The 2013 IAAF Diamond League got off to a bang in May with a host of meeting records and world-leading performances in Doha.
It set the scene perfectly for the fourth season of the 14-meeting series, which saw Usain Bolt notch up five individual victories, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won an unprecedented 100m-200m Diamond Race double, and Renaud Lavillenie and Milcah Chemos maintained their Diamond Race winning streak to a fourth consecutive year.
Doha, 10 May
David Rudisha produced an 800m victory of characteristic majesty in contributing one of 11 world-leading performances as the 2013 IAAF Diamond League got off to a hugely successful launch on a warm and balmy night when fellow Olympic champion Brittney Reese earned victory in the women’s long jump with 7.25m.
The US jumper’s fourth-round effort was the best in the world for nine years, and an improvement of six centimetres on her personal best, set two years earlier. Not only was it a meeting record, it was the best jump in the history of the Diamond League. Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria was second with 7.14m (2.2m/s).
Rudisha, in his first appearance of the season, floated over the line in 1:43.87 ahead of the 19-year-old Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, second in 1:44.21, who had been the only runner to find a way of beating the Kenyan in the previous couple of years.
Apart from Rudisha and Reese, the Doha world-leaders club numbered Sandra Perkovic in the discus (68.23m, MR), Ryan Whiting in the shot put (22.28m MR), Konstantinos Filippidis in the pole vault (5.82m), Abeba Aregawi in the 1500m (3:56.60), Dawn Harper-Nelson in the 100m hurdles (12.60), Lidya Chepkurui in the 3000m Steeplechase (9:13.75 MR), Amantle Montsho (49.88) in the 400m – thus preventing Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix (50.19) from earning an 11th consecutive victory on this track – Asbel Kiprop in the 1500m (3:31.13) and Hagos Gebrhiwet in the 3000m (7:30.36).
In a 1500m race which fully engaged the noisy and flag-waving contingents of Ethiopian and Kenyan supporters, Sweden’s Aregawi was challenged by the diminutive figure of Faith Kipyegon – still a junior – who moved past the tiring figure of Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba to finish second in a Kenyan record of 3:56.98, with Dibaba earning a personal best of 3:57.54.
Perkovic threw a world lead and meeting record of 67.37m and continued in demoralising fashion with throws of 66.36m, 65.70m and 67.13m before reaching 68.23m on her last attempt with all five valid efforts being unmatched by any of her competitors.
Shanghai, 18 May
Long jumper Li Jinzhe rose to the challenge of a home meeting which produced four meeting records and nine world leads as he defeated a field which included the three past Olympic champions in Dwight Phillips, Irving Saladino and Greg Rutherford to win with 8.34m, finishing three centimetres clear of Russia’s Alexander Menkov.
On an evening when, but for a brief shower at the start, competition was unhindered by the rain which had fallen for the previous few days, the other world leads came from Kirani James in the 400m (44.02), Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100m (10.93), Francine Niyonsaba in the 800m (2: 00.33, outdoor lead), Genzebe Dibaba in the 5000m (14:45.92), Conseslus Kipruto in the 3000m steeplechase (8:01.16), Zuzana Hejnova in the 400m hurdles (53.79), Caterine Ibarguen in the triple jump (14.69m ) and Tero Pitkamaki in the javelin (87.60m).
There was also injury drama, with Olympic champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt pulling up before the first hurdle in the 110m hurdles, Carmelita Jeter exiting the track on a stretcher after finishing third in the 100m and Rutger Smith suffering a severe leg injury in the discus.
Merritt pulled up largely as a precautionary measure after feeling cramping sensations in his right hamstring in the warm-up to a race won by 2011 world champion Jason Richardson in 13.23, while Jeter clutched the back of her thigh as she hobbled through the last few steps of her 100m.
James, the world and Olympic champion, faced London minor medallists Luguelin Santos and Lalonde Gordon, as well as former world and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who finished second in 44.60 as his successor recorded the fastest ever Diamond League time.
Dibaba earned her victory by sprinting clear of her compatriot, Olympic champion Meseret Defar, who was second in 14:48.29.
Pitkamaki finished narrowly clear of the Czech Republic’s Viteslav Vesely, who threw 86.67m, while in the men’s high jump another duel took place between Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko, with the former taking the win on count-back, having cleared 2.33m on the first attempt. In Doha the previous Friday Bondarenko had beaten his rival on home territory.
New York, 25 May
Unseasonably cold and rainy conditions did not prevent some big performances in the field events as Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic obliterated the meeting record and improved her world lead to 68.48m at the adidas Grand Prix, while her friend and compatriot Blanka Vlasic, the former world champion, earned victory with a meeting record of 1.94m in her first high jump competition for 20 months following injury and illness.
