The much awaited Diamond League began last week with great performances from world’s top athletes. On Friday, the inaugural D/L meeting at Doha saw superb efforts that ended with 11 World leads, 5 Meeting and 4 DL Records. In one of the finest early season speed displays, Pedro Pablo Pichardo and Christian Taylor produced the best triple jump in D/L history. Pichardo leaped 18.06m, which was the longest jump in the world for the last 19 years. Olympic champion Christian Taylor responded with 18.04m. Though Pablo couldn’t erase Jonathan Edwards 20-year old record of 18.29m, set in 1995 world championships at Goteborg, he and Taylor entered their names as 2 of world’s 5 triple-jumpers ever to have leaped beyond 18m. Two days later in Shanghai on May 17, Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko resumed their DL high-jump rivalry. In the last two DL seasons, these two have faced each other 10 times but in Shanghai, it was Barshim who picked up four points and also the world lead. Doha and Shanghai also turned up a great weekend for many established athletes. Tianna Bartoletta began with long jump victory in Doha, where Sandra Perkovic took 4 points in discus while at Shanghai, Caterine Ibarguen excelled in women’s triple jump; Piotr Malachowski in men’s discus; Kaliese Spencer in women’s 400m hurdles; Silas Kiplagat in men’s 1500m and Eunice Sum in women’s 800m. Apart from these performances, other big moments were; Justin Gatlin’ 100m dominace at Doha and Blessing Okagbare’s superb show in women’s 100m at Shanghai. At both DL venues, a number of new faces and lesser known athletes made their presence felt by taking an early lead in the 14-Diamond-Race meetings. The major highlights from Doha and Shanghai are narrated below.
Until she arrived in Doha, Jasmin Stowers was relatively unknown, although she had world-leading times of 12.40 and 12.39 in women’s 100m hurdles at Des Moines and Kingston recently. At Doha, she showed her class to set a DL record with her personal best effort of 12.35s. Off the blocks in a jiffy, she trailed behind Australia’s Olympic champion Sally Pearson until the last four hurdles before flying away for the top finish. Pearson faltered on last two hurdles to finish fourth. Stowers’ fellow US hurdler Sharika Nelson finished second.
Justin Gatlin won men’s 100m with 9.74s, which is world’s fastest time for almost three years. Gatlin had a slow start but after 20 meters, he flew away to win from compatriot Michael Rodgers, who clocked 9.96. Earlier in women’s long jump, USA’s Tianna Bartoletta leapt to a world-lead mark of 6.99m. GBR’s Shara Proctor was second with 6.95. Triple 200m world champion, Allyson Felix won women’s 200m in style clocking 21.98 ahead of Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure, who finished second at 22.29. For Felix, it was her 12th win in Doha and 17th in a DL event.
In men’s 800m, Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman surprised everyone to win in 1:43.78 far ahead of favorites; Ethiopian Mohammed Aman and Kenyan Asbel Kiprop. Second and third places went to Kenyans; Ferguson Rotich Cheruiyot (1:44:53) and Alfred Kipketer (1:44:59). In men’s javelin, Finland’s 2007 world champion Tero Pitkamaki won with 88.62m last-round throw while another Finn Antti Ruuskanen was second with 88.62m.
In 300m, Britain’s celebrity star Mo Farah had to be content with second-place behind Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, who clocked 7:38.08 to Farah’s 7:38.08. Two world-leads came from USA’s Bershawn Jackson in men’s 400m hurdles (48.09) and Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum in women’s 1500m (4:00.96). Another surprise result came in women’s 3000m steeplechase, where Virginia Nyamburu won in 9:21:51 ahead of Ethiopian Hiwot Ayalew (9:21:51).
Greek Konstantinos Filippidis won men’s pole vault; David Storl of Germany took men’s shot put; USA’s Francena McCorory won women’s 400m; Lithuania’s Airline Palsyte won women’s high jump and Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic was a runaway winner in women’s discus. But the best results came in men’s triple jump, where two athletes crossed the 18m mark. Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo and American Christian Taylor left the rest of the field far behind with their efforts. Pablo first broke the Cuban record of 17.94m with Taylor responding at 17.46m. Three trials later, Pablo touched 18.06m to go right behind GBR’s world record holder Jonathan Edwards and his day was made. Taylor was not demoralized and though his next trials weren’t good, he finally came up with 18.04m to make the Doha DL meeting the only competition in history, where 18m was surpassed by two triple-jumpers.
What Pablo and Taylor did at Doha was enacted at Shanghai by Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko in men’s high jump. It wasn’t just the out-jumping 2.40m-plus but Barhsim took the world lead from Bondarenko to set the tone of their rivalry through the rest of the season. Bondarenko made first attempt at 2.40m but his best was 2.38m. That saw him trailing Barshim who sailed 2.38 in first attempt. The Qatari tried 2.41m once but he missed. Finally Barshim ended as winner at 2.38m.
Some rivalry was seen in men’s 400m, where Grenada’s Kirani James and USA’s LaShawn Merritt were pitted against each other. But it fizzled out soon as James took the top spot at 44.66 while Meritt finished third with Tony McQuay taking second place at 45.54. The prestigious 100m women’s race was won by newly married Nigerian Blessing Okagbare, who beat last year’s world leader Tori Bowie by more than a meter in 10.98s.
In a closely contested men’s long jump, Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov leapt 8.27m to win ahead of USA’s Jeff Henderson who jumped 8.26 and China’s Jianan Wang was third at 8.25. In men’s discus, Poland’s Piotr Malachowski hurled the disk 64.65m to win while compatriot Robert Urbanek was second at 64.47m. India’s Vikas Gowda was third at 63.90m. Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen won women’s triple jump at 14.85m with Ukrainian Olga Saladukha finishing second at 14.62m. China’s Lu Huihui won women’s javelin with the meeting record of 64.08m while South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen was second at 63.60m. Kenyan Eunice Sum won women’s 800m in 2:00.28 and Morocco’s Malika Akkaoui was second in 2:00:73. In Shanghai, the biggest surprised was caused by Ethiopia’s 23-year old Almaz Ayana, who won women’s 5000m in 14:14:32. Kenyan Viola Jelagat Kibiwot with 14:40:32 was way behind at second. In other results, Greek Nikoleta Kiriakopolou took women’s pole vault at 4.73m from compatriot Eaterini Stefanidi; China’s Gong Lijiao took women’s shot put by throwing 20.23m, while Germany’s Christina Schwanitz was second at 19.94m; Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer won women’s 400m hurdles in 54.71; USA’s David Oliver won men’s 110m hurdles at 13.17s; Silas Kiplagat took world lead in men’s 1500m in 3:35:29; Jairus Birech had world lead men’s 3000m steeplechase in 5:38:22 and in men’s 200m, Panama’s Alonso Edward won in 20.33s ahead of Jamaican Julian Forte.