24 May Eightlane Preview // Great CityGames in Manchester

The BT Great CityGames returns for its fifth consecutive year at the centre of Deansgate tomorrow. 2013 sees the games hold one of its strongest fields yet in what is to be an explosive day of track and field action!

London 2012 triple gold medallist Allyson Felix tops the line up, running in the 150m straight race and was set to be against 100m Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Sadly though the Jamaican has had to pull out of the event due to injury, the 200m champion though still faces tough competition with 2010 World junior champion Jodie Williams. The Great Britain star returns from injury and will have only eyes on Moscow in August after her heartbreak of missing a home games.

Switching over to the men’s 150m and it is French athlete Christophe Lemaitre who will be pushing to see how close he can get to Usain’s Bolt 14.35 second record set in 2009. Lemaitre the first ever-white athlete to break the ten-second barrier had a disappointing 2012 only ending in 6th place in the 200m final in London. He spoke though of how this year he looks to break that 33 year European 200m record set by Pietro Mennea and see’s only medals on his neck as a good season for an athlete who is only just 22.

The European champion comes up against the never aging Kim Collins who at 37 is still clocking times of 10.04 seconds in his most recent race. That leaves home pair Dwain Chambers and James Ellington who will revel in such competition, Ellington comes into this race on the back of an impressive 100m win at the Loughborough International, whilst Chambers will want to show he can still battle with the top athletes in Europe with the Team Championships only under a month away.

gregrutherfordGoing just across the road at Albert Square holds the athletics arena with the Pole Vault and Long Jump throughout the day. The expected capacity crowd will have the opportunity to watch Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford who spoke of his love for Manchester especially his club Manchester United. He comes up against his joint British record holder Chris Tomlinson in what should be an interesting battle. With Rutherford believing in relaxed conditions such as this big jumps could be achieved is it possible a record even?

Rutherford had other ideas after being asked the question by Eightlane reporter Charlie Gibson “When you were in Birmingham last year you spoke about running the 100m do you still planning on do that and did you ever consider it in Manchester?”.

He replied, “Funnily enough yes and i was originally going to run in Manchester but it didn’t work out with the timetable.”

Gibson then says “10.1’s?”, in which Rutherford replied “Yes, definitely 10.1’s with the right block of training runway speed has basically proved it, i want to have decent races and get my body getting used to it.” The BBC ran with this story from Gibson’s lead.

Other events on the track see both 200m hurdle races hold current Olympic champions of the 400m hurdle event. Firstly, Russian’s Natalya Antyukh will face tough competition from GB pair in European Indoor gold and silver medallists Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child. Both showing they are looking to make a serious impact on the world stage this year. Whilst Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez also faces two home talents in 200m hurdle world record holder Andy Turner and Jack Green.

Finally after the revelation of the London 2012 Paralympics, the BT Great CityGames includes Paralympic athletes for the first time as the sport continues to grow. This year features T44 100M Olympic champion Jonnie Peacock and T43 200m champion Alan Oliveira. Peacock spoke of how much a home crowd means to him having not run since his London success and hopes to build on knocking down his world record this season. In the women’s 100m T44 race see’s 200m champion Marlou Van Rhijn (NED) up against GB’s Stefanie Reid making the change from the long jump silver medal she won in London.

With these only the highlight of the day, it makes for a great day of high quality athletics and with the right conditions anything is possible!

The event will be shown live on BBC1 from 13:00-14:30. Follow @eightlanenews for updates and all interviews to follow! Full Start Lists HERE

Article by Charlie Gibson & Photography by Luke Betts