Sally Pearson winning the 100m Hurdles at the 2013 Great North City Games (© Mark Shearman)
Olympic champion and World silver medallist Sally Pearson finished her season in style at the Great North City Games in the British city of Newcastle with two victories on Saturday (14).
Thousands of spectators came to the banks of the river Tyne to watch the stars compete at this unique event in dry but cloudy weather conditions with some wind.
The Australian was in the lead together with USA’s Dawn Harper-Nelson right from the gun in the 100m Hurdles, but while Pearson maintained her rhythm to win in 12.67, her predecessor as Olympic champion from 2008 hit a hurdle hard in the middle of the race.
Harper-Nelson had difficulties recovering and that helped Britain’s Tiffany Porter to move up into second place. With a 1.7m/s tailwind, Porter took second behind Pearson in 12.85 while Harper-Nelson was third in 12.98.
“It was a good final hurdles race for me to end this season,” reflected Pearson.
After winning the first track event, the Australian later also took the final race of the day, but this time it was much closer.
Hastings on her heels
Running into a slight head wind, Pearson was in control of the 150m but tired in the final stages and her lead diminished to almost nothing.
USA’s Natasha Hastings closed the gap and as they crossed the line it was impossible to see who was ahead.
The photo-finish then showed that Pearson had hung on to a minimal advantage. She clocked 17.20 with Hastings second in 17.21. Great Britain’s 2013 World 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu was a distant third in 17.60.
“I am really tired now,” added Pearson after two outings within 75 minutes. “I will now go back home and enjoy my time on the beach!”
With 400 metres to go in the Mile road race, a big group of runners were still all together but USA’s Morgan Uceny surged ahead with 250 metres to go.
She kept her lead and crossed the line in 4:33.97 while the British pair of Laura Weightman and Hannah England were second and third in 4:34.63 and 4:35.12 respectively.
Kenya’s World 1500m bronze medallist Hellen Obiri, who was sixth in 4:35.86, and World 3000m Steeplechase champion Milcah Chemos, seventh in 4:36.66, were well beaten on this occasion.
Oliver almost overtaken
Oliver almost overtaken
In the men’s events, David Oliver confirmed his superiority in the second half of this season in the 110m Hurdles but he had to work hard to come from behind to win his final race of the year.
It was his US team-mate, Olympic champion and World record-holder Aries Merritt, who got the better start, but Oliver moved ahead after three hurdles. World silver medallist Ryan Wilson also overtook a struggling Merritt but it was getting close in the final metres as Oliver hit the last hurdle hard.
He stayed on his feet and hung on to win in 13.37 into a slight breeze, with Wilson second in 13.43 while Merritt followed them home in 13.56.
“It was a tough race with some great opposition,” said Oliver.
In the sprint events, Great Britain’s James Desaolu took the 100m in 10.17 while USA’s Michael Rodgers was the winner of the 150m in 14.90, with both races into a slight headwind. Another British victory came in the Long Jump when Chris Tomlinson reached 7.83m.
The men’s Mile race produced a major upset. With around 400 metres to go it looked like Kenya’s World champion Asbel Kiprop was in control; he had taken the lead early on with his fellow Kenyan Bethwel Birgen, but at the very end of the season it was clear that Kiprop’s famous finishing kick has been dulled. Instead it was the USA’s Garrett Heath who took the lead with 250 metres to go and defended his advantage to the line.
The 27-year-old won in 4:01.56 from fellow US runner Leo Manzano, who was second in 4:01.79.
“It was an amazing race. Nobody was moving, so I decided to go. I expected the others to pass me, but that did not happen, although there were some great names in there,” said Garrett Heath, who improved his 1500m best to 3:34.12 this year and took the US Road Racing Championship in the Mile.
The Kenyans finished way behind with Birgen fourth in 4:06.45 and Kiprop fifth in 4:07.12.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF