Jessica Ennis-Hill kicked off her Olympic title defence by throwing the javelin at the Loughborough International Athletics meeting for the second year in a row. In front of a 3,000 strong crowd, many of whom gathered behind the javelin runway for her competition, the London 2012 heptathlon champion was back in action for the first time since winning the World Championships in Beijing last August.
It wasn’t a vintage performance, as Ennis-Hill finished eighth with a best of 41.69m, but it was a start, showing that her achilles problems are under control and her bid for Olympic glory is perhaps back on track.
The other big story of the day was the GB & NI men’s 4x100m relay team, who set out to secure another Olympic qualifying time. After years of baton troubles, a quality quartet of James Dasaolu, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, Richard Kilty and Chijindu Ujah looked slick as they posted a winning time of 38.64. That time puts them in the top 10 in the world, and although it wasn’t the perfect run, it is clear that the two relay camps they’ve been on this winter have worked wonders in harmonising the team.
Earlier in the day, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey took a welcome home victory for Loughborough in the men’s match 100m, stopping the clock in 10.29 (+1.4). The A guest race went quicker though, Chijindu Ujah beating his GB & NI teammate James Dasaolu in a quick 10.06 (+0.5) to Dasaolu’s 10.14.
Andrew Pozzi ran his first outdoor 110mH race in Great Britain for four years, and boy was it worth the wait, as the England runner ran a new personal best to win easily in 13.32. That mark is comfortably the fastest by a Briton this season and in fact the seventh fastest British time ever, as he went inside the 13.47 Olympic qualifying mark.
Loughborough University student Jess Turner showed her class to win a strong women’s 400mH match race in 58.32, nearly a second clear of her closest competitor. Another Loughborough student Rachel Johncock ran her first outdoor race of the season, finishing third in the match 100m in 11.63 (+1.0), just outside her personal best and not far behind winner Hannah Brier of GB & NI juniors who stopped the clock at 11.47.
Double World Champion Sophie Hahn won the ambulant 100m in 12.66 (+0.9m/s) just six hundredths outside her personal best, which is also the T38 world record. In third was Olivia Breen, clocking a new lifetime best of 13.37, whilst Georgina Hermitage nearly broke the T37 100m world record with a 13.66 performance, missing out by seven hundredths of a second.
Loughborough University graduate and Loughborough Sport staff member Sarah Holt took a popular victory in the women’s hammer with 66.46m, whilst Loughborough’s Mark Dry won the men’s event with a best of 73.72m.
Scott Lincoln improved his lifetime best to win the shot put with 19.45m, whilst Niamh Emerson beat up-and-coming heptathlon star Morgan Lake on count back in the women’s high jump, as both athletes cleared 1.89m.
As always the 4x400m relays brought proceedings to a close, with England taking the spoils in both, but it was the International 4x400m races earlier in the day that really got the crowd going. In the men’s race GB & NI ran a quality 3.03.81, with the likes of Martyn Rooney and Matt Hudson-Smith looking in good early season form. It was a similar story in the women’s, as GB & NI again took the spoils thanks to strong runs from Seren Bundy-Davies and Laviai Nielsen.
Thirty minutes later Laviai’s twin Lina ran a fine 53.25 personal best to win the guest 400m, which turned out to be quicker than Christine Ohuruogu’s sister Victoria’s 53.95 winning time in the match race.
In the middle distance races, Loughborough University students Zak Curran and Jake Wightman took victory in the 800m and 1500m respectively, in times of 1.48.94 and 3.40.85, whilst graduate Gemma Hillier-Moses won the women’s 3000m.
Full results of all today’s events can be found here: http://loughboro.athletics-uk.org/