Other highlights included Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet securing his second Diamond League victory of the season with a world-leading 13:10.03 in the 5000m, and US long jumper Janay DeLoach Soukup beating her compatriot, Olympic champion Brittney Reese, with a meeting record of 6.79m.
Perkovic’s first throw was a meeting record of 64.00m, but after a near 45-minute delay between the first two rounds that left the competitors stranded in the cold and damp, her second throw went only to 62.50m and she contemplated finishing her competition. However a third effort of 66.31m changed her mind.
The Croatian, who left her coach Ivan Ivancic after winning the Olympic title to let her boyfriend Edis Elkasevic guide her career, sent her fourth effort into the cage but then produced her best throw in the fifth round having taken time out to warm herself up with hot water.
In her first competition since recovering from achilles tendon surgery and a serious bacterial infection, Vlasic was apprehensive coming up against a field featuring the meeting record-holder in Sweden’s Emma Green Tregaro and the USA’s Olympic silver medallist Brigetta Barrett.
However, her fears turned out to be unfounded as she cleared the first six heights of the competition with her first attempts, including one at 1.94m which equalled Green Tregaro’s meeting record set in 2011.
“I cannot explain to you how scared I was before this competition,” said Vlasic. “I was jumping around 1.90m in my training and still feeling a lot of pain. This is just a dream come true.”
Eugene, 1 June
Qatar’s 21-year-old Olympic bronze medallist Mutaz Essa Barshim set an Asian high jump record of 2.40m, contributing one of 10 world leads to the Prefontaine Classic meeting.
He was the first man to scale that height outdoors since Russia’s Vyacheslav Voronin in 2000, beating a mark of 2.39m which, when it was set in 1984 by China’s Zhu Jianhua, was also the world record.
The USA’s Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard and Canada’s Olympic bronze medallist Derek Drouin cleared personal best heights of 2.36m for second and third place respectively.
France’s Olympic pole vault champion Renaud Lavillenie won with a world-leading 5.95m, while in the discus, Germany’s world and Olympic champion Robert Harting extended his winning streak to 35 competitions with a massive world-leading 69.75m.
The women’s triple jump saw Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen win with a slightly wind-assisted 14.93m, with Ukraine’s Olha Saladhua second with a legal 14.85m – a world-leading legal mark.
The women’s 400m hurdles and the men’s 110m hurdles produced world-leading performances from, respectively, the Czech Republic's Zuzana Hejnova, who clocked 53.70, and Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist Hansle Parchment, who ran a national record of 13.05.
Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba won the women’s 800m in a meeting record and world-leading 1:56.72, while fifth-placed Mary Cain, just 17, moved to third on the world youth all-time list over two laps with 1:59.51.
Silas Kiplagat beat fellow Kenyan Asbel Kiprop in the Bowerman mile, clocking a world-leading 3:49.48, with the former Olympic champion second in 3:49.53.
Another Kenyan win came from Edwin Soi, who out-sprinted Britain’s double Olympic champion Mo Farah to win the 5000m in a world-leading time of 13:04.75. For Farah, second in 13:05.88, it was a first defeat in a track final since finishing fourth in the 2012 World Indoor Championships 3000m.
Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba supplanted her younger sister Genzebe at the head of the 2013 world lists for 5000m with a time of 14:42.01.
LaShawn Merritt inflicted the first 400m defeat Kirani James had suffered since winning the Olympic title the previous year, the US sprinter finishing in 44.32.
Double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100m in a wind-assisted 10.71.
Rome, 6 June
Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion, arrived in Italy saying that he wanted to make a statement by beating the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Usain Bolt.
The US sprinter proved as good as his word as he shocked the world record-holder – and most of the 53,305 crowd in the Olympic Stadium – by winning in 9.94, with Bolt clocking 9.95.
“That was ridiculous, a perfect start and then I just cropped off,” said Bolt. “I think it was the perfect start that threw my game off. I have to do more strength work, I guess. I think it needs just some time to get it all back together.”
The other major upset of the night came in the women’s 200m, where the Ivory Coast’s US-based Murielle Ahoure set a national record of 22.38 and left Olympic champion Allyson Felix a distant second in 22.64.
There were three world-leading times on the track. Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman won the 800m in 1:43.61, just ahead of another fast-rising young talent, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse. The 21-year-old Frenchman was second in a personal best of 1:43.91.
Botswana’s 2011 world champion Amantle Montsho won her 400m in a world-leading 49.87, and the last of the world-leading times came from Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew, who clocked 12:54.96 in the 5000m.
Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic earned a third consecutive Diamond League victory in the discus with 68.25m, almost four metres better than anyone else.
Germany’s Christina Obergfoll was equally impressive, despite being tired after flying in from the west coast of the United States after winning in Eugene the previous Saturday, taking victory in the javelin with 66.45m.
And Germany’s Olympic and European bronze medallist Raphael Holzdeppe equalled his personal best of 5.91m in winning the pole vault.
In the women’s high jump, there was a rare dead heat for first place between the Russian pair of Anna Chicherova and Svetlana Shkolina after both had cleared 1.98m with identical records and then performed identically in the jump-off down, where they agreed to split the prize money and Diamond Race points after successful attempts at 1.97m.
Oslo, 13 June
Usain Bolt produced a world-leading performance of 19.79 in the 200m at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games despite cold conditions, with a capacity crowd witnessing his eclipse of the meeting record of 19.82 set by Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks in 1996.
After European champion Churandy Martina had been disqualified for a false start, Bolt got out of his blocks cautiously at the second time of asking with a reaction time of 0.182, but he was soon into his stride, finishing more than half a second clear of home runner Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, who clocked a season’s best of 20.36.
“It was very chilly today, but I ran as fast as I could, and as I promised,” said Bolt, competing for the first time since his 100m defeat in Rome. “My goals are the same – to be the best in the world and win three gold medals in Moscow. And my dream is to break 19 seconds in the 200m."
Two-time Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar earned the fourth victory of her career on the Bislett track where she had set a world record of 14:16.63 in 2007. Defar ran the sting out of her Ethiopian compatriot Genzebe Dibaba, who had beaten her at the Shanghai Diamond League meeting, and covered the final 400m in 61.7 to finish in 14:26.90.
Vitezslav Vesely, the European javelin champion, led the competition from start to finish, improving on his opening throw of 83.98m with a second-round effort of 85.96m that was not bettered.
The withdrawal of Kenya's world champion Asbel Kiprop threw the Dream Mile wide open and Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman grabbed the opportunity to take his first ever Diamond League win in 3:50.53 ahead of Kenya’s Nixon Chepseba who set a personal best of 3:50.95.
A clearance of 1.97m enabled Svetlana Shkolina to end the unbeaten 2013 run put together by fellow Russian Anna Chicherova, the Olympic high jump champion.
After her surprise defeat of Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix in Rome the previous week, Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure suffered an unexpected defeat herself over 100m by Ivet Lalova, who recorded a season’s best of 11.04 to Ahoure’s 11.06.
Birmingham, 30 June
On a warm afternoon when many leading performers suffered defeats, home runner Mo Farah was one of the few to resist the trend. He brought the meeting to a rousing close with a super-fast final 100m to beat Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew and Hagos Gebrhiwet at the end of a tactical 5000m.
Among the major names who relinquished unbeaten records were Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the women’s 200m and Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles, while two other Olympic champions, Aries Merritt and Felix Sanchez, were left adrift in their hurdles races. Sandra Perkovic, however, remained undefeated in the women’s discus after winning with 64.43m.
Elsewhere, Amantle Montsho suffered her first 400m Diamond League loss of the season behind Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu, who won by 0.01 in 50.63.
Milcah Chemos set a meeting record of 9:17.43 in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, and Bohdan Bondarenko matched Javier Sotomayor’s 20-year-old meeting record in the high jump as he improved his personal best by three centimetres to 2.36m.
Farah ran 52.36 for the last 400m and 27.26 for the final half lap to hold off his tormentors in the 5000m, crossing the line in 13:14.24 a stride ahead and with just enough time for the “Mobot” pose.
“It was important that I won the race and that I keep working hard now and get ready for the World Championships,” said Farah.
The earliest cheers of the day were for Christian Taylor, the Birmingham-based US triple jumper who finished clear of France’s Teddy Tamgho with a best of 17.66m.
“I knew it was going to be a special day,” said Taylor. “I live down the street now so I can almost call it home.”
Fraser-Pryce’s first defeat of the year after six straight wins came at the hands of Blessing Okabare, who clocked 22.55 in the 200m with the Jamaican second in 22.72.
Pearson, recovering from early season injury problems, endured her worst defeat for three years as she finished fourth in the 100m hurdles behind US pair Dawn Harper-Nelson (12.64) and Kellie Wells (12.67), with Britain’s Tiffany Porter third.
Merritt also had injury problems and was second with 13.22 behind former world champion Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados, who clocked 13.13.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF