Led by Zharnel Hughes’ (GBR, coach: Glen Mills, club: Shaftesbury Barnet) astonishing take down of the long-standing British 200m record, the world’s best showed up in style on a day of world-class athletics at the sold-out London Athletics Meet in Stratford, London.
On a day which once again showed that London helps athletes bring their very best, continent records also fell in the women’s 400m hurdles, men’s 200m, women’s 5000m and women’s 800m ahead of the World Athletics Championships in Budapest next month.
And as one of the most-discussed races pre-meet, the men’s 200m lived up to its billing in some style, with each of the top three producing astonishing runs of their own.
Coming out on top, reigning world champion Noah Lyles (USA) showed all of his class to slingshot off the 200m bend and produce a scintillating 19.47 (+1.6m/s), a huge meeting record and the quickest time of 2023 as yet.
In an impressive run from lane eight, Letsile Tebogo (BOT) ran an African Record and huge personal best of 19.50 to take second, with Hughes then following over in 19.73 to send his home crowd into raptures and claim the second of two iconic British sprinting records.
Reflecting on a history-making period of his career, Hughes said: “I did it again – I predicted it I wrote it down that exact time this morning, at about 9.30am. I wanted to get the British record here on home soil and I did it. I don’t care about winning, as long as I execute the time that my coach wanted and get the British record. We’ve got things I can work on, but I executed my race and that was to get to 60m as fast as possible then just maintain from there. I think Noah (Lyles) was playing off me slightly; he was ready to chase me down!”
Straight after on the track – and also starring huge home interest in global medallists Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie, Blackheath & Bromley) and Daryll Neita (Marco Airale, Cambridge Harriers) – came a stacked women’s 100m.
In an exciting run just shy of her own British 100m record, Asher-Smith produced a brilliant season’s best run of 10.85 (+1.2) to claim second behind the fast-finishing Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV) and her meeting record time of 10.73.
Asher-Smith got out brilliantly from the gun, leading at half-way before being run down by the Ivorian. Holding her form and running through the line, her time is the quickest outside of a major championship and serves as a hugely positive marker heading into Budapest.
After claiming the British 200m title two weeks ago, Daryll Neita stepped back down in distance to clock 10.96, a season’s best of her own, to finish fourth and also lay down yet another impressive time ahead of aiming to double up in Hungary.
Post-race, Asher-Smith said: “I am always disappointed not to win but this shows I am building and, given, I have had two races in one weekend then it bodes really well. Patience is something I am not very good at. I thought I was getting better at it but maybe not! But it is all about the end of August and Budapest which isn’t a long way away, so I am excited. I managed to see the end of the men’s 200m and I am so pleased for Zharnel (Hughes). British sprinting is doing so well but also look at Jemma (Reekie), Keely (Hodgkinson), Jaz (Sawyers). The team is looking good.”
Bringing the curtain down on the meeting, Jemma Reekie (Jon Bigg, Kilbarchan) toppled a world class field to take a memorable victory in the women’s 800m.
Timing her move beautifully, Reekie kept something in reserve and struck with 80m to go, driving past both Natoya Goule-Topping (JAM) and Halimah Nakaayi (UGA) and then surging to the line in a meeting record time of 1:57.30, the third quickest of her career, and delighting a raucous home crowd.
Reekie’s decisive move may well have played a part in helping many athletes in the field to best-ever performances, one of those being Britain’s Katie Snowden (Dan Stepney, Herne Hill), the British champion setting a huge personal best of 1:58.00, revising her previous best of 1:58.72. The event was unfortunately without Keely Hodgkinson (GBR) after the Olympic silver medallist fell unwell and withdrew earlier in the day.
After the race, an ecstatic Reekie said: “I wanted to give it my all today and I just decided to front run it instead.
“I think I’m in the best place I could be, happiness and training wise so I think there’s nothing to lose in Budapest now, I’ll be going there to chase a medal. I’m back to where I should be so I’m definitely going there to try and medal. I know I can go in and shake things up a bit, I’ve got a little bit less pressure as I didn’t medal last year so I’ll just go out there and try to get one.”
On the backstraight, and taking place on a raised runway in front of the backstraight, the USA’s Quanesha Burks had the competition won from round one after going out to a personal best of 6.98m (+0.6), a distance no athlete could get near on the day.
There were notable showings for both British athletes in the event, European indoor champion Jazmin Sawyers (Aston Moore, City of Stoke) producing a best of 6.67m (-1.6) in round four to show decent form heading into Budapest, while Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Aston Moore, Liverpool Harriers) leapt to a season’s best of 6.60 (+1.2) in round four to finish fifth behind Sawyers’ fourth.
The only athlete to go clear at 2.35m, the USA’s JuVaughn Harrison edged out Mutaz-Essa Barshim (QAT) in a fine men’s high jump competition. After being matched up to 2.33m by the Qatar star, American Harrison pulled out a 2.35m to leave Barshim in his wake.
In British interest, Joel Clarke-Khan (Robbie Grabarz, Thames Valley) enjoyed the best competition of his life, feeding off every cheer in the London Stadium to match his personal best and finish joint-third alongside Thomas Carmoy of Belgium.
Capturing the crowd’s attention after needing a third attempt to go clear at 2.24m, Clarke-Khan went over 2.27m at the second time of asking to send the 400m bend stand wild.
In the men’s shot put, world record holder Ryan Crouser (USA) unleashed a monster 23.07m throw in round five to ultimately blow away the competition.
Crouser had enjoyed some entertaining back and forth with Tom Walsh (NZ) in earlier rounds, the duo pushing each other’s distances along as the competition grew. There would be no response to Crouser’s 23m-plus effort, however, with Walsh taking second following his season’s best of 22.58m, while Joe Kovacs was third with 21.87m. Scott Lincoln (GBR, Paul Wilson, City of York) threw a best of 20.48m, finishing ninth.
Despite being the slowest out of the blocks, world record Grant Holloway (USA) hung on for yet another win in the men’s 110m hurdles, his lead one that was challenged brilliantly over the final two barriers by the fast-finishing Shunsuke Izymiya (JPN) but ultimately held good. Holloway’s winning time was 13.01 (+1.3), half a tenth clear of Izumiya’s 13.06
British champion Tade Ojora (Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) was agonisingly close to matching his personal best of 13.26, coming home in fifth with 12.37, with fellow Brit Josh Zeller (Adrian Brown, Bracknell) one place further back in 13.82.
In middle-distance action, the men’s 1500m came to a heart-thumping finish, with all to play for coming off the final bend.
Narve Gilje Nordas (NOR) took the reins with 200m to go, trying to fashion himself a strong enough lead among a blur of legs, only to be overhauled by Yared Nuguse (USA). Running wide in a bid to charge through, British champion Neil Gourley (Ben Thomas, Giffnock North) just ran out of a track as Nuguse dipped for the win ahead of Nordas. Gourley was, however, rewarded with a superb personal best of 3:30.60.
Compatriots Elliot Giles (Jon Bigg, Birchfield) and Matthew Stonier (Sonia and Chris McGeorge, Invicta East Kent) got in on the personal best act, too, both setting huge revisions to their previous quickest times with 3:30.92 and 3:31.30 respectively.
Returning to London and the scene of his 400m world title in 2017, world record holder Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) continued to run himself into form ahead of Budapest with victory in 44.37.
Put under immense pressure down the straight by Bryce Deadman (USA), the South African held out to dip over in the nick of time, Deadman clocking 44.40 after a brilliant late charge from inside van Niekerk.
A welcome sight after he was forced to pull up with injury at the national championships, Matt Hudson-Smith (Gary Evans, Birchfield) took two-tenths off his season’s best with 44.72 for fourth behind Vernon Norwood (USA), whilst British champion from two weeks ago, Alex Haydock-Wilson (Benke Blonkvist, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) ran 45.59 from lane one for an 8th place finish.
The women’s 400m hurdles saw the imperious Femke Bol (NED) blow the competition away on her London debut, streaking away to set a blistering European record of 51.45, the time also the quickest this year. Bol’s margin of victory was some two seconds and came with an assortment of other records, including both a meeting record, and a Diamond League record.
The fight for the second went to the wire, Janieve Russell (JAM) pipping Shamier Little (USA), 53.75 to 53.76. Running from lane seven, British champion Jessie Knight (Marina Armstrong, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow) produced a brilliant run to match her personal best time of 54.09 for fifth.
The women’s 3000m steeplechase saw records fall and a scorching time needed to take the win, Kenya’s Commonwealth champion Jackline Chepkoech getting the better of her compatriot and namesake Beatrice Chepkoech to run a five-second personal best, clocking 8:57.35 and the quickest time produced this year.
Beatrice followed in for second, crossing over in 9:04.34, with Britain’s Aimee Pratt (Sale Harriers Manchester) producing one of the best showings of her career with 9:16.10 for third, a time narrowly outside of her current personal best of 9:15.64.
Returning to the capital on the back of a phenomenal win at the London Marathon back in May, Sifan Hassan might have thought she had the 5000m wrapped up, only to be reeled in by Ethiopian star and Olympic bronze medallist Gudaf Tsegai, the 26-year-old pulling away for the win while holding off Kenya’ Beatrice Chebet, with both athletes setting personal bests.
For Tsegai, the win came folded in with a meeting record and one-second personal best, her time of 14:12.29 edging out Chebet’s huge new best of 14:12.92, a personal best by over twenty seconds as she took a scalp in fending off Hassan’s attempt to bite back and reclaim a top-two finish.
Hassan’s time for third was a record of her own, however, with 14:13.42 breaking her own European record mark by close to ten seconds. Such was its quality; the race also saw a world junior record for Medina Eisa (ETH) with 14:16.54. British representatives Megan Keith (Ross Cairns, Inverness) and Jess Warner-Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn) produced performances to proud of, running 14.56.98 (PB) and 15:06.21 respectively.
In the women’s pole vault, the spoils went to Wilma Murto (FIN) on account of a cleaner scorecard over Katie Moon (USA). The winning mark of the day, Murto went clear at 4.80m at the second time of asking, Moon needing all three attempts.
After a sparkling performance in Manchester two weekends ago, Molly Caudery (Stuart Caudery, Thames Valley) finished eighth following a best of 4.51m. Sadly Holly Bradshaw (Scott Simpson, Blackburn) retired after feeling discomfort after a first attempt at 4.36m.
The first Diamond League event of the session, reigning Olympic champion Daniel Stahl (SWE) made the best of his only two legal throws on the day to come out on top with 67.03m.
Stahl was pushed all the way by Matthew Denny, the Australian producing a season’s best of 66.77m in round four to keep Stahl sweating on the win. Having only managed one legal throw of 64.89m from his first threw attempts, Stahl mustered 67.03m, still some distance down on his best so far this year, a mark which ultimately held for the win on the day.
Slovakia’s Kristjan Ceh was third with 66.02m, while Britain’s Lawrence Okoye (Zane Duquemin, Croydon) finished sixth courtesy of a 62.59m in round three.
Offering a last-chance saloon for many of Britain’s athletes to clinch the world qualifying mark ahead of the window closing at midnight this evening, the men’s 800m delivered on its slot in the programme in some style.
Chasing the magic number of 1:44.70, the all-British field were paced through 400m in 49.7 by American Erik Sowinski. Stepping off at 600m to leave the field on a clear charge to home, Max Burgin (Ian Burgin, Halifax) led the field coming into the home straight, the British bronze medallist from two weeks ago one of those chasing the time for Budapest.
Pressured by British silver medallist Ben Pattison (Dave Ragan, Basingstoke & Mid Hants), Burgin kept strong, upright and focused to drive for the line, maintaining a gap of some metres to cross over in 1:43.85, a huge season’s best and a time well within the standard for Budapest. Coming in closely behind him, Pattison ensured he got what he came for, setting a notable half-second personal best of 1:44.02 to also go within the standard.
Behind the pair came a string of season and personal bests, with Alex Botterill (City of York) producing the quickest time of his life with 1:44.75 for third ahead of Guy Learmonth, his season’s best of 1:44.80 good for fourth.
Further down the field, there were personal bests for Thomas Randolph (Craig Winrow, Tamworth) and Ethan Hussey (Andrew Henderson, Leeds City), their times 1:44.88 and 1:44.96 respectively.
Britain’s quadruple medallist at the World Para Athletics Championships last week, Sammi Kinghorn (Rodger Harkins, Red Star) returned to home soil with a flourish as she made a late decisive move to win the women’s mixed classification 800m wheelchair race.
Pushed hard by Belgium’s Léa Bayekula, Kinghorn nipped through for the lead on the home straight and never looked back, clocking 1:46.57 for the win to Bayekula’s 1:46.85.
