Mo Farah at the 2012 Samsung Diamond League meeting in Birmingham (© Getty Images)
A total of 30 London 2012 Olympic Games medallists, including 11 reigning Olympic champions, will be in action at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix in Birmingham, an IAAF Diamond League meeting on Sunday 30 June.
The British charge at the Alexander Stadium will be led by double Olympic champion Mo Farah, who will line up in a highly competitive 5000m that includes the top two in the world during 2013, the Ethiopian pair of Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yenew Alamirew, as well as their compatriot and 2011 World 10,000m champion Ibrahim Jeilan.
“2012 was an incredible year for me and I’m really looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd in the UK again. This is another big year with the World Championships just around the corner and it’s always good to perform well in Birmingham,” said Farah.
“I have great memories of competing at the Alexander Stadium and it was great to celebrate my Olympic success with a win there (over Two Miles) last year. I’ll be looking to run well there again and put on another good show for the fans.”
Olympic Long Jump champion Greg Rutherford will compete against a field that includes the USA’s four-time World champion and 2004 Olympic champion Dwight Phillips, Russia’s 2013 European Indoor champion Aleksandr Menkov and fellow British record-holder Chris Tomlinson.
Christine Ohuruogu, who won the 400m silver medal in London, will go head-to-head with Botswana’s in-form 2011 World 400m champion Amantle Montsho over one lap of the track, while Robbie Grabarz takes on fellow Olympic bronze medallist Mutaz Essa Barshim, from Qatar, and the USA’s current World champion Jesse Williams in a competitive High Jump contest.
In one of the biggest rivalries in athletics, Jamaica’s two-time Olympic Games 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will take on the USA’s current 100m World champion Carmelita Jeter over 200m.
Fraser-Pryce, who will also line up against Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, is in a confident mood.
“I’ve started the season well but I know there’s more to come from me. The 200m is looking very competitive already this year but I want to win at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix - Birmingham and show that I’m still the woman to beat in the sprints going to Moscow," said Fraser-Pryce.
“I had such a great welcome from the Birmingham public for the Jamaican team before the Games, I’m really looking forward to putting on a show for the crowd and hopefully come out with a victory this year after finishing second at the meet in 2012.”
Australia’s World and Olympic 100m Hurdles champion Sally Pearson will be joined by the silver and bronze medallists from London 2012 as the US duo of Dawn Harper-Nelson and Kellie Wells also line up at the Alexander Stadium.
Pearson, who ran an Olympic record of 12.35 to win in London, equalled the meeting record of 12.48 on her way to victory the last time she competed in Birmingham in 2011.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham, I had a great time there in 2011 and hopefully I can repeat my performance this time round. I’ve had an injury problem early in the season but now I feel ready to go out there and run well.
“Winning the Olympics last year was a dream come true, it was a perfect year for me. However this is another important year with the defence of my world title in Moscow in August and I’m confident that I can run even quicker and get close to the World record of 12.21,” commented Pearson.
Olympic podium back in Britain
The 400m Hurdles has already been tipped as the race of the meeting by many as London 2012’s top three – Felix Sanchez, Michael Tinsley and Javier Culson – line up alongside Great Britain’s reigning World champion Dai Greene.
“We are going to see another world-class field in the UK again for the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham and it’s definitely going to be the event to watch on 30 June," said Puerto Rico's Culson. "There’s going to be the Olympic one, two and three as well as the World Champion, so it makes for a very competitive race.
“Being the defending IAAF Diamond League champion is something that I want to hold on to this season, and I know I will have to be at my very best in Birmingham right through to the finale in Brussels.”
Sanchez, who took the Olympic gold in London eight years after his first triumph in Athens, knows that the Birmingham crowd will play a part in the race.
“We will have the top four athletes from the Games in Birmingham, and I’m sure I will be the one they want to beat. I always get a good reception from the British crowd, but as much as they like me, I’m sure they will be hoping for Dai to cross the line first.”
In the women’s 400m Hurdles, Great Britain’s in-form Perri Shakes-Drayton will be hoping to secure another personal best for the second time in a week.
She led from the front last weekend at the European Athletics Team Championships, winning the 400m with a best of 50.50, but this weekend Shakes-Drayton will return to her more familiar event of 400m Hurdles. All eyes are going to be on her battle with fellow Briton Eilidh Child, who ran a personal best of 54.42 last weekend.
London 2012 Olympic Games 110m Hurdles champion Aries Merritt set a stadium record of 12.95 in Birmingham last August and then smashed Dayron Robles’ World record with a time of 12.80 at the Diamond League final in Brussels, and is looking forward to another productive summer.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at the Sainsbury’s Grand Prix – Birmingham and testing myself against another world class field. Other hurdlers are running quick times this year so I’m sure we’ll all push each other and put on a great show for the Birmingham crowd,” said the American.
“2012 was a breakthrough year for me but now I need to make sure I stay on top. I would love to add a World title to my Olympic one so this is another big summer for me.”
Another event with all three Olympic medallists from London is the men’s Shot Put; Poland’s two-time champion Tomasz Majewski will be joined by Germany’s silver medallist David Storl and US bronze medallist Reese Hoffa.
Organisers for the IAAF
IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep