Glittering Grabarz eyes perfect end to breakthrough season

 

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The Independent Online

Beating Ivan Ukhov was reason enough for Robbie Grabarz to be happy with his afternoon shift yesterday at the Birmingham track where he puts in his daily graft. Still, there are prizes other than the scalp of the Olympic high jump champion.

Such as the Diamond League high jump jackpot of $40,000 [£25,300] that the 24-year-old Briton is now on course to claim. After securing victory in the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix yesterday with a 2.32m clearance – ahead of the Russian Ukhov, the runner up with 2.28m – Grabarz stands top of the rankings with just one event to go.

If he finishes ahead of the out-of-sorts world champion Jesse Williams in Zurich on Thursday, the Cambridgeshire athlete who was dropped from Lottery funding a year ago will land the big cash prize. "Hooray!" the Olympic bronze medallist exclaimed, when the scenario was put to him. "That sounds good. Four days of concentration left."

Grabarz grabbed a $10,000 payout just for his victory in the Diamond League meeting yesterday. If he wins again in Zurich he will get $50,000. Asked how that compared to his earnings from the whole of 2011, he replied: "About $50,000."

This time last year Grabarz was competing for nothing in the McCain UK Challenge Final at the Alexander Stadium. He was ranked 44th in the world and lost his Lottery funding. "I was pretty skint in January," he reflected. "I've worked my ass off to get where I am now. I feel like I deserve it."

It was a tougher afternoon for Greg Rutherford. The newly crowned Olympic long jump champion was troubled by a groin problem and missed three of his efforts in mid-completion to have emergency treatment. He eventually finished third with a disappointing 7.88m.

"I haven't stopped since the Olympics," he said. "There's been no respite at all. I was out on the pitch at Old Trafford last night. I'm a big Manchester United fan, so for me that was really special."

There might have been a British victory in the women's 400m hurdles but after being promoted from runner-up when Kaliese Spencer was disqualified for failing to properly clear one of the 10 hurdles with her trailing leg, Perri Shakes-Drayton was knocked back down to second after a successful appeal by the Jamaican athlete. Still, the Briton, who clocked 54.08sec, did finish ahead of the Olympic bronze medallist Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic (54.14sec) and the Olympic champion Natalya Antyukh of Russia (54.95sec).

Having failed to get past the Olympic semi-finals after being hit by an ill-timed hamstring problem, that came as some post-Games compensation. "It gives me confidence," Shakes-Drayton said. "I would have been happy with my race today, no matter if I came first or second. I've put the disappointment of the Olympics behind me."

Christine Ohuruogu had a far from disappointing Olympics, backing up her gold medal 400m run in Beijing with a silver in the one-lap event. The Londoner finished second again yesterday, clocking 50.67sec behind the victorious Rosemarie Whyte of Jamaica (56.20sec). The 18-year-old sprinter Adam Gemili ran a personal best 20.53sec to finish sixth in the 200m.

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