For the second year in a row, the men’s High Jump provided one of the outstanding highlights of the Athletissima meeting as Bohdan Bondarenko set an IAAF Diamond League record in Lausanne on Thursday night (4).
The Ukrainian continued his run of outstanding form, adding five centimetres to the 2.36m best he set just last weekend in Birmingham and improving his national record by one centimetre, an iconic mark which had stood to Rudolf Povarnitsyn since 1985, when he became the first man to jump 2.40m.
Most of the field exited the competition at 2.33m but Bondarenko passed that height and cleared 2.35m on his first attempt. USA’s London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Erik Kynard, the only other athlete left in the competition, then took the lead with a first-time clearance at 2.37m, a personal best.
His rival responded straight away by jumping 2.39m with a huge clearance over the bar. It was clear to Kynard that he had to go higher. After one failure at 2.39m, Kynard then missed twice at 2.41m.
Bondarenko, whose exploits by now had captured the full attention of the capacity crowd, then sailed over 2.41m on his final attempt at that height – the best jump in the world since 1994.
In contrast to several of his other competitions this year, when Bondarenko has stopped jumping as soon as he won the competition, he continued by raising the bar to a would-be World record height of 2.46m.
Given the sheer height of the bar he was attempting to clear, his three attempts were respectable but ultimately he had to settle for a best of 2.41m, not only breaking the meeting record, but it’s the best height ever achieved at an IAAF Diamond League meeting.
“It’s difficult to take in, jumping 2.41m really is something,” said Bondarenko, whose best before this year was 2.31m. “I know that improving on that will be very difficult, but I do feel I will get there.”
Double US sprint champion Tyson Gay showed that his recent times in Des Moines were no fluke. Aided by a perfect 2.0 metres-per-second tailwind, Gay held off a strong challenge from Jamaica’s former World record-holder Asafa Powell to win in 9.79.
Powell clocked a season’s best of 9.88 in second place, ahead of USA’s Mike Rodgers, who was third in 9.96. In fourth, former World champion Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis set a national record and world age-37 best of 9.97.
"The weather wasn't great tonight, but the time still ended up OK, I am happy with 9.79," said Gay, whose victory takes him to equal first in the overall Diamond Race for the 100m, level with compatriot Justin Gatlin. "These are preparation stages for Moscow, that's the main goal. I just don't want to pick up any injuries."
Perkovic and Aregawi early winners of Diamond Race
The first event of the night was also one of the best of the night.
Sandra Perkovic won her fifth Diamond League competition of 2013 and in so doing won the overall Diamond Race in her event. The Croatian won in style too, producing her best mark of the year so far and the second-best throw of her career.
Perkovic had to be on top form too, as the opposition was strong. Cuba’s two-time World silver medallist Yarelis Barrios led temporarily with her second-round throw of 67.36m, the second-best mark of her life.
With the very next throw of the competition, Perkovic responded with 68.96m – an outright Diamond League record, breaking her own 68.77m from Stockholm last year, and just 15 centimetres shy of her best.
“I did not expect to throw this distance today, but when Yarelis threw over 67m in the second round I got really excited that this was going to be a good contest,” said Perkovic.
Seven women broke 62 metres, a first for a Diamond League meeting.
Like Perkovic, Aregawi was a class apart in the 1500m. The Swedish record-holder wasn’t trying to chase a sub-four-minute time in Lausanne and was instead content to notch up another victory.
She won comfortably in 4:02.11, more than one-and-a-half seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Sifan Hassan, who ran a best of 4:03.73.
Provided both Perkovic and Aregawi compete in one of the Diamond League finals in Zurich or Brussels, they will secure the $40,000 bonus for winning the Diamond Race in their events.
Meeting records from Whiting and Ayalew
After being handed his second defeat of the year by compatriot Reese Hoffa in Birmingham last weekend, the USA’s World indoor Shot Put champion Ryan Whiting avenged that loss in style, setting a meeting record in the process.
Whiting led from the outset with 21.31m, but Hoffa moved into first place with 21.40m in round two. The former then sent the Shot flying out to 21.88m in the third round, adding five centimetres to the meeting record set by Christian Cantwell in 2011. Hoffa improved with his next throw to 21.58m, but it wasn’t enough to catch his team mate.
In third, Canada’s Dylan Armstrong set a season’s best of 20.75m while Poland’s two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski is still struggling to find his best form and was down in fifth with 20.26m.
