Ohuruogu lights up damp Gateshead
31 Aug 2008 14:18 BST
Britain's Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu received a great reception at a wet Gateshead as she cruised to 400m glory at the British Grand Prix.
Ohuruogu, who won in a comfortable 51.27 seconds, told BBC Sport: "It means so much that so many people stayed behind in the rain to watch me."
Phillips Idowu came fourth in the triple jump but fellow silver medallist Germaine Mason won the high jump.
Jamaican Asafa Powell powered through the puddles to win the 100m in 9.87.
As the rain lashed down, the last thing the 7,000-strong crowd expected was a sub-10 second time, but the former world record holder stormed to victory in stunning style.
Powell, who only managed 9.95 in Beijing as he came fifth in the Olympic final, needed an impressive run to help him move on.
He said: "The conditions weren't perfect, but I'm very happy. It would have been different in the Olympics if I had run like this. But the past is the past and this is the present."
But the home fans, many huddled under umbrellas as the rain pelted down, were there to welcome home Britain's four Olympic medallists, and especially to pay tribute to Ohuruogo.
And, after wins for Martyn Rooney, Marilyn Okoro, Lisa Dobriskey and Goldie Sayers, they were still in fine voice as they cheered Ohuruogu, Britain's only gold medallist in Beijing, to a commanding victory in the final race of the day.
The east Londoner, set to be one of the faces of the 2012 Games, embarked on a joyous lap of honour following her victory over American Mary Wineberg and team-mate Nicola Sanders.
She added: "It was tough to come out and perform but I'm so glad I did and have the opportunity to thank them."
The atmosphere of the Bird's Nest in Beijing must have seemed a distant memory as the athletes struggled in the damp conditions. The rain was so heavy at times, the ground staff had to sweep the water off the track.
Mason, who surprised everybody with a magnificent Olympic silver, leapt 2.27m to grab more glory in the high jump, while Idowu struggled on the wet run-up and could only manage a jump of 16.42m.
Idowu, the world indoor champion, said: "I've been ill all week with a cold and a sore throat, but once I warmed up I felt better, but it wasn't there."
Tasha Danvers, bronze medallist in Beijing, battled to a third place in the women's 400m hurdles, as Jamaica's Olympic champion Melaine Walker finished ahead of the pack again.
Danvers said: "I don't care that it's raining - I'm just pleased to be back home."
Rooney kicked off the proceedings in style, cruising home in the 400m in 45.35s, while Okoro overcame some of her disappointment at not reaching the Olympic final with an impressive victory in the 800m in 1:59.49s.
Christian Malcolm could only finish fourth and Marlon Devonish was seventh as American Tyson Gay impressed in the 200m, beating team-mate Wallace Spearmon in 20.25.
American Lauryn Williams made it a sprint double on the day, winning the women's 200min in 22.66, after earlier pipping Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser to win the 100m in 11.23.
On the back of his Olympic double in the 5,000 and 10,000m, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele continued his great form to win the 3,000m, while US star Bernard Lagat won the 1,000m as Andy Baddeley, struggling with an injury, was 10th.
In the javelin, Sayers impressed again - she missed an Olympic medal by one place - by beating the field with a winning throw of 61.62m, and Dobriskey easily won the 1500m.
The form of Britain's long jumpers showed few signs of improvement, with Greg Rutherford leaping 7.71m to finish second behind Miguel Pate, with Chris Tomlinson in seventh.
One person absent for the meet was Dave Collins, UK Athletics performance director, whose future continues to be the subject of much speculation after Britain's below-par performance in Beijing.