GREAT NORTH CI­TYGAMES

Athletics Weekly - - News -

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

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