The bold new world of the Samsung Diamond League encompassed 32 individual events staged within 14 meetings around the globe. In the last of his three-part review, IAAF correspondent Mike Rowbottom concludes with a look back at the meetings in Stockholm and London, an the finales in Zurich and Brussels.
Each discipline was staged seven times, with double points on offer in the two mandatory concluding competitions in Zurich and Brussels, and the athletes who scored the most to win the Diamond Race in their respective events stood to earn a Diamond Trophy - created by Beyer, established as jewellers in Zurich in the 18th century - and $40,000 prize money.
The most memorable race of 2010 brought an upset which Tyson Gay, but not many others, had been predicting, as the American inflicted upon Usain Bolt his first defeat over 100m in two years.
In what was only their third meeting in the shorter sprint the two men lined up side-by-side in the historic 1912 Olympic stadium before a race in which the Olympic and World champion’s trademark late surge never arrived, leaving Gay a clear winner in a meeting record of 9.84.
“I told you I’m not unbeatable,” said Bolt, whose last loss over the distance came on this same track two years ago. The Jamaican reached the line in 9.97, the second slowest final of his career.
“I’m happy with the victory, but still looking forward to when Usain and Asafa (Powell) will be in 9.6 shape to race with them,” said Gay, who also took home a one carat diamond for breaking Powell’s 9.86 stadium record, set in 2008, when he beat Bolt.
A crowd of 15,472, over the stadium’s official capacity, witnessed not only the duel of the ‘big-two’, but several other outstanding spectacles.
Bershawn Jackson also claimed a diamond after his runaway victory in the 400m Hurdles, as he clocked 47.65 to better the mark of 47.98 set 20 years ago by Danny Harris.
In the women’s sprint hurdles, Australia’s Sally Pearson beat a formidable field with a season’s best of 12.57 to take her first Diamond Race victory. The 23-year-old Olympic silver medallist edged out Canada’s Priscilla Lopes-Schliep by just 0.02, with Lolo Jones, the overall Diamond Race leader with 13 points, third in 12.70.
Less than a week after taking her first European High Jump title, Blanka Vlasic extended her unbeaten streak in Samsung Diamond League to five with yet another victory over world leader Chaunte Lowe thanks to a 2.02m clearance.
Russia’s European 3000m Steeplechase champion Yuliya Zarudneva won in 9:17.59, nearly two seconds ahead of Milcah Chemos (9:19.32), the African champion.
In the Triple Jump, Christian Olsson’s hopes of securing a home victory were frustrated by Teddy Tamgho, who won with 17.36m after Olsson had opened with a season’s best of 17.32.
Russian 19-year-old Darya Klishina made up for her absence from the European championships with her first victory in the Samsung Diamond League thanks to a 6.78m Long Jump.
Tero Pitkämäki earned his first Samsung Diamond League victory with 84.41m to defeat the event leader Andreas Thorkildsen, who threw 83.63.
The heavens opened before the first day of the Aviva London grand prix – but it still didn’t rain on Tyson Gay’s parade.
The 2007 World 100m and 200m champion defied the elements at the end of an evening that was still damp and gloomy to win the 100 metres in 9.78, the fastest time recorded all season, despite a headwind of -0.4mps.
When the gun went for the final at 8.48pm the termperature was around 16 degrees and there were only three men in contention – Gay, Walter Dix, who had beaten him over 200m in Eugene, and Jamaica’s rising talent Yohan Blake.
An injury at the halfway point slowed Dix dramatically – he finished in 12.46 – leaving Gay in the clear. Blake, 20, was his nearest challenger, setting a personal best of 9.89.
Sally Pearson and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, respectively the 2008 Olympic silver and bronze medallists, also showed scant regard for the conditions in the 100m Hurdles, where Lopes-Schliep overhauled the Australian to win in 12.52, a meeting record and the only other World leading performance of the day.
With double World Indoor champion Lolo Jones finishing third in 12.66, Lopes-Schliep and the American were left tied on 14 points in the Diamond Race with one competition in the 100m Hurdles remaining, and $40,000 and the Diamond Trophy up for grabs.
Earlier, the downpour had halted the men’s Pole Vault for half an hour, and both Steven Hooker and Diamond Race leader Renaud Lavillenie failed to clear their opening heights of 5.51m, giving Poland’s Luhasz Michalski the chance to win with 5.71.
Allyson Felix remained beyond challenge in the 200m Diamond Race following victory in 22.37.
Blanka Vlasic also embraced the elements to win with 2.01m and earn her sixth out of six Diamond League victories.
“By the end I couldn’t feel my legs it was so cold,” she said.
Mo Farah, the newly established European 5000 and 10,000m champion, did all he could to prove a 16,000 crowd with a victory in the 3000m, but had to give best to the 2007 World 1500 and 5000m champion Bernard Lagat, who won in 7:40.75, with Farah clocking 7:40.36.
A swift last lap saw Tirunesh Dibaba’s beat Kenya’s World champion Vivian Cheruiyot in the 5000m, clocking 14:36.41.
Barbora Spotakova, nursing an arm injury, won the Javelin Throw with one attempt, registering 63.50m.
Allyson Felix produced a performance that combined grace and endurance on the second day of the meeting as she added a 400m victory to her 200m win of the previous night. Felix held off the late challenge of World Indoor champion Debbie Dunn to finish in 50.79.
The triple World 200m champion thus became the first athlete to claim two maximum points score at the same Diamond League meeting, and now shares the distinction of having won six Diamond League races this season with Blanca Vlasic.
The only other athlete who might have joined Felix and Vlasic on six wins, Christian Cantwell, saw his winning run brought to an unexpected end as he could only finish third in a Shot Put competition won by his fellow American, Reese Hoffa, with a season’s best of 21.44m.
Germany’s surprise European silver medallist Matthias De Zordo looked as if he might be about to manage the major accomplishment of beating the Olympic and World champion Andreas Thorkildsen when he threw 86.97m, but the Norwegian responded with 87.38.
David Oliver of the United States was only a thousandth off a meeting record in the 110m Hurdles as he dominated the field to finish well clear in 13.06 into a 0.4mps headwind – just shy of his fellow American Allen Johnson’s effort here of 13.05 in 1995.
The yellow flower worn in the hair of 800m Diamond Race leader Alysia Johnson still looked fresh at the end of a swift and tactical race, but the American herself wilted dramatically in the final stages, slipping from first to eight in the space of the last 80 metres in a race where Russia’s World Indoor and European champion, Mariya Savinova, won in 1:58.64.
Augustine Choge became one of the illustrious list of Emsley Carr Mile entrants including Kip Keino, Jim Ryun, Seb Coe and Steve Ovett to write their name in the book of victors as he won a race counting towards the Diamond League in a personal best of 3:50.14.
On a night when the destination of half of the 32 Diamond Race Trophies was decided, David Oliver and Jeremy Wariner produced the two stand-out performances to claim the trophy and $40,000 prize money for their respective events, the 110m Hurdles and the 400 metres.
A sell-out crowd of more than 26,000 boisterous fans at Letzigrund Stadium saw Oliver claim his prizes by extending his winning streak to 12. Oliver stopped the clock at 12.93, just 0.01 off the meeting record set by former World record holder Roger Kingdom 21 years earlier.
“I’m not the perfect hurdler. That’s why I’m missing the World record,” Oliver said. “But I’ll fix that mistake one time.”
It wasn’t mathematically possible for Jamaican Jermaine Gonzales to overtake Jeremy Wariner in the 400m trophy hunt, but the 25-year-old had a point to prove against the World leader. And after a blazing first half, it appeared that Gonzales had arrived ready to make it. But the former Olympic champion remained calm to prevail in a world-leading 44.13, his fastest time in two years.
Veronica Campbell-Brown had no chance of catching Carmelita Jeter in the 100m Diamond Trophy chase, but she made a point here as she won by the margin of one thousandth of a second – 10.889 to 10.890.
With the departure of series leader Walter Dix due to injury, the winner of the 200m was all but assured of taking the Diamond Race Trophy, and Wallace Spearmon took up the challenge with a meeting record of 19.79. Yohan Blake, just 20, was second in 19.86.
Allyson Felix secured the first half of a Diamond Race double by winning the 400m in 50.37, finishing with 20 points, twice that of runner-up Debbie Dunn.
Kaliese Spencer obliterated a strong field in the women’s 400m Hurdles to claim the Diamond Race Trophy she’d come to Zurich to collect. And the 23-year-old Jamaican did it in style, winning by more than a full second in a personal best of 53.33.
Nancy Langat, who had already clinched the Diamond Race in the 1500m, won in 4:01.01, more than a second clear of Gelete Burka.
Imane Merga only needed a top-three finish to secure the Diamond Race for the 5000m, and secured second place with 12:36.54 as Tariku Bekele won in 12:55.03.
The massive figure of Chris Solinsky followed Merga home in 12:56.45 and the first six across the line all dipped under 13 minutes, Mo Farah among them in 12:57.94, shattering the 13:00.41 British national record (and former World record) set by Dave Moorcroft in 1982.
In the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, Ezekiel Kemboi won the final battle, coming home in 8:01.74, but it was Paul Kipsiele Koech who won the war, taking the trophy after finishing second in 8:05.48.
The first Diamond Race of the evening to be decided was in the men’s discus, with Poland’s Piotr Malachowski, who had arrived in Zurich with just a one-point advantage in the series, prevailing after taking second place with 68.48m.
Brittney Reese, the indoor and outdoor World Long Jump champion, secured her trophy with a winning leap of 6.89m.
An 8.20m effort was enough to see Dwight Phillips take the men’s Long Jump trophy for the United States too.
Fabiana Murer pole vaulted 4.81m to take both the meeting and overall series honours, while Russia’s Ivan Ukhov high jumped 2.29m to win on the night, and overall.
Barbora Spotakova, troubled by an elbow injury throughout the season, secured her javelin Diamond Trophy with an effort of 65.34m that earned her second place on the night behind Germany’s Christina Obergfoll.
The meeting had effectively begun at the Zurich main station the day before, where Nadezhda Ostapchuk secured the first Diamond Trophy in the Shot Put, ahead of World champion Valerie Vili.
Tyson Gay held off the challenge of Jamaica’s up-and-coming talent Nesta Carter to secure the 100m Diamond Trophy on a night when all the remaining competitions were concluded.
Despite an unseasonal chill and wet track, another sell-out crowd of 47,000 fans at King Baudouin Stadium were treated to the season’s second fastest 100m run courtesy of Gay who for the second consecutive meeting simply defied the conditions, producing a time of 9.79, the sixth sub-9.80 race of his career. Carter chased him to the line in a personal best of 9.85.
“At about 50 or 60 metres I was still ahead of Gay, that gave me wings,” said Carter. His Jamaican colleague Yohan Blake also dipped under 10 seconds, clocking 9.91.
Gay was one of 16 athletes to collect the remaining Diamond Race Trophies and $40,000 cash prizes at this second of two Samsung Diamond League finals.
Returning to the track for the first time since his 1:41.09 World record in Berlin the previous Sunday, Kenya’s David Rudisha secured the 800m trophy with victory in 1:43.50, with Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki second in 1:43.84.
Christian Cantwell claimed the Shot Put trophy, but US colleague Reese Hoffa defied him on the day with an effort of 22.16m.
Things went significantly better for Andreas Thorkildsen, who like Cantwell had the series clinched prior to his start. But the double Olympic champion won with 89.88m, the second furthest throw of the year.
Bershawn Jackson had also secured his trophy in the 400m Hurdles, but he finished with a fourth straight win, clocking 47.85.
In the women’s 100m Hurdles, Canada’s Priscilla Lopes-Schliep’s won her fourth straight race convincingly in 12.54 to snatch the trophy from Lolo Jones of the United States in one of the season’s most competitive events.
In the 200m, Allyson Felix won her second Diamond Race Trophy in eight days, stopping the clock at 22.61.
Blanka Vlasic lived up to her title as Samsung Diamond League Ambassador by becoming the only athlete to finish the series undefeated, winning with 2.00m at the venue where she lost a chance of sharing the Golden League jackpot in rainy conditions two years ago.
Janeth Jepkosgei, the 2007 World 800m champion, held off Russia’s European champion Mariya Savinova to lift the Diamond Race Trophy in the women’s 800m as she won in 1:58.82.
Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic champion, prevailed overall in the 1500m as he held off fellow Kenyan Augustine Choge in a season’s best of 3:32.18.
A year after taking the World 5000m title, Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot took top honours in the same event with a straightforward victory in 14:34.13.
Milcah Chemos secured her trophy in the 3000m Steeplechase despite being beaten on the night by Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa, who clocked a season’s best 9:20.72.
Frenchman Teddy Tamgho earned a win - and the Diamond Race Trophy – with a Triple Jump of 17.52m. Yargelis Savigne of Cuba took the women’s Triple Jump honours, finishing second here with 14.56m.
In the men’s Pole Vault, Germany’s Malte Mohr won with a personal best of 5.85m, but the trophy had already gone to Renaud Lavillenie, second on the night with 5.80.
Second place also earned Yarelis Barrios the trophy in the women’s discus.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF
2010 Samsung Diamond Race Winners:
100m - Tyson Gay
200m - Wallace Spearmon
400m - Jeremy Wariner
800m - David Rudisha
1500m - Asbel Kiprop
5000m - Imane Merga
3000m Steeplechase - Paul Kipsiele Koech
110m Hurdles - David Oliver
400m Hurdles - Bershawn Jackson
High Jump - Ivan Ukhov
Pole Vault - Renaud Lavillenie
Long Jump - Dwight Phillips
Triple Jump - Teddy Tamgho
Shot Put - Christian Cantwell
Discus Throw - Piotr Malachowski
Javelin Throw - Andreas Thorkildsen
100m - Carmelita Jeter
200m - Allyson Felix
400m - Allyson Felix
800m - Janeth Jepkosgei
1500m - Nancy Jebet Langat
5000m - Vivian Cheruiyot
3000m Steeplechase - Milcah Chemos Cheiywa
100m Hurdles - Priscilla Lopes-Schliep
400m Hurdles - Kaliese Spencer
High Jump - Blanka Vlašic
Pole Vault - Fabiana Murer
Long Jump - Brittney Reese
Triple Jump - Yargelis Savigne
Shot Put - Nadezhda Ostapchuk
Discus Throw - Yarelis Barrios
Javelin Throw - Barbora Špotáková