Ajeé Wilson beats Lynsey Sharp (Great Britain) in the women's 800-meter during the IAAF Diamond League event on Aug. 18, 2019 in Birmingham, England.
Led by Ajeé Wilson’s victory in the 800 meters, Team USA athletes showed polished performances with seven podium finishes as Diamond League track and field action resumed Sunday in Birmingham, England, following a month-long midsummer layoff.
Rio Olympian Wilson, the 2017 world bronze medalist in the 800, was the best of the field that ran in cool and windy conditions in the city’s Alexander Stadium, clocking in a quarter second faster than Great Britain’s Lynsey Sharp.
“It felt good,” said Wilson, whose winning time was 2:00.76. “It's a good race to get in heading towards the back end of the season and prior to the world championships. We don't focus on times. It's all about the win. That's first on the list.”
Olympic hopeful Raevyn Rogers, a gold medalist in the 4x400-meter at the 2018 Indoor World Championships in Birmingham, finished third in 2:01.40 seconds.
“It was a really windy race,” Rogers remarked afterward.
In the women’s 100-meter hurdles, world record holder Keni Harrison scored a second place finish in 12.66 seconds, behind rival Danielle Williams of Jamaica, who ran it in 12.46, tying the meet record set by Harrison herself in 2016.
“I struggled in the first round, but I was able to come back,” said Harrison, who ran the race in lane two, out of sight of Williams, who won despite banging her knee against a hurdle. “She couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see her, so I had to keep going because I knew she would be pushing me. At the next Diamond League I hope we can be next to each other and bring out a good performance.”
It was a silver medal finish for Obi Igbokwe in the men’s 400 meters. Igbokwe crossed the line in 45.53 seconds, the best American finish in a final where athletes from only three countries – the USA, Jamaica and Great Britain – were represented. Jamaica’s Akeem Bloomfield won the race in 45.04, while Team USA’s Kahmari Montgomery, Michael Cherry, and Vernon Norwood, finished fourth, fifth, and eighth, respectively.
“It’s super windy on the back straight,” Igbokwe said. “I think I could have run a lot better, but just trying to adjust to the wind on the back straight.”
How does he find Birmingham? Pretty, but cold.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Igbokwe commented. “I better pack a raincoat and a sweater next time.”
2012 Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr settled for third in Birmingham, clearing 4.65 meters. The The 37-year-old has the world lead in 2019 – 4.91 meters cleared in Texas in March – but wasn’t able to approach her season’s best in England Sunday. Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi, the reigning Olympic champion, fared slightly better, ranking first after clearing 4.75.
Elsewhere, Michael Rodgers and David Kendziera chipped in a pair of third place finishes in the men’s 100 meters and 400-meter hurdles, respectively. Rodgers placed third in 10.09 seconds, just ahead of teammate Christopher Belcher (10.13).
Jamaica’s Yohan Blake and Britain’s Adam Gemili were the fastest men to run the hundred, both crossing the line in 10.07.
Kendziera ran his race in 49.29 seconds, behind Turkey’s Yasmani Copello, who ran it in 49.08, and Alison Santos of Brazil (49.2), to maintain his third place standing from qualification.
From Birmingham, Diamond League action crosses the English Channel and heads to Paris, where the meeting is set for next Saturday.