GREAT NORTH CITYGAMES
Perri Shakes-Drayton, Melissa Courtney and Nijel Amos are among the winners on the NewcastleGateshead quayside
THE 500m is not only a distance which is rarely run but also just the kind of quirky race which adds to the appeal of a meeting like this.
There were two areas of intrigue around this event. Firstly came the chance to see how Olympic 800m silver medallist Nijel Amos would fare against a six-strong British contingent.
Secondly, two of that group – namely Guy Learmonth and Martyn Rooney – had done their utmost to create more interest and had a great deal of fun promoting their own personal ‘smackdown’ duel on social media.
Their pre-event publicity which mimicked that of a boxing match stemmed from a contest both had been trying to make happen for a couple of years.
The rivalry was all light-hearted, of course, with the jokes still flowing between the two on the start line.
When the gun went, however, it was Amos who took control. His was a dominant win in 59.26 and the Chelsea-supporting Botswana athlete said: “It was a great way to end the year and the win provides a motivation base for next year. I want to defend my Commonwealth title.”
Behind him a fascinating battle was going on. World 800m semi-finalist Learmonth has enjoyed a strong end to his season and he came top of the British pile, finishing second in 60.73, with Dwayne Cowan third in 61.01.
World 4x400m bronze medallist Rooney was back in sixth in 61.08 and awaiting news of what his forfeit would be.
“I think over the past few weeks Martin and I have built a lot of hype about this race,” said Learmonth.
“We had a good laugh today – I’ve had a great time. Hopefully we’ve started something and that there will be a few more head to heads like this. It can really promote the sport.”
Nijel Amos: Botswanan 800m specialist won the 500m as Guy Learmonth took domestic honours