Inside Athletics

No barriers to victory for McLellan in London

Norwich Union London Grand PrixSally McLellan has taken out the 100m hurdles on the second day of the London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, defeating a strong field including current world leader Lolo Jones.

McLellan was characteristically the fastest out of the blocks and crossed the line in 12.65 seconds, a mere hundredth of a second ahead of Canada's Perdita Felicien, with Jones overcoming a poor start to take third in 12.71 seconds. The race was run into a 0.7 m/s headwind.

In last year's event McLellan led early but stumbled over the final flights to be passed by Jones as she fell across the line. At the time McLellan described that she had the necessary racing experience, but not the experience of racing at such a speed. Now it seems she has both, making her formidable opposition for the world's best hurdlers.

McLellan's time was the second fastest of her European campaign so far, behind the 12.60 seconds she ran in Lausanne earlier this month.

Like McLellan, Steve Hooker improved one place on his London performance of a year ago, taking out the pole vault. However, the event didn't reach the lofty heights of last year, where Hooker cleared the highest non-winning height in history (5.97m), with the variable winds made conditions difficult for the vaulters. A first up clearance at 5.70m was sufficient for Hooker to take out the competition on a countback from Derek Miles from the USA, with both athletes missing all three of their attempts at 5.84m.

Paul Burgess was equal eighth, clearing the opening height of 5.40m on his first attempt but then failing at his attempts at 5.55m.

The renowned Emsley Carr mile had two peculiarities this year: no athletes representing African nations (save for South Africa's Johan Cronje) and and American sweep of the top three places. African heritage was at play though, with Kenyan born Bernard Lagat taking line honours in 3:52.71, with Leonel Manzano second (3:53.01) and Sudanese born Lopez Lomong third (3:53.35).

Behind the Americans was Australian 10000m record holder Collis Birmingham, whose personal best of 3:54.30 suggests that his speed is in good shape to contest the 5000m at the world championships, should he decide to do so in preference to the 10000m.

Jeremy Roff broke four minutes for the first time, taking a second off Youcef Abdi's NSW record with a run of 3:55.05. The performance ranks him as the ninth fastest Australian all-time over the distance.

Rounding out the Australian participation in the race was Ryan Gregson, who also lowered his personal best and NSW junior record for the event to 3:58.90, but was short of Mike Hillardt's Australian junior record of 3:56.87.

Fabrice Lapierre and Mitchell Watt were not able to produce their recent strong form, with Lapierre managing 8.00m in his first and only jump of the competition to finish fourth, whilst Watt leapt to 7.96m in the third round for sixth place. Henry Frayne was seventh with a leap of 7.61m. The competition was taken out by Dwight Phillips with a wind assisted jump of 8.33m (+2.7 m/s).


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