Lasswade’s Commonwealth Games finalist Guy Learmonth, who twice clashed with 800m world record-holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha at Hampden, is to get another tilt at the famous Kenyan in tomorrow’s Diamond League Sainsbury’s Grand Prix meeting in Birmingham – this time over 600m.
It was over the same distance indoors in the GB International at the Emirates Arena last winter that Learmonth made his big breakthrough, winning in a Scottish record of 1:16.48 and the 22-year-old Berwick-based student will be hoping to improve considerably on that outdoors provided the conditions are favourable. Rudisha holds the UK All-Comers record at a startling 1:14.30, which he set during his memorable 2012 world record 800 metres victory.
The British record stands in the name of Wolverhampton’s Steve Heard at 1:14.95 and was set 23 years ago.
Both Adam Kszczot, (1:14.55) the new European 800 metres champion (and Diamond League winner at Stockholm last Thursday night), and Casimir Loxsom (USA) (1:14.84) are in the field tomorrow and have run faster than the British best.
The Birmingham meeting promises to be a real end-of-season celebration with most of Britain’s record 12 European champions from Zurich last week on show including Scotland’s Eilidh Child (Pitreavie), who triumphed in the 400 metres hurdles to strike gold for the first time at a major meeting.
Depending on how tired she is, both physically and mentally (the strain of being the poster girl for Glasgow 2014 where she struck silver followed in close succession by the Europeans in Zurich may have taken its toll) the 27-year-old Kinross hero might be forgiven for not being at her sharpest, but Child still has ambitions, not least to break her own Scottish record of 54.22 secs and go under 54 seconds.
In addition to the Commonwealth champion Kaliese Spencer (Jamaica), who beat her for gold at Hampden and has a best of 53.41 secs the field includes three Americans who have all run faster than Child in the past, though not necessarily on form now. Kori Carter has a best of 53.21 and has done 53.84 this year, Georgeanne Moline has run 53.72 and 54.00 in 2014 while Tiffany Williams has a PB of 53.28, but only 54.74 this season.
Spencer leads the Diamond League standings for the event with 18 points, with Child fourth on three points, just one point behind Moline, so there is good money to aim for.
The Capital’s European and Commonwealth silver medallist Lynsey Sharp (Edinburgh AC) may also feel there is unfinished business and cash to be won in the 800 metres. Commonwealth champion Eunice Sum of Kenya, best of 1:57.38, heads tomorrow’s entry and is the clear Diamond League leader with 18 points. American Ajee Wilson, best of 1:57.67, is second with seven points while veteran Canadian Diane Cummins has a best of 1:58.39.
But Sharp, fresh from her new Scottish record of 1:58.80 in Zurich, might be keen to test her new world status and get in the mix.
Also entered, though much the slowest on paper (2:02.92 this season) will be Glasgow’s Laura Muir who came back to something like her best form with a sixth place in the Stockholm Diamond League meeting last Thursday.
Missing from the Emsley Carr Mile tomorrow will be Chris O’Hare (EAC) who has decided to call quits on a long, tiring season after taking the 1500 metres bronze in Zurich with an incredibly gutsy sprint from eighth place at the end of the back straight.