DAVID RUDISHA cruised to victory in the Great North CityGames to bring a record-breaking afternoon to a close.
The Kenyan double Olympic champion’s 57.69 over the rarely-raced 500m broke the world’s best time, as did Lynsey Sharp’s 1.06.62 in the women’s race.
British 400m athlete Martyn Rooney came third behind Rudisha with a national record 59.02, with perfect conditions on the banks of the Tyne providing the 25,000 spectators with a feast of top-class athletics.
Greg Rutherford continued his domination of CityGames events in the long jump, ending his season with 7.66m before swapping his spikes for sequins to take part in BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Meanwhile, there were wins for Laura Muir in the women’s mile, a national record for Desiree Henry in the women’s 150m, Danny Talbot in the men’s 150m, James Dasaolu in the men’s 100m, Jake Wightman in the men’s mile and David Omoregie in the men’s 110m hurdles to complete a great day at the office for British athletes in the first meeting on home soil since the Olympic Games in Rio, in which Team GB finished second in the medals table in their best Games since 1908.
Rudisha, who won 800m gold in 2012 and 2016, was the star attraction at the free-to-watch street athletics meeting where a 150m track was stalled alongside the Baltic in Gateshead – and the Kenyan 27-year old did not disappoint on his 500m debut.
The two-lap specialist matched Rooney step for step in the early stages, before easing away as road became track. Mark English stayed on Rudisha’s heels as Rooney fell back slightly, with the 23-year-old Irishman’s 57.91 a PB.
But it was Rudisha who took the plaudits on his first time on Tyneside.
“This was my first time over this distance so it was difficult to judge,” he said.
“I used the other 400m guys’ experience and took it from there.
“It has been fantastic to run here. There was less pressure on me today. It’s fantastic, it’s awesome to run in an event like this.
“To have athletics in the middle of a city is one of the greatest ideas.”
Sharp was the only female athlete to have competed over 500m and her experience showed as the Briton saw off Shelayna Oskan-Clarke to finish in 1.06.62. British teammate Anyika Onuora was third in 1.07.04.
Sharp said of her exploits: “I think I judged it better this time. The ramp from road to track was a bit of an obstacle but once I got on the track I knew I had it.
“I really wanted to win this – it’s a great way to end the season.”
Over on the Newcastle side of the river, Rutherford was well off the form that saw him achieve a CityGames record in Manchester – he jumped 8.20m in May – but the 29-year-old beat Lasa into second place, jumping 7.66 to seal victory.
Rutherford said: “The atmosphere was great here as always. More people seemed to be interested in Strictly than jumping, funnily enough. Hopefully there will be a crossover and more people can take an interest in long jumping.”
There was early drama for some of the athletes taking part, as those who were in Diamond League action on Friday night saw their 8am flight cancelled and were forced to make alternative plans to travel to the north-east of England.
The disruption did not affect Carina Horn adversely, as the South African – who had to catch a train to Newcastle from Brussels, ran 11.20 to see off American Barbara Pierre in 11.31 and British 4x100m bronze medal holder Asha Philip in 11.32.
Horn said: “It wasn’t the ideal preparation so I’m surprised I ran so well today. It was a great way to end the season.”
In the men’s mile, Wightman, overlooked for Rio 2016 selection, was a surprise winner ahead of Marcin Lewandowski, with Andy Butchart and Bernard Lagat finishing sixth and seventh respectively.
Wightman’s 4.05.70 was quick enough to see off Poland’s Lewandowski in 4.05.98 ahead of Australia’s Ryan Gregson in 4.06.21.
In the men’s 100m, it was a Battle of Britain as Dasaolu dipped CJ Ujah on the line to finish in 10.21 with Ujah 10.22 ahead of Ramon Gittens in 10.38.
In the women’s mile, Muir, who broke Kelly Holmes’ 12-year British record in the 1500m twice over the summer, finished her season in style with a gritty 4.33.99 on road and track to finish ahead of Alison Leonard in 4.34.42.
In the women’s 150m, Henry’s 16.57 was enough to seal the national record with the 21-year-old showing good form to end her season, ahead of American Natasha Hastings in 16.67 and Briton Jodie Williams in 16.80.
Talbot’s victory in the men’s 150m saw the 25 year old edge out Teesside Tornado Richard Kilty, in 15.06 and 15.07 respectively. American Wallace Spearmon was third in 15.19.
Tiffany Porter missed her opportunity to make it six CityGames victories on the spin, the Briton’s 12.97 finishing behind American Jackie Coward who won in 12.85. Cindy Roleder was third in 13.08.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, David Omoregie ran 13.75 to take the victory ahead of American Jarret Eaton in 13.84 and Briton David King in 13.94.
In the pole vault, Regine Kramer took victory with 4.15, with British vaulter Holly Bradshaw not placed after fouling at 4.45.