CHAMPION hurdlers Andrew Pozzi and Aries Merritt provided the major shock of the evening as the Arcadis Great CityGames Manchester returned to the city centre streets for its tenth edition.
While much of the pre-race betting was on a duel between World Indoor champion Pozzi and former Olympic champion Merritt, both stumbled on the final two hurdles to allow Polish hurdler Damian Czykier to take full advantage and snatch an unlikely victory.
Elsewhere, pre event favourites Allyson Felix and Jazmin Sawyers both missed out on victory in the women’s 150m and long jump events respectively, while Harry Aikines-Aryeetey pipped countryman Richard Kilty to win the 100m, as large crowds once again turned out at the pop-up athletics track on Deansgate and Albert Square on a warm spring evening.
Jason Smyth was the first winner of the evening as the track events got under way, with the Irishman easing home in the T13 150m in 15.82 ahead of Britain’s Zak Skinner clocking 16.73 and Spain’s Diego Sanchez third in 17.33.
American Olympian Bershawn Jackson swept to victory in the 200m hurdles, with his 22.58 too much for Ireland’s Thomas Barr who was second in 23.19 and Britain’s Jacob Paul third with 23.44.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, Belarus’ Alina Talay won in 12.74, ahead of Norway’s Isabelle Pedersen who clocked 13.03 on her way to second place. Britain’s Alicia Barrett was third in 13.42.
It was an all-British foursome in the men’s 100m, with only 0.18 seconds separating first and fourth as Aikines Aryeetey and Kilty went from England 4x100m Commonwealth gold-winning team mates to rivals. Aikines-Aryeetey’s 10.35 saw the Sutton sprinter take the win with Stockton’s Kilty just behind in 10.37. Sam Osewa scored a season-best 10.49 on his CityGames debut.
Sophie Hahn was a winner in the T37/T38 150m, dipping under 20 seconds to clock 19.29 ahead of compatriot Georgie Hermitage who was second in 20.76. Britain’s Beth Tucker was a distant third in 22.15.
Then came the biggest surprise of the night as Pozzi and Merritt stumbled on their final hurdles – Merritt’s the biggest of them all as he surrendered the lead and almost fell to finish fourth in 14.34. Czykier pipped Britain’s David King to take the win with 13.67 ahead of King’s 13.83. Pozzi was third with 13.90.
The men’s 150m went as predicted, with Leon Reid easing home in 15.52, just ahead of Holland’s Solomon Bockarie in second clocking 15.57. Norway’s Jonathan Quarcoo was third in 15.75.
The final race of the evening saw Marie Ta Lou see off Felix who failed to replicate her record-breaking victory earned on Deansgate five years ago. The Ivorian clocked 16.60 to take the win, with Felix finishing second with 16.72 and Britain’s Bianca Williams third with 17.09.
In the field events, Stanley Joseph took victory in the pole vault on Albert Square, clearing 5.60, leaving Luke Cutts second on 5.30 and Matteo Capello third, also with 5.30 – Cutts pipping the Italian on countback.
France’s Eloyse Lesueur took a season best 6.58 to win the women’s long jump, with Sawyers jumping 6.43 on her fourth attempt, ahead of Portugal’s Teresa Carvalho with 6.16.