Athletics round-up: Improving Grabarz and Lewis continue to raise the bar

 

Two weeks after stepping on to the podium at the London Olympics, Robbie Grabarz continues to hit the heights. A brilliant bronze medal winner at the home Games, the burgeoning high jumper now has joint ownership of the British outdoor record.

Grabarz was at the heart of a gripping competition at the Diamond League meeting in Lausanne last night and his first-time clearance at 2.37m equalled the British outdoor record set in Seoul in 1992 by the Liverpool Harrier Steve Smith. The absolute British record in the event stands at 2.38m to Smith – set indoors at Wuppertal in Germany in February 1994 – and Grabarz proceeded to have three stabs at bettering that.

Each of the Briton's attempts at 2.39m ended in failure. Moutaz Essa Barshim, a fellow bronze medallist in London, cleared at the second time of asking, the young Qatari taking victory ahead of Olympic champion Ivan Ukvoh, who edged second place from Grabarz on countback. All three either equalled or bettered the 2.37m meeting record set in 1994 by world record holder Javier Sotomayor of Cuba.

It was also a good night for Steve Lewis as the 26-year-old followed up his fifth place at the Olympics by clearing 5.80m in the pole vault for third place on countback behind Olympic champion Renaud Lavillrnie of France and Molte Mohr of Germany.

Perri Shakes-Drayton went out fast in the 400m hurdles and entered the home straight level with Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica. The 23-year-old Londoner faded thereafter, Spencer pulling clear to win in 53.49sec, with another Jamaican, 2008 Olympic champion Melaine Walker, coming through for second place in 53.74sec.Shakes-Drayton finished third in 53.84sec, beating two 2012 Olympic medallists, Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic and Natalya Antyukh of Russia. The Briton herself had a disappointing Games, exiting at the semi-final stage. "I had an injury in my hamstring," she reflected. "Obviously I was gutted but I've got to put that behind me now."

Lawrence Okoye gave himself food for thought as he continued to contemplate his future. The 20-year-old Croydon Harrier has broached the possibility of a return to rugby union in the aftermath of his disappointing 12th-placed finish in the Olympic discus final. Last night, though, he returned to form, unleashing a 65.79m effort in the opening round to take second place behind Olympic bronze medallist Gerd Kanter of Estonia (65.79m).

Okoye's Croydon club-mate Martyn Rooney won the battle of the Brits in the 400m, finishing sixth in 45.82sec, two places and 0.30sec ahead of Conrad Williams. Kirani James, the majestic Olympic champion from Grenada, was a class apart, a clear winner in 44.37sec.

Yamile Aldama's frustrating year continued in the triple jump as she took two failed attempts before retiring from the competition. The 40-year-old won the World Indoor Championships in March with a 14.82m effort but then struggled to overcome a shoulder injury, finishing fifth in the Olympic final.

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