Pascal Martinot-Lagarde had suffered losses in his past two 110m hurdles races, which suggested that the Diamond Race leader may have mistimed his peak, but at the IAAF Diamond Race meeting in Lausanne, the world indoor silver medallist suggested that the best is yet to come.
In arguably the highest-quality sprint hurdles race of the year so far, the 22-year-old Frenchman produced the performance of his life to cross the line in a personal best of 13.06 to move to fifth on the European all-time list.
The last European sprint hurdler to run faster was Ladji Doucoure, also of France, in 2005.
Russia’s European champion Sergey Shubenkov was second in a season’s best of 13.13 and Jamaican champion Andrew Riley was third in 13.23, also a season’s best. In fourth, world champion David Oliver clocked the same time as Riley as the top seven finishers all ran faster than 13.30.
Another victory for France came in the men’s pole vault, where Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie scaled 5.87m to keep alive his dreams of winning an unprecedented fifth Diamond Trophy.
The world record-holder opened the competition with a second-time clearance at 5.72m, but needed to go higher as Brazil’s world junior champion Thiago Braz had cleared that height on his first attempt.
Braz was unable to clear 5.87m, while Lavillenie ended with three failed attempts at 5.93m.
Henderson and Sum extend winning streaks
US long jump champion Jeff Henderson faced what was arguably his toughest ever field of opponents but came through the competition unscathed to score his seventh successive victory of the 2014 outdoor season.
Britain’s Olympic champion Greg Rutherford led for the first half of the competition, leaping 8.19m in round two, but Henderson snatched the lead in the fourth round with a leap of 8.31m with all other positions remaining the same for the rest of the competition.
Chinese record-holder Li Jinzhe was third with 8.10m while world champion Aleksandr Menkov made his season’s debut with an 8.02m leap for sixth place.
Eunice Sum’s winning streak is even more impressive as her last loss was more than a year ago. Kenya’s world champion achieved another 800m victory in Lausanne, setting a season’s best of 1:58.48 in the process.
Pacemaker Agatha Jeruto led through the first lap in 54.96 but Sum passed the bell in 56.9 and maintained her lead to the finish. Russia’s Olympic bronze medallist Ekaterina Poistogova came through strong on the final lap but had to settle for second in 1:58.79. Ethiopian teenager Tigist Assefa was third in a personal best of 1:59.24.
After the first lap of the women’s 3000m, it was clear that no one wanted to follow the pacemakers, who were aiming to set up the race for a finishing time in the region of 8:20. Instead, the key contenders were happy to sit back and concentrate on winning.
World indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba kicked hard with 300 metres remaining and opened up a small gap, but she couldn’t quite shake off the rest of the field. Kenya’s world 5000m silver medallist Mercy Cheono moved on to her shoulder coming off the final bend and passed Dibaba with 50 metres to go, winning in 8:50.24.
Kenya’s Jairus Birech is fast making a habit of winning and in Lausanne he turned the men’s 3000m steeplechase into a one-man show.
After being led through 1000m in 2:39.80 and then passing 2000m in 5:21.62, it appeared as though Birech still had a chance to break the meeting record of 8:01.62. However, with no one to challenge him, Birech had to be content with the win in 8:03.34.
More than eight seconds behind in 8:11.93, world silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto enjoyed a competitive return to action in what was his first race of the year.
Adams and Spotakova continue to dominate the throws
A mid-season shoulder injury prevented Valerie Adams from producing her best form in her past few competitions, but the world and Olympic champion showed that she is back to her best with a convincing victory in the shot put.
The competition ended one round early due to problems with the stop board, but by that point – in fact, after the first round – the result was already a foregone conclusion.
The New Zealander opened with 20.42m, replicated that distance in round two and then managed 20.24m in round four. China’s Gong Lijiao set a season’s best of 19.65m in second place.
Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova continues to go from strength to strength in her post-pregnancy comeback.
Each of the Czech’s valid throws in tonight’s javelin competition would have easily been enough to win. Her best throw of 66.72m, a season’s best, came in the third round and her three other measured attempts all landed beyond the 65-metre line.
Two-time world silver medallist Javier Culson notched up his fourth consecutive victory in the 400m hurdles. USA’s Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinsley closed on Culson in the final stages, but the Puerto Rican held on to win in 48.32 from Tinsley’s season’s best of 48.40.
In the absence of Olympic discus champion Robert Harting, world silver medallist Piotr Malachowski seized the opportunity to score valuable points in the Diamond Race. The Polish record-holder threw 66.63m in round two to finish 13cm ahead of the personal best set by Cuba’s Jorge Fernandez.
More importantly, it gave Malachowski another four points to move ahead of Harting in the overall Diamond Race standings.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF