The Bislett Games has a strong affinity with the UK, particularly the Dream Mile with the memories of Steve Ovett, Seb Coe, and Steve Cram. As he now is Lord Coe set three world records in the iconic Bislett Stadium.
An early disappointment this year was that Katie Snowden, who had shown excellent early season form, was a non-starter in the women’s mile.
The prospect of three British women among the eight athletes in the 100m, was intriguing, a mini British Champs. Dina Asher-Smith and Darryl Neita could not be separated, running 10.98 (10.976 to be precise) for fourth place. Imani Lansiquot was seventh in 11.10.
Daryll Neita told me: “I’m not happy with 4th place, but I’m really happy with another sub-11 run. 10.97 and 10.98 this season is good running. Tonight it was very close on the line. Ta Lou had an amazing race. She was gone! I think it was important to stay in my race plan and I think I did well tonight. Sub 11 has to become normal. That is the way it has to be to have a chance of being in the final and getting medals. I need to know what my coach thinks. I think he should be somewhat happy”. On whether it was special to have three Brits in a Diamond League race, she commented: “I guess it is but I’m on my own journey, just focused on myself. Me against the world!”
Dina always seems good at putting races in perspective and focusing on the bigger goal: “It was OK. I was hoping for a bit of a quicker time today as I think I’m in better shape, but sometimes that does not happen. I’m happy to have done alright in a field like that, a really stacked field. That’s good. Maybe my start could have been a little bit better, but we’re banging out races just now. But it’s all good, We’re going to go into the next training block and then come out again hoping to run faster, but you know it’s all good – I’m happy, I’m healthy”.
With so much hype about how fast Jakob Ingebrigtsen was going to run and how he was certain to win – which he did – it would be easy to forget that there were other athletes in the race! 3:27.95 was Ingebrigtsen’s winning time. Josh Kerr was ninth, and Neil Gourley ran a good PR and was tenth. Neil told me: “It was vicious; we kind of knew it would be pretty relentless from the start. Good wind-up from Jakob at the front to make it hard. I’m just not quite ready for that yet. We need to be soon enough, but we’re not quite there yet so. It’s an odd feeling running a PB and feeling disappointed. I don’t think I can walk off this track disappointed with a two-second PB. It’s a big step forward. A great start to the season, all things considered”.
Josh Kerr was also bemused: ”It’s a bit disappointing that the first one over 3:30 was ninth, but that’s as part of our sport now. I’m excited to complete this early in the season and run something close to my PB, so I am happy. Running around about the 3:30 mark, you would expect to be a little higher up, but that’s where I am right now. I executed what I thought was the best plan; I just didn’t have it in the last 200. We have a couple of months to Budapest, and that’s what I’m going to be working on. It was a really good starting point for me, and I am now ready to build off that”.
Matt Hudson-Smith was fifth in the Men’s 400 in 44.92. an encouraging result, as he did not finish in Rabat.
Britain had a comfortable victory in the women’s 4 by 400 relay with a relatively inexperienced quartet of Carys McAuley Ama Pipi, Lina Nielsen and Nicole Kendall. Kendall and Pipi had also run a pre-program individual event – Kendall came second in a 400 in 53.50 and Pipi second in a 200 in 23.19. It was a great experience for the team, with Nielsen commenting: “It was surreal running out there as the crowd was so loud.”
It was also lovely to see two legends of British track with Martyn Rooney managing the relay team and Christine Ohuruogu working with Matt Hudson-Smith.