Birmingham DL: Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson shine for home crowd


There's something wonderfully rough about the 'diamond' in Diamond League when it rolls around to Birmingham.

If there was anything uniting the athletes on a deceivingly sunny day at the Alexander Stadium, it was the typically British breeze that played havoc with everything from sprinting to pole-vaulting.

Today's event will be the last time that the IAAF's flagship competition will be hosted within the hull of the iconic stadium, which will be rested and torn down for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

However, the old charm of that iconic arena - the host of next week's British Championships - ensured the home crowd were treated to an unforgettable day of world-class athletics. 

And that's a fact the strongest of Birmingham winds couldn't sway us on. 

KJT vs Thiam in the long jump

Of course, the headline performances were always going to come from the British athletes, the figureheads upon which the whole meet was branded upon and celebrated for.

It was great to see Katarina Johnson-Thompson sharing the runway with her nemesis, in the kindest use of the word, Nafissatou Thiam as they threw themselves into the long jump competition.

There was already plenty for the British fans to cheer with Abigail Irozuru flying to a World Championship-standard distance, but KJT was also on fine form to finish in third place.


KJT turns her focus to British Trials

The Liverpudlian's leap of 6.85 metres was a season's best and one of her finest displays since switching coaches, even if it was agonisingly short of Thiam's new national record of 6.86m.

Speaking to GiveMeSport just moments after her long-jump duel, Johnson-Thompson reflected: "I'm really happy with the distance! I'm very happy with my competitiveness and where I'm at before Doha.

"I feel like I'm coming into form at just the right time. I'm really trying to get it all together, come into it fresh and jump as far as I can.

"Next week, for example, with trials, I'm treating it like a mini triathlon. So, it's different focuses. I would live for mini-triathlons to be on the Diamond League circuit because I love competing at these events."

Asher-Smith faces superb 200m field

The leading lady of British athletics warmed up for the World Championship trials by facing off with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Blessing Okagbare and Dafne Schippers amongst others.

In the end, Olympic 400m champion Shaune Miller-Uibo emerged victorious by showing incredible top-end speed, but it did little to phase a buoyant Asher-Smith in the mixed zone.

"I was really happy with that race in all honesty," the British star admitted. "It was a world-class field out there and I've never really finished so highly amongst all those women, so I'm really happy with that run.


Strong display in second place

"Obviously, I'm a competitor, so I always want to win, but I was proud to finish above World champions, Olympic champions and Commonwealth champions.

"For me, you just have to go into it like any other race. Every time I step on to the track, I want to win, so it's no different in that respect. I always try and put my best foot forward and today is no different."

The ever-smiling sprinter proceeded to greet young British fans cheering her name outside the media tent, taking the time to pose for photos and sign autographs with those she inspires.

McColgan addresses internet trolls

There was also yet another personal-best run from Eilish McColgan, managing her performance in the mile impeccably having already garnered life-time bests in the 1,500m and 10,000m in 2019.

The Dundee-born runner, who we spoke to last week, discussed publicly replying to an internet troll who had called her 'too skinny' just days after our own discussion about body image.

McColgan reacted by saying: "I'd just said to you that I don't get trolled that much and I'm very lucky! It was only just two comments, but it really frustrated me because it was on one of my sponsor's posts.

"I feel like brands should be able to post about real athletes, they shouldn't have to use models or Instagram celebrities or Kylie Jenner to promote their trainers! 

"They should be able to promote not just skinny people like me, but people who are running marathons and people who are doing ParkRuns every weekend. Just because people are 'too big' or 'too skinny', it doesn't make them less of a runner than anybody else." 

A day of incredible performances

There were also some stand-out displays from the international competitors on show, with World and Olympic champion Omar McLeod opening with an impressive victory in the 110m hurdles.

Yohan Blake - the second fastest man in history - put on a show with his winning run in the 100m, while Katerina Stefanidi showed her competition nous to defeat a stacked pole vault field.

All in all, while the unpredictable winds and intermittent sun might jade the diamond in the IAAF's crowning competition, plenty of athletes shined in spite of it all in Birmingham.

Muller Birmingham Grand Prix

Next: British Trials and Doha 2019

For all the British athletes involved, all signs now point towards the all-important trials and the opportunity to race in the sporting promised land of Doha in September and October.

That impending convergence of talent is creeping closer and closer, but Birmingham gave us a tantalising look through the keyhole at an entire house of drama yet to come.

Who do you think was the star performer in Birmingham? Have your say in the comments section below.

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