Reigning World Champion in the women’s 200m Dafne Schippers may have suffered a third consecutive defeat in the hands of Olympic double sprint Champion, Elaine Thompson at Thursday’s Zurich Diamond League.
Nevertheless she amassed enough points to secure the Diamond Race Trophy with her 2nd place finish behind the Jamaican who stormed to a Diamond League Record (DLR) of 21.85s, securing the win with just a hundredth of a second.
The race was expected to be a close one and it was. Schippers ran an aggressive curve to take the lead, but just as she did in Rio, Thompson did not relent in her pursuit, slightly overtaking the Dutch athlete at the finishing line. Allyson Felix was 3rd in a Season’s Best (SB) of 22.02s.
Meanwhile the ‘Sub-10s King’ Asafa Powell had it easy in the men’s 100m despite not starting well, taking the win with his 98th sub-10s run, clocking 9.94s while South Africa’s Akani Simbine and Iviorian Ben Youssef Meite both ran 9.99s. Veteran sprinter Kim Collins finished 4th in 10.10s.
Meite topped the standings coming to the Zurich Diamond League, but Powell’s win saw him move from 4th to 1st position.
Rio 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist in the 400m, LaShawn Merritt held off BralonTaplin (44.70s) and Nery Brenes (45.18s) to secure his third Diamond Race Trophy in a time of 44.64s. Botswana’s Isaac Makwala returned a time of 45.68s to place 6th.
Prior to the Zurich Diamond League, there was no doubt as to who the winner of the Diamond Race in the women’s 800m would be. Caster Semenya had maintained an impeccable record this season and consolidated on her unbeaten run with another victory, even though Francine Niyonsaba kept the Olympic Champion on her toes.
Just like it played out at the Olympic Games, the race ended in a 1-2-3 for Africa as Semenya clocked 1:56.44, while World Indoor Champion Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Wambui posted 1:56.76 and 1:57.04 respectively.
USA’s Shannon Rowbury emerged the surprise winner in the women’s 1500m contest, as the law of diminishing returns set in for Olympic Champion, Faith Kipyegon. The Kenyan had been undefeated this season but succumbed to her first loss at the Paris Diamond League where Great Britain’s Laura Muir raced to a World Lead (WL), Meeting Record (MR) and National Record (NR).
It looked as though the Brit had the win once again in Zurich but Rowbury fought hard, overtaking Muir (3:57.85) before the finishing line to set a Season’s Best (SB) of 3:57.78. Sifan Hassan placed 3rd with 3:58.43, as Kipyegon finished a distant 7th in 4:01.86. Nevertheless it was Muir who won the Diamond Race Trophy, and the Kenyan would be full of regrets at losing the one race she really needed to win.
The men’s 5000m was won by Hagos Gebrhiwet (13:14.82) who came from behind to outrun USA’s Evan Jager in the final lap. The Ethiopian clinched the trophy as Paul Chelimo (13:16.51) and Jager (13:16.86) placed 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Kendra Harrison secured her spot at the London 2017 World Championships after racing to her sixth consecutive victory in the Diamond League this season. At some point it looked like Jasmin Stowers was having the edge but Harrison regrouped to win in 12.63s. Cindy Ofili (12.70s) and Dawn Harper-Nelson (12.73s) followed.
Kerron Clement (48.72s) fought hard for his win in the men’s 400m Hurdles, coming from behind to upstage Javier Culson (48.79s) and South Africa’s LJ Van Zyl (48.80s).
WR holder in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase Ruth Jebet was expected to make mincemeat of the Zurich MR which she did, racing to a new time of 9:07.00 to finish ahead of fierce rival Hyvin Kiyeng (9:10.15) once again, as Emma Coburn placed 3rd in 9:17.42.