The British Athletics Anniversary Games 2016 took place on the 22nd-23rd July at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. This was, for many athletes, a final opportunity to prepare for the Rio Olympics (see our feature here on the London athletes heading to Rio), or to show why they should have been on the Olympic team.
An outstanding result from the first evening was the World Record in the women’s 100m hurdles (see the BBC footage here). Keni Harrison of America pulled away from the rest of the field to win in 12.20 seconds and break the 28-year old record; it will be a shame not to see her competing at Rio due to a poor performance at the American trials. On the second day, Richard Whitehead managed to break his own T42 200m World Record, beating the rest of the field by almost a second, and the T11 200m World Record was broken by Libby Clegg.
Over the two days, British athletes performed well, with a standout performance from Laura Muir in the women’s 1500m race; streaking away in the last 200m to win the race and smash the British National Record for the event. Muir was quoted as saying, “Breaking the British record blows my mind a bit, I haven’t run a fast 1500m this year so I wanted to go out there and show the world what I can do. And it’s not just any record. It’s Kelly Holmes’s Olympic gold medal record”.
Further exciting performances on the first day were: Jessica Ennis-Hill in the women’s 100m hurdles, with her second fastest time ever of 12.76 seconds, and UEL graduate, Adam Gemili coming in third in the 200m. The latter though was slightly overshadowed by Usain Bolt’s performance, especially due to recent fears that Bolt would not be competing at Rio. At the start of the first evening, the British 4×100 women’s relay team (including King’s student, Dina Asher-Smith) produced an impressive world-leading time to win the event in 41.81 seconds; and this feat was matched by the British men’s team on the second day. Other success stories from the second day were St Mary’s Graduate, Mo Farah, running a world-leading time to win the 5km almost 100m clear of Brit Andrew Butchart (second place), with Farah stating ‘I’ve never been in better shape going into a championships’. The men’s 400m was won by Brit Matthew Hudson-Smith, after a surprise false start by Martyn Rooney, which left him out of the competition. Meanwhile, in the women’s 800m, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke of Britain ran well in a close-run race to come first, followed by Lynsey Sharp of Britain in second and Molly Ludlow, USA, in third.
In the field events, Katarina Johnson-Thompson showed that she could be a strong contender at Rio, achieving a new personal best (1.95m) in the high jump and winning the long jump with 6.84m. Jess Ennis-Hill had slightly less success in the long jump, coming 7th, though fellow Brit Shara Proctor managed to pick up 2nd place.
Slightly more disappointingly, UCL alumni, Christine Ohuruogu and Eilidh Doyle seemed to struggle in the 400m and 400m hurdles, respectively, but both are strong seasoned athletes who will hopefully use this performance to spur them on to greater things. Andrew Pozzi faced some difficulties as well, running a new personal best into a headwind in the 110m hurdles heats, before dropping out of the final due to cramp – the exact same problem that beset him in the European Championships earlier this month.
Athletes from other nations were also present in force, with Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat winning the Emsley Carr Mile in 3:54.04 and Renaud Lavillenie continuing his unbroken streak in the arena for pole vault. Dafne Schippers proved again that she stands a strong chance at the Olympics by winning the women’s 200m.
Overall, an exciting display of athletics which sets expectations high for the Rio Olympics next month.
Want to see some of the weekend’s action?
See highlights from day 1 here:
and day 2 here: