young british speed merchant Dina Asher-Smith turned the tables of Dafne Schippers.
Asher-Smith surprised the Flying Dutchwoman with a flying start and held off the late challenge from the European outdoor 100m and 200m champion, winning by 0.13 seconds in 16.82 seconds.
Speaking after the race Dina Asher-Smith said, “I always knew Dafne would come back at me, she is such a strong runner, I’m just happy that I managed to hang on.”
Asher-Smith’s GB team-mate Anyika Onoura was third in 17.80 seconds and Stacey-Ann Smith fourth in 17.90 seconds.
Women’s Hurdles 100m
Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill dusted off her running kit and returned to top-class action with a respectable third-placed finish, clocking 13.14 seconds. Tiffany Porter, who last year regained the British record from Ennis-Hill, was a clear winner in 12.86 seconds.
Speaking after the race Tiffany Porter said, “I just wanted to come here and give everybody a good show,” said the European 100m hurdles champion. Lucy Hatton, the Corby athlete who took European indoor silver in March, was second in 13.06 seconds, with British team mate and European indoor bronze medallist Serita Solomon fourth in 13.33 seconds.
Women’s Hurdles 200m
Katarina Johnson-Thompson was happy all round with her first taste of the Great City Games. The 2014 World Number One Heptathlete got off to an excellent start and built up a big lead, Johnson-Thompson might have even snatched victory had she not stumbled in the closing stages.
Meghan Beesley held on to win the race by 0.03 seconds in 25.28 seconds, which was only 0.23 seconds outside the world best time she set last year at the Manchester City Games.
Eilidh Child, the European 400m hurdles champion showed signs of early season rust finishing fourth in 26.23 seconds, with Yadisleidy Pedroso of Italy third in 26.06 seconds.
Speaking after the race Meghan Beesley said, “I think I went off quicker than I did last year but I was just losing it at the end and felt like I had nothing left.”
Whilst Katarina Johnson-Thompson said,”I think I went out a bit too steady at the start so I had to picked it up towards the end. I’m happy with my performance and I really enjoyed my first Great City Games. I really love this event.”
Women’s Pole Vault
World Indoor Champion Yarisley Silva was happy to sit out the opening height, 4.10m, as the rain, cold and particularly the gusting wind disrupted the other four vaulters. It took eleven attempts for anyone to register a clearance, Germany’s Katharina Bauer succeeding with her third attempt.
Italy’s Roberta Bruni and 2014 runner-up Kristina Gadschiew both bowed out, but NCAA Champion Melissa Gergel also nailed 4.10m at the final attempt. Gergel proceeded to clear 4.20m first time and was in the box seat until Silva succeeded at the third time of asking.
Bauer failed with one shot at 4.30m after two blanks at 4.20m and Gergel also bowed out at 4.30m. Silva, produced a Midas touch with her third attempt at 4.30m which proved to be the clincher for the Cuban, who had the bar raised to 4.50m but without any joy.
Speaking after the event Yarisley Silva said, “It was my first competition of the year and the conditions made it very difficult, I was happy to be so close to the crowd, It is a great competition I would love to have a street event like this in Havana.”
Women’s Long Jump
Dafne Schippers tested her long jump form and was content to finish runner up with 6.40 metres, the European 100m and 200m champion was only 4 centimetres shy of britain’s Commonwealth long jump silver medallist Zazmin Sawyers, who won with 6.44 metres.
Funmi Jimoh finished third with 6.33 metres, just ahead of USA team mate Chelsea Hayes 6.29 metres, Chantel Malone of the British Virgin Isles came fifth with 6.16 metres and Briton Sarah Warnock in sixth with a jump of 5.96 metres.
Speaking after the event Dafne Schippers said, “I’m happy with that performance, this was my first experience of street athletics and I thought it was amazing. I will definitely be back next year.”
Mixed Relay 2 x 100m
British duo Dina Asher-Smith and Chijindu Ujah teamed up to win this novel mixed relay event. The pair prevailed in 20.30 seconds – ahead of compatriots Bianca Williams and Richard Kilty (20.78 seconds).
The ‘All Stars’ Chantel Malone and Kim Collins came third with 21.38 seconds. Whilst USA duo Jessica Young and Mike Rodgers failed to finish as they did not get the baton round.