By Steven Mills, April 22nd 2008
A large British squad were in action at the Mt. SAC Relays, as Christine Ohuruogu and Kelly Sotherton open their outdoor campaigns
Mt. SAC Relays, Los Angeles, April 17-20
A strong contingent of British athletes made the trip to the USA, and put in strong early season performances, which certainly augurs well for when the summer season starts in earnest.
Having struggled with injuries since the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Martyn Rooney took an impressive victory over 400m, in blustery conditions. The national junior record-holder clocked 45.88, to defeat the likes of 2007 World Championships American team member, Lionel Larry (third in 46.24), the two-time European Indoor champion from Ireland, David Gillick (fourth in 46.39) and Rooney’s team-mate, Graham Hedman (fifth in 46.99).
World 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu stepped down in distance to focus on speedwork. At the Long Beach State University meeting, April 19, Ohuruogu posted slightly wind-assisted clockings of 11.49 (2.6 m/s) for 100m and 23.03 (2.2 m/s) for 200m.
However, at the Mt. SAC Relays, the Commonwealth Games champion just participated in the 200m, finishing fifth in 23.49, behind the Olympic champion, Veronica Campbell-Bowen (22.66).
Also doubling up were Eden Francis and Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist, Kelly Sotherton. At the Long Beach State University event, the UK junior discus record-holder won the shot put with an effort of 15.35m and in fourth place, Sotherton stretched out to a new PB of 14.66m. The following day, the duo were 10th and 11th respectively, throwing 14.42m and 14.08m.
Natasha Danvers made her debut at her speciality, after recent PBs at 400m and 800m. The world, European and Olympic finalist was second in a solid 55.91, trailing American star Lashinda Demus (55.45), who is returning to competition after giving birth to twins. Danvers doubled up, placing third in the 100m hurdles in 13.25, placing narrowly behind the Commonwealth Games champion, Brigitte Foster-Hylton (13.18).
In the 100m, Tyrone Edgar finished fifth, clocking a slightly wind-assisted 10.16, with Christian Malcolm eighth (10.39), behind the winner Mickey Grimes (10.11).
Elsewhere in the sprints, European and Commonwealth 110m hurdles medallist Andy Turner was third in a windy 13.64 and Kim Wall was second in the 400m in 53.21.
There were very notable lifetime bests in the distance events for three athletes. Marilyn Okoro stepped up to the 1500m, lowering her lifetime best to 4:20.88, to finish seventh. Barbara Parker clocked a substantial PB of 15:42.16 for the 5000m and even more impressive was Scott Overall’s 5000m performance. The American-based-British athlete clocked a very fast 13:28.33, in a high calibre race.
Michael Johnson Invitational, Waco, April 19
BOTH Sanya Richards and Jeremy Wariner posted victories at this meeting. Richards, the American record-holder and two-time Golden League jackpot winner sailed to a 50.47 clocking, whilst Wariner, the Olympic and world 400m champion clocked a very solid 44.56, in his first 400m race since February.
European 10000m Cup, Antalya, April 12
FOR the second time in three seasons, the European 10000m Cup was held in Turkey as the home crowd had much to celebrate.
In the men’s race, former Ethiopian Selim Bayrak was the runaway winner, cruising to a Turkish record and a PB of 27:47.75, in his first ever attempt at the distance. A long way adrift, Spain’s Carles Castillejo placed second in 28:07.55 but the pre-race favourite, Juan Carlos de la Ossa, was the real disappointment, fading to fifth in 28:55.58, after looking impressive at the World Cross Country Championships. Overall, the standard was not strong as only 11 athletes dipped under the 30-minute barrier.
It looked likely that the 31-minute barrier would have been broken in the women’s race, such was the standard of the top athletes but disappointingly, only two women recorded sub-32 minute clockings. World 10000m silver medallist Elvan Abeylegesse won this title for the third consecutive season, clocking a rather tepid 31:36.33.
One of the fastest athletes of all-time, Lornah Kiplagat struggled and the world cross-country champion last year will have to run again at this distance to achieve the Olympic qualifying mark, as her time of 31:53.72 was not fast enough but one of a few athletes to come away with a good result was Kiplagat’s Dutch team-mate, Hilda Kibet, who clocked a PB of 32:05:49, fresh from a top five finish in Edinburgh.
Among the names to struggle were former world and Olympic champion, Fernanda Ribeiro, who failed to finish.
Kenyan African Championships Trials, Nairobi
SOME of the star names in Kenyan athletics warmed up for the African Championships in Addis Ababa next week, with top performances at the trials.
The impressive athlete of the day was the precocious David Rudisha. The 19-year-old rose to prominence last season, winning on the Grand Prix circuit in Lausanne, Zurich and Brussels and was surprisingly ranked first by Track and Field News rankings at 800m.
Rudisha sailed through 400m in 49.5 and battled home to a very impressive victory, holding off a late challenge from Asbel Kiprop. Both athletes ran very fast, at 1:44.38 and 1:44.99 respectively.
At the age of 18, Kiprop is also a huge talent. The world 1500m fourth placer in 2007 won his seasonal opener in Reduit at 3000m and took world junior cross-country title (8km) on home soil last season, to show his range.
Elsewhere, Isaac Songok won the 5000m in 13:28.4 and Nancy Jebet won the 1500m in 4:13.0.