Pre-race favourite Milcah Chemos was a late non-starter in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase, and the Kenyan also lost her meeting record as Ethiopian duo Hiwot Ayalew and Sofia Assefa both dipped under Chemos’s mark from 2011, Ayalew coming through with a late charge in a close finish with 9:17.66 to Assefa’s 9:17.69.
Harper-Nelson and Culson extend leads in Diamond Race
In one of the closest and highest quality races of the night, USA’s 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson edged out several domestic rivals in the 100m Hurdles.
She clocked a season’s best of 12.53 to finish ahead of Kellie Wells and Lolo Jones, the pair clocking 12.58 and 12.60 respectively, as Australia’s reigning World and Olympic champion Sally Pearson finished down in seventh, albeit with a respectable 12.69.
Harper-Nelson’s victory brings her Diamond Race points tally to 16, 10 ahead of her nearest rival.
In the men’s 400m Hurdles, Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson improved his season’s best to 48.14 to move further into the lead in the Diamond Race. He finished comfortably ahead of Dominican Republic’s two-time Olympic champion Felix Sanchez, who also produced his best time of the year with 48.58.
Ethiopian double for Aman and Alamirew
Diamond Race leader Mohammed Aman lived up to expectations in the 800m. The Ethiopian record-holder put his trademark finish to good use in the final 100m, kicking ahead of Pierre-Ambroise Bosse to clock a season’s best of 1:43.33 to the Frenchman’s 1:44.11. Botswana’s 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Nijel Amos, competing in his first 800m race of the year, ran 1:44.71 to finish fourth.
Earlier in the evening, Aman’s Ethiopian team-mate Yenew Alamirew produced a similarly inspired kick finish to win the 5000m. Having been beaten by Olympic champion Mo Farah last weekend in Birmingham, this time there was no stopping Alamirew.
After being paced through 3000m in 7:53, Alamirew was locked in battle with compatriot Hagos Gebrhiwet over the final five laps of the track. Alamirew saved enough to sprint away from the World junior cross-country champion to win in 13:06.69 as Gebrhiwet finished second in 13:07.11.
Numerous favourites beaten
USA’s Brittney Reese suffered another defeat in the Long Jump. The World and Olympic champion trailed Blessing Okagbare for the first three rounds as the Nigerian led with 6.83m. Reese then responded with 6.96m in round four, but the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist regained the lead in round five with a legal best of 6.98m, a mark that remained the best distance on the night. Great Britain’s Shara Proctor set a season’s best of 6.92m in third.
European champion Mariya Ryemyen upset US champion Kimberlyn Duncan in the 200m. The Ukrainian, running from lane two, ran a season’s best of 22.61 to beat USA’s Lashauntea Moore, who finished second in 22.67, as Duncan clocked 22.73 in third.
After her winning streak was ended last weekend in Birmingham, Botswana’s World champion Amantle Montsho was expected to be back on top of the 400m in Lausanne but, in a similarly close finish to her last race, she was beaten by USA’s Francena McCorory, 50.36 to 50.37.
World and Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie had spoken beforehand how he wanted to break the meeting record in what would have been a fourth consecutive victory in Lausanne but the Frenchman disappointingly crashed out at his opening height of 5.62m, leaving Greece’s Konstadinos Filippidis to take the win with 5.72m.
Both of the pre-event favourites in the Triple Jump were beaten. France’s Teddy Tamgho and USA’s Christian Taylor had a fantastic duel last weekend in Birmingham, but in Lausanne they had to play second fiddle to Pedro Pablo Pichardo.
Tamgho bounded out to 17.40m in the second round, but the young Cuban responded with 17.43m in the third, and then ended with 17.58m. Tamgho didn’t improve on his mark while 2012 Olympic champion Taylor could only manage 17.13m.
Another surprise victory came in the Javelin, where Sweden’s Kim Amb defeated Norway’s double Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen, 82.65m to 81.54m in a testing competition where the athletes were throwing into the wind.
Elsewhere, in the non-Diamond League events, USA’s David Oliver won the 110m Hurdles in world-leading 13.03, leading a US 1-2-3-4 finish with World champion Jason Richardson in second in 13.20 and US champion Ryan Wilson third in 13.27. David Payne was fourth, but fell awkwardly after crossing the line and broke his femur.
European champion Churandy Martina won the 200m in a season’s best of 20.01, having earlier won the 100m ‘B’ race in 10.03.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF