It had been billed as the biggest clash of the evening and it didn’t disappoint.
The women’s 200m at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels was something of a rematch of last year’s AG Insurance Memorial Van Damme. On that occasion, Allyson Felix beat Dafne Schippers, taking away the Dutch sprinter’s world-leading mark in the process.
Both athletes went into this year’s race as newly crowned world champions. Felix had won over 400m in Beijing, while Schippers had triumphed over the half-lap event. As well as pride, the Diamond Race was also at stake.
With the presence of world silver medallist Elaine Thompson, it also meant that for the first time in history, three women with sub-21.7 PBs were on the same 200m startline.
It was Felix who held the lead coming off the bend with Schippers just behind; Thompson and USA’s Candyce McGrone were also in contention.
It’s not often that Felix is passed in the closing stages of the 200m, but Schippers did exactly that.
The European record-holder drew level with about 50 metres to go and then pulled clear, winning in 22.12. Felix crossed the line in 22.22, but her second-place finish gave her enough points to win her fourth Diamond Race title.
Thompson finished third in 22.26 with McGrone, who was fourth in Beijing, taking fourth again in 22.52.
“I felt strong coming off the curve, so I gave it all the power I had,” said Schippers. “You never know what the others might do, but I felt strong and thought I could take the win.”
As was the case in the 200m, the athlete who finished second in the women's 400m came away as the Diamond Race winner.
World indoor champion Francena McCorory had a lead of about six metres coming into the home straight and looked to be on course for victory, but world silver medallist Shaunae Miller caught her just metres before the finish line to win in 50.48.
McCorory clocked 50.59 in second, but was still happy to have won the Diamond Race and end her season on a high, having missed out on being part of the US team for the individual 400m in Beijing and then being passed in the closing stages of the 4x400m at the IAAF World Championships.
The women’s 100m hurdles was one of the closest events in terms of the Diamond Race standings coming into Brussels, with three women tied at the top. Defending Diamond Race champion Dawn Harper Nelson was perhaps the athlete who felt she had the most to prove, having fallen in the semi-finals in Beijing.
This time, though, the 2008 Olympic champion was flawless. She was slightly behind world leader Sharika Nelvis at the halfway point, but – as is her trademark – came through strong over the final hurdles to win in 12.63, just 0.02 ahead of her US compatriot.
Jasmin Stowers was third in 12.76 with Tiffany Porter fourth in 12.81. The finish of the top four athletes in this race reflected their positions in the final Diamond Race standings.
The finish in the men’s 100m was even closer than at the World Championships, only this time Justin Gatlin came out on top. And, of course, this time there was no Usain Bolt.
Gatlin got off to his usual solid start, but instead of pulling away in the second half, as he has done in most of his IAAF Diamond League races this year, he was unable to get away from Qatar’s Femi Ogunode.
The Asian record-holder drew level with Gatlin in the closing stages, but the world silver medallist got the verdict in a photo-finish, both athletes being given the same time of 9.98 as just 0.005 separated them. France’s Jimmy Vicaut was a close third in 9.99.
Having won the Diamond Race in the 100m, Gatlin was due to run the non-Diamond Race 200m later in the evening, but was a late withdrawal.
It left the way clear for Ogunode to take victory in an Asian record of 19.97 and joining the exclusive club of athletes to have achieved a one-day sub-10 and sub-20 sprint double.
World bronze medallist Jeffery Gibson came through strongly after the final barrier in the men’s 400m hurdles to pass USA’s Bershawn Jackson, winning in 48.72.
Jackson was a close second in 48.76, but the points earned in this race was enough to give him the Diamond Race.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF