Randall’s Island has had a long history of accommodating world class track and field. Downing Stadium hosted the 1936 Olympic Trials and gave the world a preview of Jesse Owens’ promise for the Berlin Olympics. The last major meet at the old stadium in 1991 saw Leroy Burrell set a new World Record in the 100m. The adidas Grand Prix (which began as the Reebok Grand Prix) was the first major event held on the island in 2005. In five years, the event has grown in every measurable statistic.
The 14-meet international Diamond League kicked off this year, with the adidas Grand Prix one of two in the United States on the prestigious circuit. Before the end of the day, an astonishing total of 11 meet records would fall. To get things off to a great start, young French sensation Teddy Tamgho became the third-best triple jumper of all time when he uncorked a ferocious jump of 17.98 meters/59 feet to defeat both Christian Olsson and Phillips Idowu. Continuing the great Jamaica-U.S. rivalry here, two-time Olympic gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown put on a stunning display in the 200 meters, blazing to a win over three-time World Champion Allyson Felix in 21.98 in their first meeting at this distance on U.S. soil. It would be the fastest time in the world for all of 2010, and the fastest run in the U.S. in almost a decade. Valerie Vili (shot put), Nicholas Kemboi (1500m), Kerron Clement (400m hurdles) and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (800m) were among the rest in the star-studded international field who posted meet records.
Continuing in the Grand Prix's tradition of top 5000m races, Kenya's Olympic bronze medalist Micah Kogo inched past America's double World Champion Bernard Lagat in the final meters to win in 13:02.90, a new meet record and the fastest 5000m ever recorded on US soil. Rising middle-distance star and 2008 Olympic steeplechase finalist Anna Pierce (née Willard) beat a field of 800m specialists to win a world-leading time of 1:59.29. Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt continued his winning ways in the 400m, while Tyson Gay, whose injury setbacks ruined his own medal chances at the Beijing Olympics, announced his return to the athletics world with a stunning 19.58sec win in the Men’s 200m. At the time, Gay’s run was the third fastest in history, and is still the fastest ever run outside of an Olympic or World Championship final.
The 4th edition of this event confirmed America’s most recent Grand Prix as one of the best in the world, where international talent dominated the headlines. Kenya’s Paul K. Koech won the 3000m Steeplechase by in a world-leading 8:01.85. Bahrain’s middle distance stars claimed both the Men and Women’s 800m races: Yusuf Saad Kamel broke the meet record on the men’s side, while Maryam Jusuf Jamal won the women’s race. And while Jamaica’s Olympic and World Champion Veronica Campbell-Brown ran an impressive 10.91 to win the Women’s 100m, it was another Jamaican that stole the headlines and wrote himself into the history books. Usain Bolt shocked the world, winning the 100m in 9.72secs.
IAAF World Cup Champion Tyson Gay won the 100m in dominating fashion, clocking 9.76sec, a time that would have broken Asafa Powell’s world record, had the wind not been 0.2m/s over the allowable limit. On the infield, rising US star Jenn Stuczynski set her second American record in as many weeks in the Pole Vault, jumping 4.88m to become the second highest vaulter in history. In second place was China’s Gao Shuying, also breaking her own continental record with a still standing clearance of 4.64m. In the Men’s High Hurdles, Olympic Champion Liu Xiang came back from an early deficit to win in 12.92, with double Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell second in 12.95, the first sub-13 of his career.
The unseasonably cold and wet night in 2006 did nothing to aid the sprinters but the conditions certainly helped the Men and Women in the 5000m. In the men’s race, Kenyan Abraham Chebii held off his compatriots Micah Kogo and Benjamin Limo to win in 13:04.56, breaking the North American All-Comers record that had been set by Saïd Aouita in winning the 1984 Olympic 5000m title. The real headline grabber, however, was reigning Olympic Champion Meseret Defar’s World Record time of 14:24.53.
Even in it’s first year, the adidas Grand Prix, then known as the Reebok Grand Prix, distinguished itself as one of top meets in the world, featuring no fewer than eleven Olympic and World Champions, including Maurice Greene, Shawn Crawford, Allen Johnson, Liu Xiang, Meseret Defar, Tirunesh Dibaba and John Godina, to name a few.