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Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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13,000 athletics fans packed Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium to witness the best in global track & field.  But the overwhelmingly British crowd also wanted to see outstanding performances by their countrymen and countrywomen.  As it turned out, they had their crumpet and they ate it, too.

The British beat started early with the w400.  Christine Ohurugou –  not dispelling observations that she views 2014 as a year of rest and recovery – rang up a 51.40 circuit to win under breezy conditions. The '08 Olympic and reigning world champ exhibited strength in the homestretch to turn back American veterans Joanna Atkins [51.53] and Jessica Beard [51.63].

Later on, Lynsey Sharp – another Brit – followed suit.  Timing her kick beautifully, Great Britain's Commonwealth silver medalist [1:59.14] surged off the final curve and delighted the partisan crowd as she powered past first USA's world medalist Brenda Martinez [1:59.56] and then world and Olympic champion Eunice Sum [1:59.42] for an unexpected victory.

British athletes were not destined to win every event.  In the wSP, it was just another day at the office for New Zealand's incomparable Valerie Adams.  The Kiwi's winning heave of 19.96 meters [62’2½"] bettered runner-up Christina Schwanitz by over 2 feet, clinched her 55th consecutive shot put win, and pushed out her already insurmountable overall DL lead.

There had been considerable media ballyhoo that the men’s rarely-competed 600 meter run would showcase a world record attempt by Kenya’s David Rudisha, the 800m global record holder at 1:40.91.  At the gun, the reigning Olympic champion got right after it – bolting to the lead and splitting 200 in 23.25 and 400 in about 47 seconds.  Running clear of the field and putting the pedal down on the homestretch, Rudisha gritted to the line.  His 1:13.71 clocking missed the Johnny Gray record of 1:12.81, but was definitely in the Johnny Gray Zone.

Coming off his Commonwealth championship win, Jamaica's Kemar Bailey-Cole [10.15] held off fast-closing countryman Nesta Carter [10.13] and USA's Mike Rodgers [10.15] – the current DL leader – for the 100m win.

The 2014 drama in the men's high jump continues. With the bar now routinely raised to heights only rarely seen in recent years, Mustav Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko staged yet another duel on the high jump apron. The only competitors left to attack 2.41m [7'10¾"], the two leapers each had a very close miss at what would have been the second new meeting record height of the day.  The Ukrainian world and Olympic champion had a chance on his final attempt to snatch the win from his Qatar competitor, but it was not to be.  Barshim earned the win when his fewer misses resolved their shared clearance at 2.38m [7’9¾”] and bettered the 1993 meeting record of 2.36m [7’8¾”] set by world record holder Javier Sotomayor.

Olympic champion Kirani James turned in a workmanlike victory in the m400, clocking 44.59 for a clear win over African champion Isaac Makwala [45.02] and UK's Martyn Rooney [45.25].  

Jamaica's Kerron Stewart [11.22] battled not only the field, but a pesky headwind for her 100m final win.  France's Myriam Soumare [11.25] grabbed second and the UK's Ashleigh Nelson [11.26] got up for third.  USA's Tori Bowie – the world and DL leader – pulled up at 70 meters with what appeared to be a left quad problem.  The other American sprinters – Jeter, Felix, Lawson, Tarmoh, Solomon, Gardner, and Young – all struggled.

Premature celebration cost world and DL leader Jarius Birech the opportunity to lower his own season leading mark.  Over 70 meters ahead after the final water jump, the waving Kenyan steepler was on his way to a near-8:00 performance until he realized his attention lapse had brought him right up against the final barrier.  No worries.  After a complete stop, he swung himself over the barrier and trotted across the line in 8:07.80 for the victory – but not a new world leading time.

After letting others do the work in the women's 2-mile run, Kenya's Mercy Cherono [9:11.49] uncorked a spirited kick over the final 200 meters to steal the victory from her Ethiopian rival Genzebe Dibaba who faded to 4th.

In one of the more electrifying races, USA's Dawn Harper-Nelson [12.66] exhibited unmatched power over the final two hurdles and the all-important run in to nip her fellow American Queen Harrison [12.70].  Olympic champion Sally Pearson's fantastic start was not enough to hold off the two Americans as she finished third in 12.85.

The penultimate Birmingham DL event was the 62nd running of the Emsley Carr Mile.  After smart Kenyan pacing towed the field through 3 laps in 2:52, the bunched leaders were set up for a tremendous last lap battle.  Asbel Kiprop – whose emerging tactical skills will soon match his raw talent – played his hand perfectly.  With an unmatched surge over the last 150 meters, the Olympic and world champion passed Vincent Kibet [3:52.15] and Ayanleh Souleiman [3:52.07] on the homestretch to easily dispose of a field of near Olympic final quality. 14 finishers broke 4:00.  Emsley Carr's grandson presented the new victor with a stunning champion's plate after he signed the official Emsley Carr book of champions – a virtual Who's Who of the world's all-time greatest milers.

The afternoon's final event – clearly by design – was the men's 2-mile run featuring Great Britain distance star Mo Farah.  No British fans left early as all UK enthusiasts in attendance waited to see if the 5000 / 10,000 Olympic, World, and European champion could transform an already-great day of athletics into a magnificent one.  Clearly a record assault was on as the pace setter led the field through the early laps while the stadium announcer hinted that Steve Ovett's British 2-mile record of 8:13.51 – nearly 36 years old – could be going down.    As the mile was passed in 4:07, an over-striding Farah look heavy-legged.  Was the record assault slipping away?  Not a chance.  Exhorted onward by the crowd, Farah – a shrewd championship racer, but not necessarily adept at running for time – began to lift.  Clearly inspired by his countrymen's encouragement, a rejuvenated Farah simply ran away from the field, covered the final mile in 4 flat, and stopped the clock at 8:07.85 – a new British and European record.  While his record run was a perfect 2nd birthday present for his twin daughters Aisha and Amani, the new 2-mile record holder was merely one of many Britons who went home happy

RunBlogRun Some photographs on this site have been reproduced with permission from runblogrun.com.