On a night of pulsating action at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco’s Stade Louis II, once again the men’s high jump took centre stage on Friday (18).
Although there was no world lead, despite the presence of the six men who have jumped 2.40m or higher this year, there was another commanding performance from world champion Bohdan Bondarenko.
The Ukrainian was the only man over 2.40m on this occasion, clearing it at his first attempt, and once his only remaining challenger, Qatar’s world indoor champion Mutaz Barshim, had departed the competition, having skipped from two failures at 2.40m to take his final unsuccessful attempt at 2.43m, Bondarenko took three cracks at that height himself.
His first effort was the closest – and it surely cannot be long before he betters the 2.42m 2014 best he shares with Barshim, and the European record he shares with two other jumpers at that height.
“These were great conditions, and I wanted to jump higher,” said Bondarenko
“My last jump at 2.43m was wow; so, so close,” added Barshim, reflecting on the difference between victory and second place. “The world record will come soon.”
Genzebe Dibaba overcame a powerful challenge from her Ethiopian compatriot Almaz Ayana to record a world-leading time of 14:28.88 in the first Diamond League women’s 5000m to be held in Monaco.
Ayana clocked 14:29.19 after she and Dibaba had broken clear of their last challenger, Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot – third in 14:33.73 – on the final lap.
US athletes provided three out of the seven 2014 world-leading performances, thanks to sprinters Justin Gatlin in the men’s 200m, Tori Bowie in the women’s 100m, and Ajee Wilson in the women’s 800m.
Gatlin, who says he has been working hard on retaining power while losing weight, appeared to have got the balance right as he left a strong 200m field behind him to cross the line in 19.68, a meeting record and personal best.
Diamond Race leader Nickel Ashmeade of Jamaica was closest to him with 19.99, with local star Christophe Lemaitre third in a season’s best of 20.08.
“It is the first sub-20 200 of my career,” said Gatlin. “I’m ready to face the best Jamaicans in both sprints. This year I want to win the Diamond Race in the 100m and stay unbeaten."
Bowie in brilliant form
Bowie had a similar effect on another top-class field in the women’s short sprint, finishing in 10.80 ahead of Jamaica’s resurgent Veronica Campbell-Brown, who clocked 10.96.
The US sprinter consolidated her lead at the top of the Diamond Race 100m standing.
Double world silver medallist Murielle Ahoure was third in 10.97, with Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare fourth in the same time.
Jamaica’s world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2013 World Athlete of the Year, is still recovering full fitness following a foot injury but improved her season’s best to 11.01 in sixth place.
“Tonight was the best ever start I've had in my life,” said Bowie. “After that, the race was just flowing. Last year I came to Monaco to do the long jump. I love this place.”
Wilson inflicted the first defeat for more than a year on Kenya’s world champion Eunice Sum as she won in 1:57.67, with the Kenyan second in 1:57.92. Winnie Nanyondo set a Ugandan record of 1:58.63 in third place.
“It feels great to beat the world champion,” said Wilson. “I was told this was a fast track and so it proved tonight.”
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF