It was a parade of World Leads (WL) and Meeting Records (MR) at the IAAF Diamond League opener, which took centrestage at the Hamad Bin Suhaim Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Friday, May 4th, showing the level of preparedness of the world’s best athletes ahead of the rest of the season.
Reigning World and Olympic Champion in the women’s Discus throw Sandra Perkovic was the first athlete to smash an MR on the day as she set a WL and Diamond League Record (DLR) of 71.38m on her third attempt of the night, also erasing her former MR of 68.23m set in 2013.
Perkovic’s winning mark was just 3cm shy of her Personal Best (PB) and NR set last year. The Cuban duo of Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero settled for 2nd and 3rd respectively with 66.82m and 63.80m.
Meanwhile it was Bahamian youngster Steven Gardiner that stole the show in the men’s 400m which was the first track event of the evening. The 22-year old World Championships Silver medallist opened his Diamond League campaign in a fantastic manner as he stunned Gold Coast 2018 Champion Isaac Makwala to win the event in a PB, WL, MR and National Record (NR) of 43.87s, erasing his former PB of 43.89s.
Homeboy Abdalleleh Haroun clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 44.50s in 2nd, while Makwala settled for 3rd with a time of 44.92s.
Newly crowned 800m and 1500m Commonwealth Games Champion Caster Semenya left it till late before shrugging off her rivals to power to victory in the women’s 1500m, winning with a PB, NR and WL of 3:59.92. Kenya’s Nelly Jepkosgei and Habitam Alemu followed in 4:00.99 (PB) and 4:01.41 (SB) respectively.
The women’s 100m race could be likened to an Olympic or World Championships final. Having a star-studded line up that had Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers, Marie Josee Ta Lou, Blessing Okagbare-Ighotegunor and Murielle Ahoure in action, the race lived up to expectations.
Even though she was the smallest on the field, that did not stop Ta Lou from upstaging her rivals to win the women’s 100m in a PB and WL of 10.85s as Okagbare-Ighoteguonor followed in an SB of 10.90s. Thompson was 3rd in 10.93s and Ahoure 4th in 10.96s. It was an NR for South Africa’s Carina Horn who clocked the first sub-10s of her career (10.98s).
Training in South Africa for the past few months seemed to have certainly paid off for Qatari athlete Abderrahman Samba who proved too strong for his rivals and extended his WL to 47.57s, also a PB, NR and DLR to win the men’s 400m Hurdles. Bershawn Jackson and Kyron McMaster settled for 2nd and 3rd respectively in 49.08s and 49.46s.
Pedro Pablo Pichardo upstaged World and Olympic Champion Christian Taylor to win the men’s Triple Jump with a WL and SB of 17.95m. Taylor followed with an SB of 17.81m while Alexis Copello settled for 3rd with 17.21m.
Mutaz Barshim claimed his second consecutive Diamond League victory on home soil as he was in a class of his own on Friday, having easily cleared 2.20m, 2.24m, 2.27m and 2.30m to top the standings of the men’s High Jump.
He cleared 2.33m at his second attempt, and was the only one to jump a WL of 2.36m, which earned him the win. He went on to make a clearance of 2.40m, but failed all three attempts at 2.42m.
World Indoor Champion in the women’s Pole vault, Sandi Morris continued her impressive showing this season as she set an MR of 4.84m to win the event, with Holly Bradshaw (4.64m) and Katie Nageotte following. Reigning Olympic and World Champion Katerina Stefanidi struggled all through the competition and eventually finished 4th (4.64m).
World Record (WR) holder Kendra Harrison had to work for her victory but she levelled-up, and then overtook World Leader Brianna McNeal to dominate the 100m Hurdles in an SB of 12.53s. McNeal and Sharika Nelvis placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in 12.58s and 12.75s.
It was a 1-2-3 for Germany in the men’s Javelin throw, and it was Thomas Rohler’s day at the Doha Diamond League where he set an SB of 91.78m to win the event. Johannes Vetter followed with a best throw of 91.56m as Andreas Hofmann finished 3rd with 90.08m.
It may not have been the kind of time he wanted, but Emmanuel Korir pressed hard in the final stages to win the men’s 800m ahead of Elijah Managoi in an SB of 1.45.21, and was certainly delighted with his victory. The reigning World and Commonwealth Games GOLD medallist in the 1500m returned a time of 1:45.60 in 2nd, with teammate Nicholas Kipkoech following in an SB of 1:46.51.
It was also a PB and MR for 2017 Diamond Trophy winner Noah Lyles who raced to an impressive time of 19.83s to finish ahead of Commonwealth Games Champion Jereem Richards (19.99s) in the men’s 200m. London 2017 GOLD medallist Ramil Guliyev settled for 3rd (20.11s).
It was a disappointing outing for Rio 2016 Silver medallist Andre De Grasse who faded to 6th position with a time of 20.46s, although it was an SB for the Canadian.