Earlier this week, Usain Bolt said that he didn’t like running in the cold. The multiple World record-holder may not have enjoyed the conditions at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo tonight (13) but on a dry and cool evening at the IAAF Diamond League meeting, the Jamaican didn’t let it show.
Competing in the 200m, the final event on the programme, Bolt provided the only meeting record of the night, sending the capacity crowd home happy that they had witnessed a historic performance.
After European champion Churandy Martina was disqualified for a false start, Bolt got off out of his blocks cautiously at the second time of asking with a reaction time of 0.182. Once he got into his stride, though, there was no stopping him.
His lead off the bend was already considerable, and he extended it further down the straight to win by more than half-a-second. His time of 19.79 is not only a world-leading performance, but it broke the meeting record set by Namibia's Frankie Fredericks in 1996.
Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure was content enough to finish second with a season’s best of 20.36 with Britain’s James Ellington third in 20.55.
“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 last week in Rome. “I'm never worried, I never focus on somebody else.”
"It's now back to Jamaica for me. 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."
Fourth Oslo win for Defar
Two-time Olympic 500m champion Meseret Defar is the distance queen of Oslo. The Ethiopian has won here three times before, highlighted by her 2007 World record of 14:16.63. She was beaten by Genzebe Dibaba in Shanghai in her first Diamond League appearance of 2013, but Defar wasn’t ready to suffer a defeat on one of her favourite European tracks.
After a good pace-making job – going through 3000m in 8:48.10 – Defar picked up the tempo in an attempt to run the sting out of her compatriot, Dibaba. The tactic worked and she kicked hard on the final lap to extend her margin over the field, covering the final 400m in 61.7 seconds.
Defar – who last summer didn’t win a single track races outside of the Olympics – was rewarded with a world-leading time of 14:26.90, her fastest performance since 2010 and the 12th fastest run ever.
“Before Shanghai I was sick and I nearly cancelled the race,” said Defar. “Here all was okay. I think I’m even in World record shape, but I’m not confident enough to try for it. This year the main goal is the 5000m but I think I will have a surprise for my fans. You will see in due time.”
Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot overtook a fading Dibaba to take second, 14:33.48 to 14:37.68.
There had been talk of a potential meeting record, maybe even the first performance below eight minutes on Norwegian soil, in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase.
Kenya’s 2012 World junior champion Conseslus Kipruto, undefeated this year, was the favourite and was operating close to World-record pace for much of the race. The quick early laps, going through the first kilometre in 2:36, eventually took their toll, however, and the teenager had to be content with the victory in 8:04.48. Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi once again finished behind his younger compatriot, this time with a season’s best of 8:07.00.
Vesely and Souleiman win Bislett’s traditional events
Home meeting of two-time Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen, the Bislett Games proudly hosts the Javelin every year and the Norwegian two-time Olympic champion had been hopeful of his first victory here since 2010, having returned to form last weekend with an 84.64m season’s best.
However, the 2012 European champion Vitezslav Vesely was just too strong. The Czech led from start to finish, opening with 83.98m then improving to 85.96m in the next round, a mark that remained the best throw of the competition, although Finland's 2007 World champion Tero Pitkamaki produced a solid 84.74m in the third round to land second place.
Thorkildsen, meanwhile, broke 80 metres three times in the competition but his best of the series, 80.99m, was only good enough for sixth place.
“In warm up I felt good, but in competition I struggled with my run up,” said Vesely, barely satisfied despite his good win. “I also felt my Achilles on my last few throws. If it wasn’t for the weather and the head-wind, the throws would have been further.”
Another tradition of the Bislett Games is, of course, the Dream Mile. The withdrawal of Kenya's World champion Asbel Kiprop threw the race wide open, and Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman grabbed the opportunity to take his first ever Diamond League win.
Having finished fourth in the Mile in Eugene earlier this month, this time Souleiman – a training partner of Algeria's Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi – surged to the front just after the bell and held his form to win in 3:50.53. Behind him, Kenya’s Nixon Chepseba set a personal best of 3:50.95, finishing ahead of compatriot James Magut, who was third in 3:51.11.
Shkolina and Lalova win close contests
As was the case at last week’s Diamond League meeting in Rome, World and Olympic champion Anna Chicherova faced stiff competition from her Russian compatriot Svetlana Shkolina. This time, the pair were joined at the higher heights by Sweden’s Emma Green Tregaro.
The crucial height proved to be 1.97m, with Green Tregaro first bowing out, then Shkolina clearing it well on her third attempt to win and take the lead in the Diamond Race. Chicherova had just one jump remaining but brought the bar down, thus ending her 2013 winning streak.
Norway’s European silver medallist Tonje Angelsen was content to open her season with a 1.90m jump in fourth, but two-time World champion Blanka Vlasic went out at that height.
After surprisingly beating Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix in Rome last week, all eyes were on Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure in the 100m but the Olympic finalist was herself handed a surprise in the form of Ivet Lalova from Bulgaria.
The European champion came through strongly over the last 20 metres and clocked a season’s best of 11.04 to Ahoure’s 11.06. In third, Ukraine’s 2012 European 200m gold medallist Mariya Ryemyen proved her recent best of 11.06 was no fluke, crossing the line in 11.07.
Malachowski and Murer beaten
One of the biggest shocks of the evening happened halfway through the first event of the night. Discus thrower Piotr Malachowski, fresh from his world-leading throw of 71.84m last week in Hengelo but citing a back problem, recorded three no throws to make an early exit from the competition. In his absence, 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter won with a season’s best of 65.52m. The Estonian now draws level with Malachowski in the Diamond Race.
Arab champion Youssef Masrahi escaped a potential disqualification in the 400m. At the first time of asking, the Saudi athlete jumped the gun but it was ruled a faulty start, however, and he was allowed to line up again.
The minor scare may have given him just the adrenaline boost he needed as he went on to win the race in 45.33 with Bahamas' Ramon Miller second in 45.58. Dominican Republic's 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos faded in the home straight to finish fourth (45.69).
World Pole Vault champion Fabiana Murer suffered a similar fate to Malachowski. The Brazilian recorded three no-jumps on her opening height of 4.50m. It left the way clear for a close battle to ensue between Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg and Greek record holder Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou.
The pair had identical cards through to 4.60m, then Spiegelburg failed three times at 4.70m, followed by three missed clearances at 4.75m from Kyriakopoulou. They then faced a jump-off situation and Spiegelburg snatched the win with a 4.65m jump.
Hejnova, Schwanitz and Ibarguen continue winning streaks
Olympic bronze medallist Zuzana Hejnova notched up her third Diamond League victory of the year, improving on her season’s best set in Eugene. The Czech record-holder clocked 53.60 with Great Britain’s Perri Shakes-Drayton as her nearest challenger, setting a season’s best of 54.03 in second place. In third, the USA's 2007 World youth champion Dalilah Muhammad continues to fulfill her teenage promise this season and clocked a personal best of 54.33.
Germany’s Christina Schwanitz, currently enjoying the best season of her life, won her 12th successive competition of 2013. The 2013 European indoor champion putted 20.10m, the second-best result of her career, to finish ahead of her compatriot Nadine Kleinert.
All of Schwanitz’s valid throws were at least a metre farther than Kleinert’s 18.17m.
Caterine Ibarguen extended her 2013 unbeaten streak in the Triple Jump. The Colombian 2012 Olympic silver medallist defeated her Ukrainian regular rival and World champion Olha Saladuha, 14.81m to 14.56m.
British double for Porter and Proctor
Great Britain's 2012 Olympic Heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis had been expected to compete in three events, including the 100m Hurdles, in Oslo but withdrew earlier in the week, having not recovered in time from a minor Achilles injury.
In her absence from the sprint hurdles, fellow Briton Tiffany Porter was a comfortable winner in 12.76 with Belgium's Sara Aerts second in 12.95.
Last year's World indoor bronze medallist Shara Proctor made it a British double, winning the Long Jump with her first round leap of 6.89m. It put her 21cm ahead of France's 2012 European champion Eloyse Lesueur with Russia's Olympic silver medallist Yelena Sokolova third with 6.65m.
Elsewhere, Russia’s Olympic bronze medallist Yekaterina Poistogova came through strong in the final stages of the women’s 800m to win in 1:59.39, overtaking the 2013 European indoor champion Nataliya Lupu close to the line, the Ukrainian finishing second in 1:59.59.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF