Athletics: Holmes captures performance award

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The Independent Online

Holmes collected the prize for World Female Performance of the Year from Prince Albert at the Grimaldi Forum - in recognition of the first of her two Olympic victories in Athens, at 800m.

There was no doubt what was the performance of the day in the Stade Louis II yesterday. Saif Saeed Shaheen missed his 3,000 metres steeplechase world record by just 3.32sec on the concluding afternoon of the IAAF World Athletics Finals, stopping the track-side clock at 7min 56.95sec. For the absent Kelly Holmes, however, it was her performance of the year that mattered.

Having decided to end her marathon track season on the high of her 1500m victory on Saturday, the British queen of middle-distance running sat out the 800m yesterday afternoon, but found herself back on the winner's podium last night at the annual World Athletics Gala. Although she was pipped by the Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva to the honour of World Female Athlete of the Year, Holmes collected the prize for World Female Performance of the Year from Prince Albert at the Grimaldi Forum - in recognition of the first of her two Olympic victories in Athens, at 800m.

The 34-year-old "golden girl" of British athletics can expect more of the same on the end-of-year awards circuit. And deservedly so. First, though, she has the small matter of a competitive encore on the paths of Newcastle's Quayside in the Great North Mile next Saturday.

"I'm looking forward to that," Holmes said. "It will be great to run on home turf. I didn't want to run today because there was no real goal for me. I ran yesterday because I wanted to finish at the top of the world rankings for 1500m. I've never done that before. It was a brilliant way to finish the season."

Watched by Sir Roger Bannister, who collected an award at last night's Gala in recognition of the 50th anniversary of his historic sub-four-minute mile, the Kentish woman swooped to victory in the home straight, pulling clear of Tatyana Tomashova, the Russian Olympic silver medallist who had beaten her in Berlin the previous Sunday, to win in 4min 4.55sec.

In doing so, she earned a prize of $30,000 (£16,700) for what was to be the only British success of the two-day meeting that brought down the curtain on the international track-and-field season. The best-placed Briton yesterday was Jo Pavey. She pocketed $7,000 (£3,900) for fourth place in the 3,000m, clocking 8min 40.22sec. For Isinbayeva, there was no $100,000 (£55,800) world record bonus in the pole vault.



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