Flashback: Sir Mo claims victory in his last track race on home soil
Coming off the back of a stellar IAAF World Championships in London, last August’s edition of the Birmingham Diamond League once again proved a star turn in the athletics calendar.
Arguably the standout moment of the one-day spectacular at the Alexander Stadium was Sir Mo Farah signing off his final track race in the UK in style with victory in the men’s 3000m, a fitting result on the very same track on which he claimed the 3000m British record a year earlier.
The race-winning time of 7:38.64 saw Farah come home almost two seconds clear of Spain’s Adel Mechaal, while Farah’s countryman, Andrew Butchart, took fourth in 7:44.10, his second-fastest outdoor time ever a deserved reward for his front-running antics.
After stepping off the track for the final time, Farah said: “I never dreamed that I would come a four-time Olympic champion and multiple world champion.
“All I dreamed of as a youngster was running for Great Britain, from World Juniors and European U23s - you go through the ranks and you dream of becoming Olympic champion.
“Running was a hobby when I was younger but it has become a job and I love it. It can be hard when you get the pressure but the roads will be something completely different.”
There was more British joy to follow as Jake Wightman became the first British winner of the Emsley Carr Mile trophy in 12 years as he pipped Chris O’Hare to the title by 0.09s, a feat made additionally more memorable by the presence of father and coach Geoff up in the commentary box as he called the race home.
Elsewhere other middle distance saw the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan storm to victory in the women’s 3000m in 8:28.90, a blistering clocking which saw Hassan claim a personal best, Dutch record and the meeting record.
Behind Hassan the electric pace of the race saw many of the athletes in the field pulled to noteworthy performances, Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen one of those as she also secured a new lifetime best and German record with 8:29.89, while Brits Eilish McColgan and Rosie Clarke also got in on the personal best act as they crossed the line in 8:31.00 and 8:51.02 respectively.
Undoubtedly the pick of the field action, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim produced an astonishing clearance at 2.40m to take victory in the men’s high jump.
With all eyes in the Alexander Stadium on him and his fellow competitors on their feet to clap him in, Barshim’s graceful approach and leap saw him fly over 2.40m, a jump which claimed the world lead for 2017 as well as the meeting record.
“I knew I had that jump in me, but I needed that pressure on my shoulders,” he said afterwards.
“I love it here; I had the meeting record here from 2014 and I also won in Birmingham last year so it is a lucky place for me. I got so much support from the fans and my fellow competitors which really helped me to perform to my best.”
The Müller Grand Prix Birmingham heads back to the Alexander Stadium on Saturday 18 August this year, with many of the world’s best track and field athletes certain to be in attendance once again.