The 2014 Sainsbury Anniversary Games were a rousing success, with the predicted bad weather conditions not bothering the athletes or spectators all that much on Sunday.
Held at the iconic Horse Guards Parade and The Mall in the heart of London, the Anniversary Games are one of the most anticipated street meets of the athletic calendar. Belgian athlete Thomas van der Plaetsen thought the concept was truly amazing and can only do wonders for the sport:
These london anniversary games are awesome! Taking track & field into the city might really be a key to up the popularity of the sport...— ThomasVanderPlaetsen (@vanderplaetsen) July 20, 2014
Hundreds of the world's best athletes and para-athletes, including local favourite David Weir, gathered on Sunday to make sure the crowd was treated to a sporting spectacle, and they didn't disappoint.
Here's the full list of winners for every discipline:
|Women's pole vault||Fabiana Murer|
|Men's 110-metre hurdles||Ryan Wilson|
|Women's high jump||Blanka Vlasic|
|Men's long jump||Christopher Tomlinson|
|Women's 100-metre dash||Allyson Felix|
|Women's 1 mile||Genzebe Dibaba|
|Men's 2 miles||Bernard Lagat|
|Women's shot put||Cristina Schwanitz|
|Men's pole vault||Renaud Lavillenie|
|Women's 100-metre hurdles||Tiffany Porter|
|Men's high jump||Derek Drouin|
|Women's long jump||Eloyse Lesueur|
|Men's shot put||David Storl|
|Men's 100-metre dash||Michael Rodgers|
For full results, visit British Athletics' official website.
The men's 110-metre hurdles final immediately set the pace for the event, with three runners finishing in exactly the same time. A photo finish was needed to determine the winner, with the USA's Ryan Wilson taking top honours ahead of Barbados' Shane Brathwaite and England's Will Sharman.
Despite narrowly losing out on the top spot, Sharman told the BBC he was very happy with his performance: "The times I am running on average now would get medals at all of the championships."
In front of the cameras of British Athletics, Sharman said he felt "privileged" to be running in such an event:
Favourite Weir took the win in the one-mile wheelchair race, overcoming a sloppy start to easily dispatch the competition.
Winning at the site of his 2012 triumph in the marathon, Weir told Athletics Weekly the event brought back a lot of memories: "It’s been two years since the Paralympics and it’s great to finish down The Mall. Memories started flooding back, as conditions are similar to those when I did the marathon. I’m just glad it was a mile and not a marathon today!"
World-record holder Renaud Lavillenie only needed one attempt to claim the win in the pole vault, via C4 Paralympics, clearing 5.70 metres with relative ease. The Frenchman has dominated the field in recent years, and his popularity is starting to reach unprecedented heights.
Even fellow athletes like Kyle Powell can't help themselves:
I'm supposed to be competing at the anniversary games but I'm still gonna be a fanboy if I see Ashton Eaton or Lavillenie in the hotel 😂— Quadzilla (@KyleLPowell) July 19, 2014
Allyson Felix won three gold medals during the 2012 London Olympics and lived up to her status as favourite for the women's 100-metre race, comfortably winning despite missing her start.
As she told British Athletics, the American sprinter is still looking for her best form:
Michael Rodgers took the win in the day's final event, the men's 100-metre dash, in a season-best time of 9.96 seconds, as shared by British Athletics:
Rodgers was but one of many to set high marks for the season, and his narrow win over Kim Collins was a fitting conclusion to a fantastic afternoon of top-class athletics.
The Anniversary Games are about more than competition—the iconic setting and the fans' proximity make it an ideal event to promote the sport. Brianne Theisen-Eaton joined the long list of competitors in awe of the surroundings:
So did Steve Lewis:
Amazing atmosphere at the London anniversary games. Huge privilege to jump there. Happy with my 5.50 and 3rd place. CWG prep begins tomo.— Steve Lewis (@AirLewis) July 20, 2014
Helen Clitheroe enjoyed her race, but she's already looking ahead at the next event on the calendar:
Had a fun race at the Anniversary games mile happy with 5th in a good field. Next race Commonwealth Games #whoopwhoop— helen clitheroe (@clitherbot) July 20, 2014
The Anniversary Games serve as an excellent dress rehearsal for the Commonwealth Games, which will start on Wednesday in Glasgow. As evident by these performances, it's clear several athletes are in great form.
With several of the top favourites performing up to standards in the heart of London, the stage is set for this year's event to be one of the best we've seen.