It’s not often that Usain Bolt is upstaged, not least by a fellow Jamaican. But at the final IAAF Diamond League meeting of 2013, the Belgacom Van Damme Memorial in Brussels, it was Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who stole the show.
The 26-year-old has lived in the shadow of Bolt for the best part of six years, but in terms of achievements she is perhaps the only sprinter in the world who can come close to the accolades of her compatriot.
After all, she too is a back-to-back Olympic 100m champion. She also won three gold medals at the recent IAAF World Championships in Moscow. And in Brussels she achieved something that even the great Bolt has not yet managed to do – winning the Diamond Race in both the 100m and 200m in the same season.
With her 200m win in Zurich last week, Fraser-Pryce took the Diamond Trophy in that event. Her overall victory was already guaranteed in the 100m, but that didn’t stop her from going all-out in the Belgian capital.
Her winning time of 10.72 – into a -0.3m/s headwind, no less – was the third-fastest clocking of her career and broke the 16-year-old meeting record. Finishing a massive quarter of a second behind, USA’s Alexandria Anderson clocked 10.97 in second place, just 0.02 ahead of Jamaica’s Carrie Russell.
Fraser-Pryce was one of three Jamaican athletes to win sprint races in Brussels, with Bolt, almost inevitably, being one of the others.
The men’s 100m was not a Diamond League discipline in Brussels, but it was naturally one of the biggest draws of the meeting. Winner of the 100m here for the past two years, Bolt made it a third win in a row.
He stopped the clock in 9.80, just 0.04 shy of his own meeting record from two years ago, but 0.06 faster than his winning time from last year.
Former US champion Michael Rodgers finished second in 9.90 with Jamaica’s World bronze medallist Nesta Carter in third with 9.94.
World silver medallist Warren Weir was the third sprint winner from Jamaica. Competing over his specialist distance of 200m, he came off the bend level with compatriot Nickel Ashmeade before edging ahead down the home-straight, taking the win in 19.87 to succeed Ashmeade as the Diamond Race title-holder.
Ashmeade and USA’s Walter Dix both ran season’s bests to take second and third, clocking 19.93 and 20.12 respectively.
Aman runs 800m world lead
World champion Mohammed Aman came to Brussels with a lead in the Diamond Race that could not be beaten. Running free from any pressure, the Ethiopian teenager simply wanted to focus on running a fast time. And that’s exactly what he did.
Paced by former European champion Bram Som through 400m, Aman was tucked behind Djibouti’s World bronze medallist Ayanleh Souleiman and clocked 49.3 at half way. Souleiman held on to his lead through 600m as he recorded a 1:15.27 split – one of the fastest ever recorded in an 800m race.
Aman then kicked for home as Souleiman began to fade. He sprinted down the home straight to cross the line in 1:42.37, improving his own national record by 0.16 and bettering the previous 2013 world lead by almost a full second.
USA’s World silver medallist Nick Symmonds replicated his finish from Moscow, clocking a season’s best of 1:43.03 to finish ahead of Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich, who set a personal best of 1:43.22 in third.
Chemos and Lavillenie win fourth Diamond Trophies with meeting records
By winning the 3000m Steeplechase in Brussels, World champion Milcah Chemos became the first athlete in history to win four Diamond Race titles in a row in the same event. Moments later, pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie replicated her achievement.
Chemos was under pressure in her event as four athletes were in contention for the Diamond Race victory.
World silver medallist Lydia Chepkurui had requested a fast pace, but that plan soon evaporated as the field was paced through the first kilometre in 3:03.90, and then slowed during the middle section of the race.
As the bell sounded for the last lap, Chemos still had Ethiopian duo Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew for company. Coming off the final water jump, it looked as though Assefa was poised to attack, but Chemos kicked harder and held on for the win, setting a meeting record of 9:15.06.
Assefa also dipped inside the previous mark with her 9:15.26 in second place, while Ayalew took third in 9:15.85.
Earlier in the week, Lavillenie had spoken of his disappointment at the World Championships, where the configuration of the Pole Vault runway played a part in his failure to win the gold medal. But tonight the Frenchman had no complaints as he dominated the competition to break a meeting record that had stood since 1994.
He had first-time clearances at all heights from 5.50m through to 5.86m, which made him the only vaulter left in the competition.
Lavillenie then moved the bar straight up to 5.96m and got over it on his second attempt before ending his series with three unsuccessful attempts at 6.04m.
Greek record holder Konstantinos Filippidis had an outside chance of winning the Diamond Race, but ultimately had to settle for second place in the overall standings after clearing 5.74m to finish as runner-up on the night.
Alamirew, Culson and Shkolina win Diamond Race duels
There were just two athletes left in the hunt for the Diamond Trophy in each of the men’s 5000m, 400m Hurdles and women’s High Jump.
The target pace for the men’s 5000m was 12:50, but for the Ethiopian pair Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yenew Alamirew, the focus was not on times but who would cross the line first to take the Diamond Race victory.
The pace dropped in each of the first three kilometres but then began to pick up slightly towards the end. By then it was clear that the target time was out of the question, but Alamirew and Gebrhiwet were still near the front.
Alamirew proved to have the best kick and he forged ahead to take the win in 12:58.75 with USA’s former World champion Bernard Lagat coming through strongly on the last lap to take a surprise second place in a season’s best of 12:58.99. Gebrhiwet took third place in 12:59.33 as he surrendered the Diamond Race title to his team-mate.
For much of the 400m Hurdles, it looked as though Javier Culson was on course to win. The Puerto Rican was passed on the final hurdle by World champion Jehue Gordon as the Trinidadian went on to win in 48.32.
Cuba’s Omar Cisneros finished strongly to take second in 48.59 with Culson finishing third in 48.60, doing just enough to secure the Diamond Trophy. USA’s Michael Tinsley – the only other athlete in contention for the Diamond Race – clocked the same time as Culson in fourth place but was out of the points.
World champion Svetlana Shkolina continued her unbeaten streak this season to win the High Jump, bagging the Diamond Trophy in the process. Fellow Russian Anna Chicherova was the only athlete who could potentially stop Shkolina and for a brief moment it looked as though the Olympic champion would succeed as she was the first to clear 1.98m, despite failures at two earlier heights.
However, Shkolina matched her at that height and went on to clear 2.00m on her first attempt, a height at which Chicherova had one failure before using her two remaining jumps unsuccessfully at 2.02m.
Perkovic, Whiting and Harper-Nelson confirm Diamond Race victories
Earlier this week in her home town of Zagreb, Sandra Perkovic suffered her first and only loss of 2013. But in Brussels the Olympic and World champion from Croatia made her intentions clear from the outset, sending her discus out to 67.04m in the opening round.
USA’s Gia Lewis-Smallwood, the woman who recently defeated Perkovic in Zagreb, was once again the her strongest challenger. The 34-year-old responded with 64.82m in the second round, but that remained her best of the night and she finished second.
Perkovic also didn’t improve, but had a consistent series with four valid throws that landed around the 65-metre mark.
Her victory in the Diamond Race was already assured, but winning in Brussels meant Perkovic joined 400m hurdler Zuzana Hejnova as the only athletes to win all seven Diamond League competitions this season.
World silver medallist Ryan Whiting had an unassailable lead in the Diamond Race in his event, but the ultra-consistent shot putter still wanted to put in a strong performance in his final competition of 2013.
After opening with a foul, followed by a safe 19.78m in round two, Whiting launched the Shot out to 21.45m. In a competition where no other athlete broke 21 metres, it was more than enough to win. Bulgaria’s former World junior champion Georgi Ivanov finished second with 20.95m.
USA’s 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson finished outside the medals in fourth place at the recent World Championships, but arrived in Brussels as the sure-fire winner of the 100m Hurdles Diamond Race.
The 2012 Olympic silver medallist held off Australia’s Olympic champion Sally Pearson to win with a season’s best of 12.48 from Pearson’s 12.63.
Sweden’s World 1500m champion Abeba Aregawi was in a similar untouchable position in the Diamond Race standings in her event, but rounded off her season by maintaining her unbeaten streak in her specialist discipline.
She crossed the line in 4:05.41, comfortably ahead of Kenya’s Mercy Cherono’s 4:05.82 while another Kenyan, World bronze medallist Hellen Obiri, was third in 4:06.92.
World champion Caterine Ibarguen was another athlete who simply had to turn up in Brussels to confirm that she would receive her Diamond Trophy, but the Colombian did more than just that.
She ended her season on a high with a victory, jumping 14.49m in the fourth round to finish ahead of Jamaica’s Kimberly Williams, who leapt 14.34m in the same round.
Despite Brussels losses, Taylor, Montsho and Vesely win Diamond Trophies
World champion Vitezslav Vesely was beaten by World silver medallist Tero Pitkamaki in the Javelin, 87.32m to 86.67m, but the Czech thrower’s second place was still enough to guarantee him the Diamond Race victory over his Finnish rival.
USA’s Olympic champion Christian Taylor already had victory sewn up in the Triple Jump Diamond Race, so he wasn’t too worried that he only finished second with 16.89m. In a relatively modest competition, Teddy Tamgho took the lead with 17.27m in the fifth round before improving by three centimetres with his final jump.
Both World champion Christine Ohuruogu and Diamond Race leader Amantle Montsho were beaten in the 400m, but the latter had still done enough to secure her overall title.
USA’s Natasha Hastings secured a surprise win in 50.36 with Montsho second in 50.41 and Russia’s Antonina Krivoshapka finishing strongly to take third in 50.51.
In the men’s equivalent, which was not a Diamond League event on this occasion, home favourites Jonathan and Kevin Borlee – and their younger brother Dylan – were upstaged by Britain’s Martyn Rooney. Both he and Jonathan Borlee clocked 45.05 with the former awarded the win.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF