Doha, QatarThe opening Samsung Diamond League meeting of the season here in Doha prompted 11* athletes to achieve world-leading performances, with Allyson Felix moving closer to her own personal set of double figures as she recorded the ninth win of her career at this meeting.
A hot but blustery night ended with two crowd-pleasing performances. First, Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew burst dramatically past Kenya’s former World champion Eliud Kipchoge just 200 metres from the end of the 3000m race, winning in a world-leading, meeting record of 7:27.26 which sent his compatriots into a flag-waving frenzy at their gathering point on the bottom bend of the Qatar Sports Club stadium.
Hometown hero impresses
A few minutes later 19-year-old home high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim provoked sustained applause from home supporters as he cleared first 2.29m and then 2.31m with his third and final attempts, thus equalling the national record he had set in winning last year’s World junior title.
But Barshim had to settle for third place in the end as Kyriakos Ioannou of Cyprus, in his first competition in 11 months, rose to one more challenge to pass the leader on countback, Jesse Williams of the United States, by clearing 2.33m, only for Williams to respond immediately by matching his effort to regain first place. Three unsuccessful efforts from Ioannou later, Williams’ win was confirmed.
Dix dominates half-lap
There had been a rumble of home excitement earlier in the evening as Qatari runner Femi Ogunode set a national record in the 200m as he chased home the favourite, Walter Dix.
The American produced a world-leading time of 20.06 which also equalled the meeting record.
But the man in the home colours reached the line in 20.36, finishing well clear of the third-placed Jaysuma Ndure of Norway, who clocked 20.55.
Ndure’s fellow countryman Andreas Thorkildsen, the World and two-time Olympic champion, suffered a rare defeat in the Javelin as his best effort of 83.63m was only sufficient to place him fifth on a night when victory went to his young rival from the Czech Republic, Petr Frydrych.
The man who is coached by the triple Olympic champion Jan Zelezny won with a second round effort of 85.32m, with Robert Oosthuizen of South Africa taking second place with a season’s best of 84.38m in his final effort.
Finland’s former World champion, Tero Pitkamaki, was third with 83.91m.
Right to the line for Felix
Felix’s ninth Doha win came in the 400m, where she recorded a world-leading time of 50.33 to hold off the strong challenge of Amantle Montsho of Botswana, who recorded 50.41.
Despite the status of her time, the American triple World champion was not overly excited. “It is a decent time, nothing special,” she said. “It is a very long season so I just want to take things slowly.”
Felix now moves on to the World Challenge meeting in Daegu, and plans to run the 200m/400m double at Rome’s Samsung Diamond League meeting on 26 May.
Tamgho in command
Teddy Tamgho had hoped for further great things in Doha, where he set the first of his World indoor Triple Jump records at last year’s World Indoor Championships, recording 17.90m to take his first global title.
The 21-year-old Frenchman could not reach such heights – or rather, lengths – on the night, but he still produced a world-leading distance of 17.49m which was also a meeting record.
A further effort of 17.44m showed that the European indoor champion is in consistent form. The highly experienced Leevan Sands of the Bahamas took second place in 17.09m, with Cuba’s Alexis Copello third, recording 17.05m.
“Things went well,” said the winner. “I expected a bit more, but with training load in the last week I could not aim for 17.90. People recognised me and they encouraged me.”
But it was a relatively disappointing night for Tamgho’s French teammate, the European indoor and outdoor Pole Vault champion Renaud Lavillenie, who was below his best in recording 5.50m to take fourth place.
Victory went to Malte Mohr of Germany in a world-leading 5.81m, 11cm more than the second-placed Maksym Mazuryk of Ukraine could manage.
Wells’ momentum continues
Just as Lolo Jones had kind of predicted, her fellow American Kellie Wells profited from the background of an unbeaten indoor season over the hurdles, coming through with a late surge to take the opening Samsung Diamond League 100m Hurdles event in 12.58, a world-leading time which equalled her personal best.
In a race in which all but one competitor were Americans, Danielle Carruthers took second place in 12.64, with Jones – who estimated she was still only operating at 90 per cent efficiency following the sciatic nerve problem which terminated her indoor season, having to settle for third place with 12.67.
“I’m just trying to get back into the groove,” said Jones, who has two more races lined up in the space of the next week, and whose time was only 0.04sec slower than the one she produced to win the inaugural Samsung Diamond League 100m Hurdles here last year.
Birthday boy Kanter takes down Alekna with final throw
The men’s Discus saw a battle of Olympic proportion as the winner of the gold at the Beijing Games, Gerd Kanter of Estonia, overcame the man who was victorious at the previous two Games, Virgilijus Alekna, with the last throw of the competition.
