The last Diamond League meeting and second final in Brussels turned out to be as good as it could ever get. There were commanding performances and another 16 DL champions emerged as the meeting concluded. Each winner received a cash prize of US $ 40000, a glittering diamond trophy crafted by Beyer of Zurich, one of the oldest and most respected jewelers in the world since 18th century and most importantly, since 2014 happens to be an even year, each winner got an automatic wild card for the IAAF World Championships.
For some time, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko have been trying to best the 21-year old 2.45m high jump world record of Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor. They have moved closer but the record stays unbroken. In Brussels, they gave it another try. Barshim initially looked uncertain and failed to clear 2.28m. Bondarenko led early by clearing 2.28, 2.34, 2.37. When Barshim failed even 2.37, the bar was raised to 2.40. This time both Barshim and Bondarenko cleared 2.40. At 2.43, while Barshim went over flawlessly, Bondarenko failed. In a bid to beat the world record, both players agreed for 2.46. They both failed despite great attempts and Barshim emerged as the winner to claim the DL title. It was the third time this year that Bondarenko finished second behind Barshim, whose winning leap was one of the seven world-leading marks in Brussels.
For Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, 2014 athletics season ended with a victory in 100m and a non-DL 200m. Gatlin was honored as the best DL athlete and claimed the 4-carat diamonds on offer for his achievement. Gatlin is no Usain Bolt but he has recently been running as well as ever. Bolt has been out of action for too long, except running one lap at 2014 Commonwealth Games in the 4×100 relay; 100m on Rio beach and 100m at Warsaw indoors. But that is not competition. In Brussels, Gatlin completed the greatest single-day sprint-double in athletic history and finished both events as runaway winner. He destroyed the best 100m field that included fellow American Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell. Exploding from the blocks like a rocket, Gatlin was ahead of the pack even at the halfway mark and finished with year’s best time of 9.77s. Second placed Michael Rodgers took 9.93. Despite missing four out of seven DL races, Gatlin still got the DL title. One hour later, Gatlin competed in the non-DL 200m with entirely different participants and won impressively in 19.71, the second-fastest time of the year.
USA’s Allyson Felix won the DL title in women’s 200m. The London Olympic champion was 2 points ahead of Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare before Brussels, but on Friday she excelled to finish first in 22.02s and claim the DL title. Okagbare finished a disappointing sixth. Another world-leading mark came in the men’s pole vault with Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie making history by claiming the DL title for the fifth time in a row with a 5.93m clearance, a new world lead. Since the inception of IAAF Diamond League in 2010, no other athlete has won the DL title in men’s pole vault.
Women’s 400m was won by Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross in 49.98s, Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson was second and Jamaican Novlene Williams-Mills third. But Williams-Mills won the DL title, based on her overall performance. In women’s 100m hurdles, Kristi Castlin won in 12.76 seconds to beat local girl Anne Zagre, who was second with 12.84. In another stellar performance at Brussels, Jairus Birech won men’s 3000m steeplechase in under 8 minutes. Having already been assured of the DL title, Birech was brilliant in Brussels to finish in 7:58.41. Mahiedine Mekhissi took the second place.
Earlier, the Brussels meeting got to a great start, when Barbora Spotakova threw the javelin to 67.99m for a world lead performance and new meet record and in shot put, reigning champion Valerie Adams hurled the shot to 20.59m to win the event. Taoufik Makhloufi emerged victorious in men’s 1500m by finishing in 3:31.78, merely 0.02 seconds ahead of Kenyan Silas Kiplagat, who still won the DL title by virtue of his overall performance. Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer won the women’s 400m hurdles in 54.12seconds with Czech Republic’s Denisa Rosolova and Britain’s Eilidh Child finishing second and third. Spencer won the DL title. Brenda Martinez was first in women’s 800m in 1:58.54. DL leader Eunice Sum took the third spot but that was enough to get her the DL title. In 110m hurdles for men, Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde finished first in 13.10s, ahead of Cuba’s Orlando Ortega and deservedly won the DL title. In men’s long jump, the DL title went to South Africa’s Godfrey Mokoena. His best jump of 8.19m was too long for his Dutch rival Ignisious Gaisah. In women’s triple jump, Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen was a runaway DL winner to finish first in 14.98 in her final attempt.
Germany’s discus king Robert Harting hurled 67.57m but lost the DL title to Poland’s Piotr Malachowski, who finished second in Brussels with 67.35m. In women’s 3000m, Kenyan woman Mercy Cherono emerged as the DL winner after she came first in 8:28.95. Holland’s Sifan Hassan was second in 8:29.38.
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