Big day in Birmingham - Williams, Blake, Bloomfield enjoy wins at latest Diamond League stop
It was not the perfect race, but Danielle Williams continued her amazing form with a big win in the 100m hurdles at the Mueller Grand Prix in Birmingham, as the nation’s athletes enjoyed the latest Diamond League stop, picking up four wins and a third-place finish at the Alexander Stadium.
Yohan Blake, Akeem Bloomfield and Omar McLeod joined Williams in the winners’ enclosure, while there was a third-place finish for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at the penultimate meet in the series before the Diamond League finals begin in Zurich on August 29 and Brussels on September 6.
Williams picked up her third and fourth straight wins, clocking 12.53 in the heats before returning to post 12.47 in the final to beat the previously unbeaten American Kendra Harrison, with the world record holder taking second in 12.66. Tobi Amusan, 12.71, was third, with the other Jamaican in the final, Janeek Brown, 12.79, taking fifth.
Buoyed by the mid-week news of her eligibility to represent Jamaica at the World Championships next month through direct selection by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, Williams showed her composure after hitting an early hurdle, staying in control to claim her sixth win in nine starts.
“To be honest, I didn’t execute that properly,” Williams said. “I banged my knee on one of the hurdles, but I came away with the win so I am happy. It wasn’t that important to win, this is another race on the way to the Diamond League finals and whether I won or lost, execution was my only focus.”
Megan Tapper (13.07) and Yanique Thompson (13.19) finished fifth and seventh, respectively, in their heat and failed to make the final.
Bloomfield, who did not compete in the 400 metres at the National Championships – an event in which his countrymen have struggled this season – nudged the selectors to include him in the event for World, with a solid win.
After a close going for the majority of the race, Bloomfield pulled away from his rivals in the final 50 metres, stopping the clock on 45.04 seconds, as Obi Igbokwe finished second in 45.53 seconds, with Hudson Smith, in his first appearances this season in the event, taking third in 45.55 seconds. National champion Demish Gaye, 45.64, and Nathon Allen, 46.90 seconds, ended sixth and eight, respectively.
Importantly, Bloomfield picked up eight points to finish on 16 and joint second place in the Diamond League standings with the United States’ Michael Norman going into the finals.
“I feel OK, I got the win, but that’s all I can take from that. The eight points puts me in the Diamond League final and that’s the positive. I don’t know how selection will go for the World Championships, but we will have to see what happens,” said Bloomfield.
Allen, despite his eight-place finish, is also through to the Diamond League final, as he ended sixth in the standing with 12 points.
Meanwhile, Blake, who has been struggling all season, found good form to win the men’s 100m to also book his spot in the Diamond League finals.
After getting a good start, he held off home boy Adam Gemili, who, like him, also ran 10.07 seconds, while American Michael Rodgers finished third in 10.09 seconds. Tyquendo Tracey ran sixth in 10.14 seconds .
“It was good, it was coming,” Blake assessed. “The weather wasn’t great, but I’m saving the big day for the World Championships and the Diamond League finals in Zurich. The time is not bad under the circumstances. I can run faster than that and training has been good.”
In the non-Diamond League 110m hurdles event, defending world champion Omar McLeod, 13.21, helped himself to a win over Freddie Crittenden, 13.31, and Xie WenJun, 13.43 seconds.
McLeod has not had the best of seasons so far ,with only three wins in the event from eight starts. He did, however, had a warning for his rivals ahead of the World Championships.
“I am defending champion and I don’t take that lightly. If you are going to try and take my title, I am going to put up a wall and you will have to take it down,” McLeod declared. “It was pretty easy and I felt good ... I’m in a new environment with a new coach and I feel like I’m ready to go again.”
In a very competitive women’s 200 metres event, Fraser-Pryce had to settle for third with a time of 22.50 seconds. Using her 400m endurance, The Bahamas’ Shauna Miller-Uibo found extra in the final stage to win the event in 22.24 seconds, as Great Britain’s Dina Asher Smith finished second in 22.50 seconds.
Earlier, Jonielle Smith, 11.37, had to settle for fifth in the women’s 100 metres, while an unlucky Kemar Mowatt, who hit the final barrier after leading, also ended fourth in the men ‘s 400m hurdles in 49.56 seconds.