Kanter took a first round lead of 65.56m, but, on a night when throwing events were restricted to four attempts, Alekna moved ahead with a third round effort of 65.92.
Could Kanter move into a gallop with his final effort? The roar he let out as he released the disc spoke of his intentions, and as it thudded down well beyond the 65 metres line it was clear he had succeeded. 67.49m. World leader. And all on his birthday too.
“I am happy in two ways for my victory,” a jubilant Kanter said.
Dylan Armstrong emulated Kanter with his efforts in the Shot Put, losing a first round lead and then earning a win with his last effort.
The Canadian took the lead with an effort of 20.95m, but Ryan Whiting of the United States, moved above him in the second round with a season’s best of 21.23m. It was heady stuff for Whiting, whose first full professional season this is, and it was too good to last as his compatriot Reese Hoffa moved past with 21.27.
But Armstrong came good at the last, sending the shot out to 21.38m. Christian Cantwell, the defending Diamond Race champion, had the opportunity to change things with the final throw of the competition, but could only manage 20.79m for fifth place. The American said afterwards that his training schedule had been put back following his shoulder operation in February.
van Zyl holds off Jackson
Bershawn Jackson, the current World and Olympic bronze medallist, had arrived hoping to get close to his winning 400m Hurdles time of 48.66 from last year.
The American succeeded, recording a season’s best of 48.44, but it was only enough to earn him third place behind two in-form South Africans – Cornel Fredericks, who finished one hundredth of a second ahead of the American, and Louis van Zyl, who produced an imperious surge over the final 50 metres to pull away from his two challengers, crossing the line in a meeting record of 48.11.
“It is always good to get some real competition,” Jackson commented afterwards, adding that he was aiming for gold at this season’s World Championships in Daegu to add to his 2005 title.
“I have been injured over the year,” he added. “I want to stay humble, positive and keep working hard. I am going for 47 flat.”
Van Zyl reflected: “If the wind was normal I could have run faster. But I am satisfied with my result.”
Kiprop wins it easy
Asbel Kiprop, Kenya’s Olympic 1500m champion, went one better than he did here the last two years in the 800m, although he didn’t need to run as fast in the absence of the winner who pushed him to a 1:43.45 run in 2010, David Rudisha. Kiprop’s fellow Kenyan, the World record holder, missed this race along with World indoor champion Abubaker Kaki, the 2009 winner here, because of a minor injury.
On this occasion a time of 1:44.74 was enough to give Kiprop victory, chased home by Britain’s European silver medallist, Michael Rimmer, who recorded 1:45.12.
“If Rudisha and Kaki were in the same race I am sure I could have run faster,” said the Kenyan.
There was also a world lead in the men's 1500m (not a Diamond Race event in Doha), won after a furious kick by Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba in 3:31.84, ahead of last year's fastest over the distance, Silas Kiplagat, who clocked 3:32.15.
World lead for Jimoh
The effervescent Funmi Jimoh won the women’s Long Jump with a world-leading effort of 6.88m on her first effort, but Brazil’s Olympic champion Maurren Maggi came within a centimetre of matching her with her second round attempt, a season’s best.
Third place went to Russia’s Anna Nazarova with 6.77.
“I don’t know what it is about Doha,” said Jimoh, “it is a lot like where I am from in Texas. It is hot and the sun is always up. I love it. I think I am in the best shape of my life. Seven metres is just a matter of time.”
An unanswerable burst of speed over the final 300 metres earned Anna Mishchenko of Ukraine victory in the 1500m in a world-leading time of 4:03.00.
Kenya’s Irene Jelagat, who had contested the lead for much of the race, was second in 4:04.89 with third place going to Morocco’s Siham Hilali, who recorded 4:05.18.
A similar effort over the final lap saw Kenya’s Commonwealth Games champion and Diamond Race winner Milcah Chemos earn victory in the 3000m Steeplechase in a world-leading time of 9: 16.44 which was also a meeting record.
Despite the noisy support of flag-waving Ethiopian supporters beyond the finish line, their fellow countrywoman Sofia Assefa was unable to prevent Kenya claiming the top three places, as Mercy Njoroge took second in a personal best of 9:16.94 and Lydia Rotich, who had led for much of the race, third in 9:19.20.
In the women’s 200m, Lashauntea Moore overhauled her fellow American Charonda Williams in the home straight to claim victory in 22.83, with Williams second in 22.95. Jamaica’s Patricia Hall was third in a personal best of 23.16.
Mike Rowbottom for an IAAF
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Correction: There were 11 world leading performances. In our initial report, we failed to mention the men's 1500m which wasn't a Diamond Race event in Doha. We apologise for the error. - Ed.