Behind the pair, double T34 world champion Hannah Cockroft (Paul Moseley, Leeds City) took third in 1:47.11 on a memorable return to the Stadium where she has won so much silverware.
Making up further British interest, Eden Rainbow-Cooper (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) clocked 1:51.78 for fifth, while Mel Woods (Rodger Harkins, Red Star) was sixth in 1:52.07, and Fabienne Andre (Jenny Archer, Weir Archer Academy) seventh in 2:12.93.
It went down to the wire in the men’s 1500m wheelchair, with Nathan Maguire (Ste Hoskins, Kirkby AC) narrowly edging out world medallist Danny Sidbury (Christine Parsloe, Sutton & District), 3:14.01 to 3:14.02 on the line.
Offering a great opportunity for a further host of para athletics athletes to gain experience racing on the biggest stages, Michael McCabe (Christine Parsloe, Sutton & District) secured third with 3:16.89.
Fresh from medal-winning exploits at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, Sophie Hahn (Leon Baptiste, Charnwood) took the win in the mixed-classification women’s ambulant 100m, her time of 12.51 (-0.2) seeing her romp home by some margin.
Victoria Levett (Hyndburn) matched her personal best of 13.11 for second, while there was a huge personal best for Maddie Down (Dominic McNeillis, Halesowen) as she ran 13.12 for third.
On the race a returning to the stadium in which she starred five years ago, Hahn said: The London Stadium is incredible, thank you so much to everyone who’s bought a ticket – you guys really get behind us and we’ve put down some good times. I felt nervous because this is the biggest crowd since London 2017, so I tried to find myself some calm and the rest would follow. I absolutely loved it and it’s so nice to be back here.”
In the men’s equivalent, world T47 100m bronze medallist Kevin Santos (Mike Utting, City of Norwich) used the sell-out crowd as fuel to produce his best ever run, clocking a huge personal best of 10.78 (+0.3) for the win ahead of T12 100m world bronze medallist Zac Shaw’s (Leon Baptise, Cleethorpes) 10.88.
Long jumper turned sprinter Zak Skinner (Aston Moore, Loughborough) was third in 11.04, with Thomas Young (Joe McDonnell, Loughborough) fourth with 11.12, enough to pip Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker’s (Nat Senior, Newham & Essex Beagles) 11.13 in fifth.
The opening event of proceedings, the mixed-classification men’s ambulant 1500m saw race leadership change a number of times over the opening laps, before recently crowned T20 world champion Ben Sandilands (Steven Doig, Fife) took control and surged away for the win in 3:52.95
Sandilands’ training partner Owen Miller got up for second in 3:55.54, with Miller followed in by Luke Nuttall (Sonia and Chris McGeorge, Charnwood) in 3:58.55.
The first of two sprint relays on track, and featuring two different Great Britain & Northern Ireland teams, the men’s 4x100m saw Japan come out on top after a fine final handover and anchor leg showing bought their quartet home in 37.80, a world lead.
Great Britain’s two teams made up places two and three behind the Japanese, with the quartet of Jeremiah Azu (Marco Airale, Cardiff)), Zharnel Hughes, Jona Efoloko (Clarence Callender, Sale Harriers Manchester) and Tommy Ramdhan (Bexley) clocking 38.00 exactly ahead of GB&NI’s second quartet of Adam Gemili (Marco Airale, Blackheath & Bromley), Oliver Bromby (Southampton), Richard Kilty (Gateshead) and Joe Ferguson (Lewis Samuel, Sheffield & Dearne), who ran 38.14.
Following on directly after, there were third and fourth place finishes for Britain’s two women’s teams as the Netherlands took the win ahead of USA.
Led round to 42.59, Britain’s A team was made up by Annie Tagoe (Thames Valley), Imani Lansiquot (Ryan Freckleton, Sutton & District), Bianca Williams (Linford Christie, Thames Valley) and Kristal Awuah (Matthew Thomas, Herne Hill). The second quartet – European U23 champions – of Cassie-Ann Pemberton (Clarence Callender, Birchfield Harriers), Amy Hunt (Joe McDonnell, Charnwood), Alyson Bell (Glasgow Jaguars) and Aleeya Sibbons (Coral Nourrice, Newham & Essex Beagles) clocked 42.92.