Photo Credit: AP

It was a perfect Diamond League farewell for Usain Bolt’s fans in Monaco as the multiple World Record (WR) holder overcame a bad start to race to his first sub-10s run of the season in his first outing in the series this year, and final Diamond League meeting.

The eight-time Olympic Champion has been very selective in his swansong year as a professional athlete and has only raced a couple of times this season. The Herculis Meeting on Friday provided the Jamaican legend with an opportunity to dip inside 10s for the first time in 2017 as he held off the pair of Isiah Young and South Africa’s Akani Simbine to snatch the victory in a 9.95s.

The duo followed in 9.98s and 10.02s respectively. The 11-time World Champion will now set his sights on the forthcoming IAAF World Championships in London where he will call time on his Athletics career.

The men’s 400m provided one of the main highlights of the Monaco Diamond League, as WR holder Wayde Van Niekerk made his second appearance at the Diamond League, following his first outing in Lausanne.

Unlike Lausanne where the South African had it easy, this time around he had to face in-form Isaac Makwala who recently ran a World Lead (WL) and Meeting Record (MR) of 19.77s in the 200m, and also clocked an impressive 43.92s on the same day at the IAAF World Challenge in Madrid.

The Botswana sprinter followed hard after Van Niekerk and even overtook him at some point, inspiring the reigning World and Olympic Champion to dig deep to produce his winning effort of 43.73s, which was an MR. Makwala was 2nd in an SB of 43.84s, while teammate Baboloki Thebe finished 3rd in 44.26s.

Having finished a distant 7th in the 400m in Rabat less than a week ago, Caster Semenya bounced back in style in Monaco where she returned to her specialist event, the 800m. The Olympic Champion held sway during the race, shrugging the threat posed by Francine Niyonsaba and USA’s Ajee Wilson to storm to a National Record (NR), WL, MR and Diamond League Record (DLR) of 1:55.27.

So fast was the race that four other members of the lineup were inspired to PBs, with Niyonsaba clocking an NR of 1:55.47 in 2nd place, and Wilson doing same in 3rd with her time of 1:55.61. Sifan Hassan followed with a PB of 1:56.81.

The men’s 800m was not a Diamond League event. Nevertheless, fast-rising talent, Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir showed pure class by racing to a WL of 1:43.10 to finish ahead of Brandon McBride (1:44.41, SB), Antoine Gakeme (1:44.54) and Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (1:44.72, SB).

Marie Josee Ta Lou continued with her impressive 2017 run by securing her first Diamond League victory of the season where she blew away the rest of the field in the women’s 200m to take the win in 22.25s, while Kyra Jefferson (22.42s) and Dina Asher-Smith (22.89s) settled for 2nd and 3rd.

Reigning World Champion in the men’s 1500m Asbel Kiprop is yet to regain the form that saw him dominate the event for a few years. The Kenyan middle-distance runner is still a shadow of himself and helplessly watched as his competitors went past him one after the other, and ended up a distant 11th.

It was a duel between Timothy Cheruiyot and Elijah Manangoi, but a late surge by the latter saw him set a WL of 3:28.80, with the former running a PB of 3:29.10 in 2nd place. Ronald Kewmoi completed the Kenyan sweep by finishing 3rd in 3:32.34.

Hellen Obiri completely outclassed the women’s 3000m field by racing to a WL of 8:23.14, and ended up inspiring nine of her competitors to PBs in the event. Fellow Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech and Great Britain’s Laura Muir set PBs of 8:28.66 and 8:30.64 in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

It wasn’t a record-breaking day for WR holder Kendra Harrison in the 100m Hurdles. The US Champion secured a narrow victory in Monaco as her winning time was just a hundredth of a second better than Sharika Nelvis’ SB of 12.52s in 2nd place. World Champion Danielle Williams (12.58s) was 3rd.

Mariya Lasitskene has remained one of the most consistent athletes in the Diamond League series this season. The reigning World Champion is used to being the last woman standing, and today was no different.

The jumper set an MR of 2.05m, and went on to make three attempts at 2.08s, which she failed at. That notwithstanding, she heads to London as the favourite, and it remains to be seen if she can be stopped.

The women’s Triple Jump provided a thrilling contest between Olympic Champion Caterine Ibarguen and Silver medallist Yulimar Rojas who looks set to step into the Colombian’s shoes as the new queen of the Triple Jump.

The Venezuelan opened her campaign with a leap of 14.44m, and bettered it to 14.72m at her next attempt. Ibarguen was fouled on her first attempt and made a leap of 14.38m on her second, and 14.43m on the 3rd.

However, she sealed the deal with her last jump which landed at an SB of 14.86m, signaling to her younger rival that she was still the woman to beat. The World Indoor Champion tried to respond but fell 3cm short to place 2nd.

It was a meeting to forget for German Champion Johannes Vetter who was unable to replicate his recent feat which catapulted him to No.2 on the all-time list, having recorded a monstrous effort of 94.44m at the Spitzenleichtathletik meeting in Lucerne.

This time around, Vetter had to settle for an unimpressive mark of 85.14m which saw him finish in 3rd place as teammate Thomas Rohler bounced back to winning ways with his effort of 89.17m.

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the National Sports Festival and the African Athletics Championships, and has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

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