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July 2013 may well go down as one of the greatest sporting months in British history. Within the span of the month's first 22 days, Britain has seen it's fair share of historic and memorable moments: Scotland's Andy Murray became the first native men's singles Wimbledon champion in 77 years; Chris Froome earned the nation's second consecutive Tour de France title; Muirfield in Scotland hosted a thrilling British Open that saw Lee Westwood atop the leaderboard late in the tournament; England holds a 2-0 series lead in the famed Ashes cricket series, the most famed match in the sport.
Performances on the track only serve to further emphasize the month's achievements.
Last Friday, double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah charged hard in the final lap of the Herculis 1500m, earning a runner-up finish at the IAAF Diamond League Meeting in Monaco. Not only did he finish in a massive personal best of 3:28.81 --number six all-time-- the 30-year-old also broke the European and British records for the event.
"I am shocked in a great way," Steve Cram, the former British record holder who was commentating the race for BBC Sport said. "Mo jokingly said he was after the British record and I laughed but hats off to him. For a 5,000m runner to run like that is unbelievable."
Farah's race in Monaco adds to the list of Britons racing well over the first three weeks in July, particularly in distance disciplines. Last weekend, European U23 Championships medals were won by Charlie Grice (1500m silver, 3:44.41), Thomas Farrell (5000m silver, 14:19.94), and Laura Muir (1500m bronze, 4:08.19). At the IAAF World Youth Championships, Kyle Langford took bronze over 800m in a personal best of 1:48.32.
On the senior circuit, the Sainsbury's British Athletics Championships saw good competition despite hot conditions, with sprinter James Dasaolu breaking 10.00 seconds for 100 meters, and World Championships silver medalist Hannah England earning the 1500m title, both securing team berths for next month's IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
Adding to the hype over the weekend was a very strong European Junior Championships, where Emelia Gorecka, Jake Wightman, and Zak Seddon all took home gold medals (3000m, 1500m, and 3000m steeplechase, respectively). Jonathan Davies earned bronze in the 5000m.
"I’m over the moon to finally get a gold at a track championship," Gorecka told British Athletics. "About half way round I realised there was a Turkish athlete behind me, and a couple of years ago I got out-sprinted by a Turk, so all I was thinking about was pushing on and not letting it happen again!"
To continue the historic month, the week-long celebration of the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games kicked off on Sunday with the The National Lottery Anniversary Run through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, finishing on the Olympic Stadium track. Famed athletes such as marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe and double Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton took part in the festivities.
The Sainsbury's Anniversary Games, to be held Friday and Saturday July 26-27 in the stadium, surely will find a place among the history made in the seventh month. Promised are a number of Olympic champions including Farah and Usain Bolt. The meet is the eleventh stop of the IAAF Diamond League, and sold out 120,000 tickets in 75 minutes.
The entire nation has taken hold of the sporting success recently, celebrating and enjoying the top spot in numerous sports. So will July, 2013, go down as the best sporting month ever for Britain?
Maybe, but it will have to contend with the 17-day period from July 27 to August 12 of last year, when Britain won 65 total medals in London as they hosted the Olympic Games, including 29 gold. Six of these came from athletics, with three golds being won in the span of one hour by Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Greg Rutherford.
Debate aside, July 2013 has been one to remember for all of Britain.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg