Gateshead replaces London as venue for last Diamond League meeting before Tokyo Olympics
Gateshead to host British Grand Prixof world-class athletes this year
The Diamond League meeting on 13 July has been switched to Gateshead
The Muller British Grand Prix event, which is the last meet before the start of the Tokyo Olympics 10 days later, is the final chance for athletes to hone their preparations before the Games gets under way.
London Stadium had been slated to host the meeting on Sunday 13 July, but it has been moved to Gateshead after it was deemed too costly to change the football venue to an athletics stadium for just one event in light of the financial constraints post-pandemic.
The International Stadium hosted the opening Diamond League meeting of the 2021 season on Sunday, with world-class athletics returning to the region for the first time in 11 years.
Gateshead – which had been due to host a Diamond League meeting in 2020, only for it to be called off due to Covid-19 – had initially not been selected in the 2021 schedule, only to replace Rabat because of coronavirus restrictions.
The likes of Great Britain’s world champion Dina Asher-Smith and other GB medal hopefuls Laura Muir and Adam Gemili were in action, alongside world stars such as pole vault legend Mondo Duplantis, four-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce and a host of previous Olympic and world champions.
Wet and windy conditions made for a tough evening for competitors, but Asher-Smith defied the rain to storm to victory in the 100m, beating the fastest woman this year, Sha'Carri Richardson, as well as Fraser Pryce, to lay down a marker for the Olympics where she hopes to go one better than her 2019 world championship 100m sliver medal.
And the Brit star said she can’t wait to return to Gateshead.
Asher-Smith said: “I’m really excited to return to Gateshead on July 13 for the Müller British Grand Prix. Hopefully we will be allowed to have more fans in the stadium and the athletes will get a great send off before they go to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“My first 100m of 2021 last weekend was against some tough opposition and I’m expecting it to be another exciting race when I go back there in a few weeks’ time.”
Gateshead Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, Councillor Angela Douglas, said: “We are delighted that athletics will return to Gateshead International Stadium this summer with the Müller British Grand Prix. This is fantastic news for Gateshead and a ringing endorsement of our long-established reputation for hosting major international sporting events.
“It is such a brilliant opportunity to celebrate our great passion for sport in the region and for spectators to get up close to all the action. We look forward to supporting the athletes on their journey to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.”
Scotland's Muir stormed through the rain to an emphatic 1500m win, while Cindy Sember provided the crowd with another British victory to cheer as she took the 100m hurdles ahead of sister Tiffany Porter in fourth.
Elsewhere, American world champion Sam Kendricks beat Swedish world record-holder Duplantis in the latest instalment of their pole vault rivalry, and Norway's double European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 20, made light of the conditions to win the 1500m in 3:36.27.
After successfully welcoming back 2,000 spectators, organisers are hopeful more fans will be able to safely return to the stadium on 13 July.
Ticket information will be available soon at www.britishathletics.org.uk.