AMERICANS SHINE ON OPENING NIGHT OF SAINSBURY’S ANNIVERSARY GAMES
By Chris Lotsbom
(26-Jul) — America had a night to remember in the distance disciplines
at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games IAAF Diamond League Meeting,
contested here at Olympic Stadium in front of 65,000 spectators. Of
four events contested at 800m and up, Americans took home three wins
and nine podium positions, more than any other nation competing.
Rowbury ran a world lead in the 3000m, a pair of Patriots in Nick
Symmonds and Brenda Martinez won the men’s and women’s 800m, and two
Americans came in the top five of the women’s 1500m, securing a
successful first day of competition at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
28-year-old Rowbury got things started in the 3000m, which looked more
like an American championship than an open Diamond League meeting. With
seven Americans in the field, the red, white, and blue took over once
Spain’s Dolores Checa and Kenya’s Irene Chebet Cheptai had had enough
time in the lead.
In the early stages of the race, Rowbury sat
in perfect position lap after lap, tucked in behind the leaders. When
Molly Huddle took to the front with two laps remaining, Rowbury stayed
calm knowing she had her finely tuned 1500m speed in her back pocket.
last lap I was pretty excited I was in a good position. I wasn’t sure
what was going on behind me,” said Rowbury, who will compete in the
5000m at next month’s IAAF World Championships. “I had a clear
straightaway and was like ‘let’s go.’ You never know that last 100
meters — sometimes you keep going and sometimes the elephant jumps on
your back. I’m happy it stayed somewhere else today.”
meters remaining, Rowbury simply went to another gear one no one could
match. Cruising home in 8:41.46, the Duke alum stopped the clock in a
world best time. Of the top eight positions, seven went to Americans,
with only Canada’s Sheila Reid –who also lives and trains in the USA–
disturbing the trend in fourth.
Tonight’s race was Rowbury’s last before she toes the line for 5000m in Moscow.
just trying to prepare myself for that toughness that I’m going to need
[in the 5000m],” she said. Gabriele Anderson and Huddle rounded out the
top three, both recording personal best times of 8:42.64 and 8:42.99,
respectively (Huddle will join Rowbury in the 5000m in Moscow). Jordan
Hasay finished fifth, also in a new personal best (8:46.89). She’ll be
running the 10,000m in Moscow.
Another American victory came in
the men’s 800m, where Nick Symmonds led a USA sweep of the top three.
Recording a season’s best time of 1:43.67, the 29-year-old was
encouraged by his tactically-savy racing style, overtaking USA champion
Duane Solomon with less than 200 meters remaining. The pair last
competed on this track in the Olympic final where Solomon finished
fourth and Symmonds fifth.
“With my strength that I’ve proven
last week, I have enough strength to get through that first 200 meters
at that pace. It shows me that I can be up there with Duane and
[Mohammed] Aman kicking for a medal,” said an energetic Symmonds. “I’m
sick and tired of this bullshit trying to get through 25 people to get
a medal. I’m going to be more aggressive this year.”
Martinez ran away with the women’s 800m title, setting a meet record of
1:58.19 in the process. While Britain’s Marilyn Okoro took the pace out
hard –using the hometown crowd’s cheers to her advantage– Martinez
was content sitting back in the pack. At the bell, Martinez began
moving, then unleashed a surge with 250 meters remaining. With half a
lap left, it was clear she was the best athlete in the field today.
in under 2:00 for the fourth time this season (five if you count her
irregular mark at the Re:Run Meet in San Diego), Martinez was all
“I just tried to be patient and relaxed and know when
to go,” said last year’s Fifth Avenue Mile champion. “I felt it was a
bit easier and that’s when I began to push. I still feel like I can
compete with the big girls. Today showed I really think I can run
sub-1:58. I’m ready for it.”
Fellow American Ajee’ Wilson gave
her best effort to finish second, but was nipped by Elena Mirela Lavric
at the line. Wilson wound up third in 2:00.20.
In the women’s
1500m, many eyes were on American junior Mary Cain. Walking by the
media mixed zone and into the stadium, Cain’s eyes widened and a faint
smile came across her face, the sight of a sold-out Olympic Stadium
sweeping her off her feet.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” said the
17-year-old. “Yesterday at the warm-up, I was like ‘Jordan [Hasay],
we’re good here, this isn’t that big.’ And then today I walked out and
was like ‘Oh…’ I was pretty scared. Before hand I was fine but
getting out there and doing my strides, I felt like the whole crowd
just drained me.”
Cain found herself in 15th place with a lap
remaining, while Nicole Sifuentes (Canada), Susan Kuijken
(Netherlands), and Mary Kuria (Kenya) battled for the lead. Over the
course of the final 400 meters, things would shake up drastically:
Sifuentes and Kuijken would fade, Kuria would escape being boxed in to
claim the victory, and Ibtissam Lakhouad (Morocco) would improve from
fifth to second. American Katie Mackey closed hard to finish third, and
–most surprising of all– Cain would make up ten positions to finish
“It’s OK, kind of pathetic but going into it I knew I
was kind of worried,” said Cain, whose time was 4:09.77. As her
interview with Race Results Weekly went on, the Bronxville High School
student cheered up a bit. “I came in fifth in the end, which wasn’t
A spot behind Cain came Morgan Uceny, clocking 4:09.79.
Saturday, distance action continues with the men’s Emsley Carr Mile,
3000m steeplechase, and 3000m. In the 3000m is double Olympic gold
medalist Mo Farah.