For the first time ever, Diamond League moved to Africa with the third meeting of 2016 season at the Moroccan capital of Rabat on May 22. The event was a huge success with three world-leads results out of four DL distance races. The highlight was provided by Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana, who crushed everyone in women’s 5000m and almost broke the world record. Another world-lead came in men’s 3000m steeplechase from Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto, who also notched up his second DL victory after Doha. The third world-lead came when South Africa’s Caster Semenya clocked the fastest time in the world since 2012 in women’s 800. In other notable action at Rabat, Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse won in 800m, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson ran fastest in women’s 100m sprint, USA’s LaShawn Merritt won men’s 400m and Colombian triple-jump queen Caterine Ibarguen extended her winning streak to 33 competitions.
History was made last Sunday, when Rabat and Africa successfully hosted their first ever Diamond League Meeting. The day’s last event brought the climax, when Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana threatened Tirunesh Dibaba’s 2008 world record of 14:11.15 in 5000m and clocked 14:16.31. Though it was a world-lead time, it wasn’t Ayana’s Personal Best, since she had done the distance in 14:14.32 a year ago at Shanghai. But Ayana’s feat at Rabat was still highly creditable because she ran in the 700F sun with 68% humidity and 13 mph wind speed. The Ethiopian was simply brilliant as she broke away from the pack and won with a huge margin. Her compatriot and 2015 world championships silver medalist Sembere Teferi finished third in 14:35.09 while at second place was Kenya’s Viola Kibiwott, who recorded her PB time but clocked far slower than Ayana at 14:29.50.
In women’s 800m, South African Caster Semenya collected 10 Diamond Race points in clocking the world-lead time of 1:56.64 ahead of Burundi’s 2016 world indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba in 1:57.74. Frenchwoman Renelle Lamote was third in 1:58.84 just clear of Kenya’s 2013 world champion Eunice Sum. Men’s 800m was won by Frenchman Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, whose last 150 meters were done at breakneck speed. Bosse clocked 1:44.51 ahead of Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi in 1:44.91 while Bosnia’s Amel Tuka finished third in 1:45.41. In men’s 400m, USA’s LaShawn Merritt beat the field with a meet record of 44.66s, Belgium’s Kevin Borlee was second in 45.26 and Botswana’s Isaac Makwala third in 45.36.
Two Jamaican women finished first in their individual events. Janieve Russell ran a crisp 400m hurdles to win in a PB of 54.16, while Elaine Thompson justified the tag of the favorite in 100m sprint to win with a meeting record of 11.02s. Behind Russel in hurdles were USA’s Cassandra Tate (54.69) and South African Wenda Nel (54.88). In 100m, Thompson was followed by Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare in 11.11 and another Jamaican Kerron Stewart in 11.19. In men’s 200m sprint, Panama’s Alonso Edward was a cut above the rest in clocking 20.07 ahead of Ivory Coast’s Wilfried Koffi (20.35) and Spain’s Bruno Hortelano-Roig (20.36). Men’s 100m hurdles was won by USA’s David Oliver in 13.12s. Spain’s Orlando Ortega finished second in 13.13 while Antonio Alkana of South Africa clocked 13.28 to finish third. Kenyans dominated men’s 3000m steeplechase, where Conseslus Kipruto repeated his Doha DL performance to finish first in a world-lead time of 8:02.77. Compatriot Jairus Birech finished second in 8:03.90 while another Kenyan Paul Koech was third in 8:12.33.
The top field event at Rabat was men’s long jump, won by South African Ruswahl Samaai, who leapt 8.38m for his PB. Australia’s Beijing 2015 silver medalist Fabrice Lapierre was second in 8.36m while American Marquise Goodwin finished third in 8.11m. In another notable result at Rabat, Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi won women’s pole vault with a clearance of 4.75m, Switzerland’s Nicole Buchler finished second at 4.70m while Cuba’s Yarisley Silva was third in 4.50m. Poland’s Piotr Malachowski followed his Doha victory in men’s discus with a new DL meet record of 67.45m. His compatriot Robert Urbanek finished second with 65.04 while Zoltan Kovago of Hungary was third in 64.42m.
New Zealand’s 4-time shot put world champion Valerie Adams hurled the metal sphere six times and all her throws were valid and better than anybody else in the field. She won with her best throw of 19.68m. Hungary’s Anita Marton was second albeit throwing more than a meter behind at 18.51m. Brittany Smith of USA was third with 17.84m. In women’s javelin, Latvia’s Madara Palameika’s throw of 64.76m won her the first position with Estonia’s Liina Laasma at second place with 63.65m. Australia’s Kathryn Mitchell was third with 60.68m. In men’s high jump, Ukrainian Bogdan Bondarenko jumped 2.31m to take the top spot. Doha winner Erik Kynard of USA was second in 2.28 and Greek Konstadinos Baniotis finished third in 2.25m. Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen won the triple-jump at Rabat to extend her winning streak to 33 competitions. The two-time world champion recorded 14.51m as her best effort to finish first, Greece’s Paraskevi Papachrist, who second with 14.28 and Patricia Mamona of Portugal third in 14.13.