Mixed day for Team GB on second day at Crystal Palace as Goldie Sayers sets new British record and Phillips Idowu and Tiffany Porter withdraw through injury
Source: Barnaby Read
A second day of persistent rain failed to sour a lively crowd at Crystal Palace but the withdrawals of Phillips Idowu and Tiffany Porter through injury certainly comes as a huge worry to Team GB just two weeks away from the start of the Olympic Games. Idowu withdrew from the men’s triple jump event, which was won by the USA’s Christian Taylor with a jump of 17.41m, after feeling ‘tightness’ in his hip which was later attributed as an injury to his oblique muscle in his left hip. It is a fresh injury and his withdrawal was ‘precautionary’ with the Olympics just around the corner. The major worry for Idowu is that he has only competed in “three comps this year”, as noted by the BBC’s Ollie Williams and Jonathan Edwards. Idowu played down the severity of his injury by tweeting, “Hey guys, sorry to have to pull out of #ALGP, slight bit of muscle tightness. I will be fine in a day or 2. Hope the other jumpers put on a great show for you. See you 7th aug. thanks for your support”. Following the apparent disagreement with coach Charles van Comenee over the jumper’s fitness, it will be interesting to see how Idowu holds up between now and his event at the Games.
Speaking after the event Taylor said, “I wouldn't be out here if I didn't believe I had the strength and the talent to do it. At The Games it could take anything to win, it could be 18.50m or it could be 17.50. It's really whoever is willing to put their best foot forward and I'm going to do whatever it takes.
“Sunny or rain you have to work through it, everyone is going through it. You're going to have headwinds, you're going to have tailwinds. It's part of the sport. I just try to block all that out and take care of what I need to do. I need to focus on running through the board and my positioning. I just focus on what I can control.
“Phillips is a great guy, we were joking before and I was talking to him. Obviously when we're on the track we've got to take care of business but outside we're all good”.
Porter is the big concern who pulled up in tears with a back injury after her 100m hurdle event although her injury has been described as a ‘back niggle’. The sure discomfort on Porter’s face was clear to see which poses a major question over her fitness for the Games. The women’s 100m hurdles threw up one of the finest races of the evening as the USA’s Kellie Wells pipped crowd favourite Sally Pearson of Australia to first place by just .02 seconds. Wells finished with a time of 12.57 seconds to lay her claims for Olympic gold this summer. Prior to today’s race Pearson had won 31 of her last 32 races and remains the favourite for gold this summer although this win will do wonders for Wells’ confidence.
Goldie Sayers, meanwhile, provided the performance of the night by winning the women’s javelin event with a British record throw of 66.17 metres. Sayers’ effort was more than two metres better than second-placed Czech Republic world record holder and current Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova. Sayers was clearly delighted with her efforts, and rightfully so, collecting the $5,000 prize and promising that ‘the drinks are on me’ as she celebrates her 30th birthday on Monday.
After the event Sayers said, “It was one of my best days on an athletics track and it’s my 30th birthday on Monday so it’s a nice present. It’s been a long time coming and it’s very good timing but as all athletes say, there’s definitely a lot more left in there so I just need to find how to get it out at the (Olympic) Games when it matters”.
Christine Ohuruogo brought the house down in similar fashion to Mo Farah did on day one with a curtain closing victory in the 400m event with a time of 50.42, a season’s best and impressive marker ahead of the London Games. Ohuruogo won in driving rain and was roared on by a patriotic crowd that showed encouraging signs for support of Team GB when their athletes take the Olympic stage this 'summer'.
“I just wanted to sharpen up for London – I’ve done all the work so I’m happy that I can take something like that away. I knew I had a good chance, I saw her (Montsho) look back so then I thought, ‘I’ve got you now’. It’s good that I put the race together and came out with a strong time”, said Ohuruogo.
Elsewhere, Team GB athletes gave valiant performances ahead of the Olympics with Andrew Osagie finishing third in the 800m, Robbie Grabarz and Tom Parsons second and third respectively in the high jump with Yamile Aldama finishing third in the women’s triple jump and Barbara Parker also taking third in the grueling 3000m steeplechase. Ross Murray also claimed second in the one mile event in between the Kenyan pairing of Silas Kiplagat in first and Caleb Mwangani Ndiku in third.
Kirani James did not disappoint in the 400m event as the man from Grenada won by .10 seconds ahead of Christopher Brown in second with a time of 44.85 while in the 200m race Frenchman Cristophe Lemaitre's superb finish saw him come home in first place with a time of 19.91, a seasons best.
As the Olympics nears, Crystal Palace certainly put on a festival of athletics and the nation seems to be embracing Olympic fever with the Aviva London Grand Prix providing a tantalising warm-up to the much anticipated Games. With strong performances from some of Team GB’s premier athletes, their form just days away from, ‘the big one’, is promising ahead of London 2012.