Micheal Norman and Malaika Mihambo produced some of the biggest highlights of the day at the Rome Diamond League (DL) when they both upstaged their more accomplished rivals to claim victory in their respective events.
Billed as one of the races of the meet, Norman went into his second DL race against Noah Lyles as the underdog after losing out last year in Lausanne in 19.69 to 19.88 to his US compatriot.
Heading into the race, both athletes went hammer and tongs down the home straight, and a neck-and-neck finish on the line in the men’s 200m. It was Norman who took it in the end, coming in two hundredths of a second ahead of Lyles with 19.70.
It’s a Meeting Record (MR), a World Lead (WL) and a Personal Best (PB) for Norman. Lyles has held the 200m Diamond Trophy for the last two years, but on the basis of tonight, he may have a fight on his hands to retain it for a third year this season. Alex Quinoz was 3rd in a Season’s Best (SB) of 20.17.
Another race which promised and delivered was the women’s 100m. Asher-Smith, the favorite, started the race strongly, but Elaine Thompson surged seemingly out of nowhere to pick her off in the second 50m and cross the line in a WL of 10.89. Asher-Smith herself clocked 10.94, while Ta Lou came in behind Aleia Hobbs in fourth with an SB of 11.14.
Hobbs and Thompson now top the DL standings with 14 points apiece, while Vitoria Cristina Rosa, Jenna Prandini and Asher-Smith make up the rest of the top five.
In the women’s 400m, Salwa Eid Naser showed once again that she is the woman to beat. After winning in Shanghai, added another convincingly converted eight points to her season tally, soaring ahead of the likes of Shericka Jackson and Stephenie Ann McPherson to win with an SB of 50.26.
Charging down into the home straight in Rome, Nijel Amos, who was victorious in Doha looked on course to take another victory in the 800m.
But with his arms flailing and teeth gritted in his usual, unique fashion, Amos seemed to run out of steam as he approached the line, and USA’s Donovan Brazier edged closer, eventually catching him for a photo finish.
After a long judge check, the win was handed to Brazier, who came in two hundredths of a second ahead of Amos with a WL of 1:43.63.
Dalilah Muhammad was the woman to beat in the women’s 400m Hurdles. The American cruised to victory in Rome with a 53.67 clocking, a time just a fraction short of her own WL of 53.61s.
In the only long distance DL scoring event of the night, Selemon Barega looked like he had eight points in the bag as he came into the final bend, but fellow Ethiopian Telahun Haile Bekele was having none of it in what was a fantastic 5000m finish.
Bekele just nosed ahead of Barega in the final few strides to take the win in a WL of 12:52.98.
European Long Jump Champion, Mihambo was in inspired form as she upset the duo of Brittney Reese and Caterine Ibargüen to claim victory in the women’s Long Jump. The jumper smashed her PB, setting a new mark of 7.07m.
In the men’s Shot Put, Polish putter, Konrad Bukowiecki not only smashed his own PB and MR, he also fought off a late revival from Darrell Hill to claim the eight points in the event.
The women’s Javelin throw, which kicked off proceedings in Rome saw Chinese athelte Huihui Lyu take her second win in two meetings on the road to the finals thus far, as her fifth round effort of 66.47m was enough to fight off a challenge from Lina Muze and Eda Tugusz.
Elsewhere, Swede, Angelica Bengtsson sprung an enormous surprise in the women’s pole vault. While everyone else was struggling at the 4.76m mark, she cleared it at the third attempt, setting a new PB and a new Swedish record in the process.