On the eve of Birmingham’s IAAF Diamond League a host of medal-winning athletes including two of Britain’s finest ever, Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar) and Greg Rutherford (Dan Pfaff), descended upon the city to face the world’s media.
Farah will race in the 3000m on Sunday and was in buoyant mood ahead of the meeting at Alexander Stadium. After setting a time of 26:53.71 over 10,000m at the Eugene Diamond League last week, the double Olympic champion moves down in distance in front of the home crowd.
The 32 year-old said: “I love Birmingham – I’m hoping I can give something back to the fans. I want to go out there and just enjoy it. We have strong fields so it should be a good event.
“I’m still hungry and want to do the best that I can, that hasn’t changed one bit. I’m thankful to be injury-free and have the right mind set. My aim is to continue winning medals but the hardest thing is being away from my four kids. It breaks my heart but apart from that I’m still enjoying it and I love it.”
Fresh from winning in Rome on Thursday night, grand slam champion Rutherford is keen to wow the home supporters once again in the West Midlands. A win at the event last year contributed to his Diamond Race trophy triumph in 2015, and he will be hoping for more of the same to extend his unbeaten run in 2016.
Rutherford commented: “Every athlete wants to be unbeatable but it isn’t an easy feat to meet at all, especially this year as there are some very good long jumpers coming into the field who are progressing to a level which is the best it has been in a long time. I’ve been in good form and we’ve been quite clever in selecting events I’m picking.
“I love coming to compete in Birmingham – I have a pretty good track record here. So I aim to go out and win again tomorrow.”
The reigning Olympic 800m champion and world record holder David Rudisha alongside the three-time 1500m world champion Asbel Kiprop were also in attendance ahead of tomorrow’s event. Two of the greats of middle distance running will take on the 600m and 1500m respectively as they look to continue their preparations ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games.
Rudisha, who came within a second of the 600m world record the last time he competed in Birmingham, said: “I’m really excited to be racing here in Birmingham for a second time. The 600m is more like a 400m than 800m – I really want to see how well I can do tomorrow. Training has been going well so I want to see how much I can push it.”
The 2008 Olympic 1500m champion Kiprop has asked for 1:51 pace at the 800m mark tomorrow, saying: “Talking about this pace (1:51), I was told it will be sunny and 22 degrees. This is a chance to try and run fast.”
Among those joining the quartet at the world-class Birmingham event will be New Zealand’s Olympic champion shot-putter Valerie Adams, Grenada’s 400m Olympic champion Kirani James, and the USA’s Olympic and world champion Christian Taylor, who jumped the second furthest ever distance in the triple jump last year.
The Birmingham Diamond League will be live on BBC One from 1.30-5.15pm.