Caster Semenya is unstoppable. The South African middle-distance runner blew away the women’s 800m field with her trailblazing run in Monaco Diamond League on July 15. In clocking 1:55.33, Semenya set a DL record, a new South African record and logged the best 800m time since 2008. Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba was second with her personal best. Monaco DL also threw up other notable performances. In men’s 1500m, Kenya’s Ronald Kwemoi emerged as the surprise winner in a field that included three Olympic champions; compatriot Asbel Kiprop, Algerian Taoufik Makloufi and Great Britain’s Mo Farah. In men’s 400m, world champion South African Wayde Van Niekerk celebrated his 24th birthday by finishing first ahead of Trinidad & Tobago’s Machel Cedenio with a time of 44.12. Fast-improving Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers ran women’s 100m into a headwind and still clocked 10.94 for a dominant victory over double Olympic winner Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and men’s high jump saw a 2.39m winning leap from Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi.
The major talking point at Monaco was provided by South African’s Caster Semenya in women’s 800m in a strong field that included world indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba, world indoor bronze medalist Margaret Wambui and 2013 world champion Eunice Sum. In 2009, Semenya had won the Berlin World Championship as a 19-year old after clocking 1:55.45. On Friday, she bettered that record and left everyone way behind. The event also saw the personal best for second-placed Burundian Francine Niyonsaba, who clocked 1:56.24. Kenya’s Eunice Sum was third in 1:57.47. After the race, Semenya’s
Men’s 1500m at Monaco was unexpectedly won by Kenya’s Ronald Kwemoi in 3:30.49. The field also included Kwemoi’s compatriot, DL race leader and Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop and two other Olympic champions; Algeria’s Taoufik Makloufi, and Great Britain’s Mo Farah. Another Kenyan Elijah Motonei Manangoi finished second in 3:31.19 while Algeria’s Taoufik Makloufi was third in 3:31.35. Kwemoi led from start, did the first 400m in 53 seconds and 800 in 1:49. Until then, Kiprop was right behind and Olympic bronze medalist Abdelaati Iguider at third. With 400m left, 10 athletes battled for the top finish but in final stages, Kwemoi broke away to finish as the standout winner. 2015 Monaco DL 1500m winner Mo Farah was fourth, 4 seconds slower than his last years’ time of 3:28.93.
South African world champion Wayde Van Niekerk won in 400m on his 24th birthday. Van Niekerk surged ahead in the final 100 meters and clocked 44.12 at the finish line. Trinidad & Tobago’s Machel Cedenio finished second in 44.34 while Grenada’s Bralon Taplin was third in 44.38. With 20 points in the DL race, Van Niekerk now shares the lead with USA’s LaShawn Merritt. Once a heptathlete but now a serious 100 and 200m runner, Dafne Schippers clocked 10.94 seconds to score a dominant 100m victory in a field, where no one else could breach the 11-second barrier. Two-time Olympics winner Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown clocked 11.12 to finish second. The race was run with the wind blowing into the athletes but the long-legged Schippers set a scorching pace to finish on top.
In men’s high jump, Italian Gianmarco Tamberi provided some entertainment with a half-shaved face and baggy basketball shorts. He won the event in a strong field after his first-time clearances of 2.22m and 2.37 meters. At 2.39m, European Champion Tamberi also had Ukraine’s 2013 world champion Bogdan Bondarenko alongside. But Bondarenko failed in his three attempts while Tamberi also missed his first two. On the third as the Italian went over, his heel nicked the bar but it stayed put. Then they raised it further to 2.41. The night turned into shambles for the winner as he crashed through the bar on his second attempt and rolled out by the side clutching his knee. He had to be taken away on stretcher to the utter disappointment of his Italian supporters, who had Rio Gold in their minds for their favorite star.
In a 1-2-3 for Kenya, women’s 3000m was won by Hellen Obiri in 8:24.27 ahead of Mercy Cherono, who clocked 8:27.25. Another Kenyan Janet Kisa was third in 8:28.33. There was another Kenyan 1-2-3 in men’s 3000m steeplechase with Conseslus Kipruto, Paul Koech and Barnabas Kipyego finishing in 8:08.11, 8:08.32 and 8:09.13, respectively. Kipruto had recorded a much better 8:00.12 at Birmingham DL but even with a much slower time, he ended as the winner.
Colombian triple-jumper Caterine Ibarguen was back to her winning ways with 14.96m in her final attempt. Venezuela’s world indoor champion Yulimar Rojas was second with 14.64m and Jamaica’s Kimberly Williams third with 14.47m. Double Olympic champion New Zealand’s Valerie Adams won women’s shot put with a throw of 20.05. Germany’s Christina Schwanitz was second in 19.81 and USA’s Michelle Carter third with 19.58. Women’s javelin was won by Belarusian Tatsiana Khaladovich with a hurl of 65.62m. Australia’s Kathryn Mitchell finished second with 63.80m and Czech world record-holder and Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova was third with 63.34m. In men’s long jump, Jamaican Damar Forbes leapt 8.23m to win ahead of Australian Fabrice Lapierre’s 8.21m. China’s Gao Xinglong was third in 8.00m. Poland’s Piotr Malachowski faced no competition in men’s discus with an effort of 65.57m. Sweden’s Daniel Stahl was second with 62.87m and Colombian Mauricio Ortega third with 62.27m.