Muller Anniversary Games: Beth Dobbin and Laviai Nielsen produce PB's on day one


When athletics returns to the Olympic Stadium, you can almost hear the echoes of London 2012.

It's as if you could dig two inches into the track and see the outline of a 'Mobot', or put your ear to the ground and listen as 60,000 fans rejoiced with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.

The Anniversary Games does what it says on the tin, but it's for that very reason that so many athletes flock to the UK to run, jump and throw in the aftershock of the greatest ever Olympics.

For all the just criticisms of the Olympic Stadium's capabilities of hosting football, it's ability to stage brilliant track and field certainly couldn't be questioned at the Diamond League's 2019 instalment.

While most events on the IAAF's calendar are squashed into a four-hour window, London protracts the drama over an entire weekend where fans can bask in a mixture of nostalgia and anticipation.

Slew of British PB's

Day one saw a number of British athletes sink their spikes into the track with Katarina Johnson-Thompson tweaking parts of her heptathlon and Laura Muir attacking her latest 1500m.

There was also a slew of international stars such as Elaine Thompson and Christian Taylor, who were keen to start a weekend of athletics with a bang that could resonate for seven years, too.

However, the focus was very much on the domestic competitors who, aside from whipping the home crowd into raptures, delivered a slew of life-time bests on the eve of World Championship trials.

Muller Anniversary Games - Day One

Delight for Laviai Nielsen

Fresh from a season's best in Lausanne, Laviai Nielsen continued her incredible form in the women's 400 metres by leading a field including Shericka Jackson off the top bend.

The full points weren't to be, but a time of 50.83 seconds was enough to secure a personal best and position her as the 400m favourite going into the British trials.

Speaking to GiveMeSport about what would eventually be named the 'Moment of the Day', Nielsen remarked: "It's so special to do it here. This is my favourite place in the whole wide world.

"Every time I step on to this track, it just gives me goosebumps and such a magical lift, I wish I could race here all the time. I just enjoyed every step I took out there today.

"I was so happy I was able to do that in front of home fans and with my mum and my sister in the crowd. I honestly couldn't be any happier right now."

Jamie Webb and James Ellington

European medalist Jamie Webb was the next to lower his personal best and ran strongly to finish sixth in a pack that included, although didn't end with, the remarkable Nijel Amos.

His time of 1:44.52 should move him closer to winning a first domestic outdoor title, while it was Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich who took the full points after Amos' plight.

There was also the emotional return of James Ellington who ran his first 100 metres since breaking his leg and ankle, as well as fracturing his pelvis and eye socket, in a 2017 motorcycle crash.

Ellington explained that he was in great pain after the outing, but a time of 10.93 seconds alongside the second fastest man in history - Yohan Blake - was the triumph of an astonishing comeback.


Scintillating run from Beth Dobbin

Returning to the topic of British PB's, though, and Beth Dobbin was in top form over 200 metres, vindicating her decision to start the outdoor season later than her rivals.

The Scottish-record holder wasn't phased by sharing the track with Olympic champion Thompson and told GiveMeSport afterwards: "It was just so surreal!

"There were times where I was like: 'oh my god, we're right next to each other. Stay relaxed, stay with her, stay with her.' The race was a bit of a blur, but I do remember seeing her there.

"To be so close to an Olympic champion just gave me so much confidence, I'm just so pleased with that run! When you are racing girls of that class, you just have to be on your A game."

KJT and Laura Muir in action

Johnson-Thompson competed in the very same 200m and although she couldn't mix it with some of the world's best, the Liverpudlian reiterated why she's the fastest heptathlete on the circuit. 

As for Muir? The Scotswoman is simply unbeatable in front of a home crowd and rode the loudest of Olympic Stadium cheers through the final 100 metres to claim the victory.

There might have been no Genzebe Dibaba to challenge her, but another strong performance has confirmed that Muir is on the brink of grabbing that elusive World Championship medal. 

So, while British athletics will never recreate the drama of 'Super Saturday', to call the first day of the 2019 Anniversary Games anything different would be a disservice to all the home athletes.


With too many top class performances to list exhaustively, it was a successful day for the likes of Dobbin and Nielsen to whet the fans' appetites going into a thrilling Sunday.

Who was your star performer from day one in London? Have your say in the comments section below.

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