Athletics

Felix leads Team North America to victory at Inspiration Games

Six-time Olympic gold medallist won 150m and 3x100m relay in California while Noah Lyles was found to have run less than his scheduled 200m distance.

By Rory Jiwani ·

The Inspiration Games lived up to their name on Thursday (9 July) with Allyson Felix starring in the 150m.

The six-time Olympic gold medallist, running in Walnut, California, beat Shaunae Miller-Uibo with Swiss sprinter Mujinga Kambundji third.

Felix also anchored an all-American team - also featuring Candace Hill and Tianna Bartoletta to victory in the women's 3x100m relay.

Meanwhile, human error prevented Noah Lyles from winning the men's 200m.

Despite a strong headwind in Bradenton, Florida, Lyles was originally timed in an improbable 18.90s, well inside Usain Bolt's world record of 19.19s.

But it was found Lyles started from the wrong place and actually ran just 185m.

That saw him relegated to third behind Christophe Lemaitre and Churandy Martina.

In the end, Felix's Team North America took a comfortable victory ahead of Team Europe and Team World.

Allyson Felix wins the Inspiration Games 150m in Walnut, California

Innovation and inspiration

Athletes linked up from locations in Europe and the United States in the innovative meet with the women's 150m the first event on the track.

Home favourite Kambundji ran solo in Zurich with Felix in California and reigning Olympic 400m champion Miller-Uibo in Bradenton, Florida.

Using the gun in Zurich as a reference, Felix won in 16.81s with Miller-Uibo second in 17.15s from Kambundji.

Afterwards, Felix told the on-track interviewer she found the experience "very strange" and missed the energy of a crowd and fellow competitors.

She added, "I don't think there's anything that can compare to that, but I love this sport so any chance to get out here and run - it's been a long time - I'm all about it."

"We see what hardship everyone is going through, and we just want to bring a little bit of joy, pause a moment and appreciate sport." - Allyson Felix

There was something approaching farce in Bradenton where Lyles was thought by some to have smashed the world record in the 200m.

As it was, he ran from the wrong start line which saw him cover a full 15m less than he should have.

Noah Lyles after crossing the line in the Inspiration Games 200m in Bradenton, Florida

The win went to Christophe Lemaitre in 20.65s with the Rio 2016 bronze medallist running in Zurich ahead of Churandy Martina at the Dutch Olympic training centre in Papendal.

Before the start error had been confirmed, Lyles told the on-track reporter that he had been pleased with his start last weekend in the Showdown in Otown alongside 2004 Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin having worked hard on that aspect in the extended off-season.

He said, "I definitely got to test that out when I raced against Justin last week. I held my own so I felt really confident in how much I've been improving."

On his performance, the world 200m champion revealed, "It actually felt pretty good besides getting that full blast of the wind. I felt that I set up the turn really nice - I've been working on that a lot, using my arm swing to generate that momentum to generate around the turn."

Exclusive! Noah Lyles reveals: "I was breaking on the inside."

Noah Lyles has opened up about his trying times ahead of being crowned 200m...

Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi had a disappointing first competitive outing of the season.

The Ultimate Garden Clash winner no-heighted in Walnut with three failures at her opening height of 4.46m.

Having had a similar experience last weekend in Gothenburg, Sweden's Angelica Bengtsson did manage to register two clearances in Karlstad.

But she could not manage 4.56m with world and Olympic silver medallist Sandi Morris taking victory.

The American went over 4.56m at the first attempt before underlining her triumph, and her recovery from a knee injury, with a second-time clearance at 4.66m.

Also jumping in Bradenton, world champion Sam Kendricks made it a double for Team North America.

Valentin Lavillenie, brother of London 2012 gold medallist Renaud, no-heighted after three failures at 5.36m leaving Kendricks and Poland's Piotr Lisek to fight it out.

Lisek cleared 5.66m but had three failures at 5.76m with Kendricks going over at the second time of asking.

The American then cleared 5.81m at the first attempt but had three failures at 5.91m.

Sam Kendricks on his way to victory in the Inspiration Games pole vault in Bradenton, Florida

The men's 100-yard dash was a rare conventional affair with triple Rio 2016 medallist Andre De Grasse lining up alongside France's European record holder Jimmy Vicaut and reigning Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod in Bradenton.

It was De Grasse who came out on top, winning in 9.68s from Vicaut in 9.72 and Jamaican McLeod third in 9.87.

Afterwards, the Canadian said, "I felt like I was in great shape coming off last next year winning a silver and a bronze (at the Worlds). I just wanted to ride that momentum into next year.

"I've been working a lot on my start before the pandemic because I knew that was going to be the key to me getting that gold medal. I mean, It's pretty tough to go through this but everyone's going through it.

"We've just got to fight through it and figure out what's next and hopefully things will turn around. And if this is the new norm for next year, you've just got to be ready." - Andre De Grasse speaking after winning the 100 yards

Andre De Grasse (C) wins the Inspiration Games 100 yards in Bradenton, Florida from Jimmy Vicaut (R) and Omar McLeod

In front of a small socially-distanced crowd in Lisbon, Portugal's Pedro Pablo Pichardo won the triple jump with 17.40m.

Jumping in Bradenton, double Olympic champion Christian Taylor was second with 17.27m ahead of Walnut-located Jamaica's Omar Craddock on 17.04m.

And there were more points in Walnut for Team North America as Georganne Moline clocked 39.08s to beat European champion Lea Sprunger and two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova in the 300m hurdles.

Lea Sprunger runs the Inspiration Games 300m hurdles in Zurich