Elaine Thompson-Herah wins the 100m at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (© Getty Images)
Global champions Elaine Thompson-Herah and Jacob Kiplimo beat competitive fields to win their respective events on the first two days of stadium track and field action at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Two weeks after taking 100m bronze at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, Thompson-Herah lined up in Birmingham in pursuit of her first individual Commonwealth title, having earned 4x100m gold in 2014 and silver in 2018.
England’s Daryll Neita had impressed in the semifinals with a PB of 10.90, but in the final it was St Lucia’s Julien Alfred who posed the strongest challenge to Thompson-Herah. The Jamaican kept her composure, however, and won in 10.95 (0.4m/s) from Alfred (11.01) and Neita (11.07).
Just moments earlier, Ferdinand Omanyala won Kenya’s first Commonwealth 100m title. The African record-holder got a strong start and held off defending champion Akani Simbine of South Africa. Omanyala eventually opened up a metre on the rest of the field, winning in 10.02 (-0.9m/s) from Simbine (10.13) and Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon (10.14).
Canadian record-holder Sarah Mitton saved her best for last in the women’s shot put. Fired up by narrowly missing out on a medal at the World Championships, the 26-year-old unleashed a sixth-round effort of 19.03m to move into the lead, overtaking 2019 world silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd by five centimetres. New Zealand’s world and Olympic finalist Maddison-Lee Wesche was third with 18.84m.
On Tuesday (2), the first day of stadium track and field action, world half marathon champion Jacob Kiplimo controlled the closing stages of the men’s 10,000m and produced a well-timed finish to win his first international title on the track.
For most of the race, the 21-year-old Ugandan sat in the middle of the pack, content to let others lead. Kiplimo moved to the front on the 20th lap, tracked by Kenya’s Daniel Simiu Ebenyu and former world half marathon record-holder Kibiwott Kandie. With little more than a kilometre to go, Kandie started to fade but Ebenyu stuck doggedly to Kiplimo and even briefly took the lead on the last lap.
World and Olympic bronze medallist Kiplimo kicked back off the final turn, though, and opened up a significant gap on Ebenyu, eventually crossing the line in 27:09.19 to take 10 seconds off the Games record set four years ago by his compatriot Joshua Cheptegei. Ebenyo took second place in a PB of 27:11.26 while Kandie held on for bronze in 27:20.34, also a PB.
Just 24 hours later, there was another thrilling finish to a 10,000m final as Eilish McColgan responded to the challenge of Kenya’s Irene Cheptai to win in a Games record of 30:48.60.
McColgan, who finished 10th in this event at the recent World Championships, had dictated the pace for most of the race, going through the first half in 15:38.0. Cheptai, joined by compatriot Sheila Kiprotich, then maintained a healthy pace at the front for most of the second half. McColgan took brief stints at the front but Cheptai regained control on the last lap. Roared on by the crowd, McColgan inched into the lead on the home straight and went on to win in 30:48.60 with Cheptai taking silver (30:49.52) and Kiprotich earning bronze (31:09.46). The first seven women finished inside the previous Games record which had stood for 20 years.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson successfully defended her heptathlon title, marking a turning point in what has so far been a frustrating year for the Briton.
The 2019 world champion took the lead after clearing a season’s best of 1.84m in the high jump. She ended the first day by winning the 200m in 23.70, and maintained her overall lead to the end of the competition, helped by a 44.33m PB in the javelin. She finished with a season’s best of 2:13.93 in the 800m, which gave her a final score of 6377 – more than 100 points better than her winning score from 2018.
“I’m so, so happy with how today went,” said the 29-year-old. “I’ve had a tough couple of years and a difficult week. My grandmother passed away earlier this week after I got back from Oregon, so I want to dedicate this victory to Mary Johnson.”
Kate O’Connor, representing Northern Ireland, was second with 6233, and England’s Jade O’Dowda third with 6212.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics