A third-round effort of 91.44m earned Germany’s ‘Third Man’, Andreas Hofmann, his first big international javelin prize as he claimed one of the 16 Diamond Trophies on offer in the first of the IAAF Diamond League finals in Zurich on Thursday (30).
In the absence of world champion Johannes Vetter, Germany’s Olympic champion Thomas Rohler, who beat his friend Hofmann to the European title in Berlin earlier this season, was the favourite. But on the night he, like the rest of the field, could not respond to Hofmann’s mighty third-round effort.
That took and retained the lead in a competition that was first headed by India’s newly established Asian Games champion Neeraj Chopra, with 85.73m.
But the Indian thrower eventually finished fourth as Estonia’s Magnus Kirt took second place with 87.57m, and Rohler found enough form to reach 85.76m.
One of the biggest upsets of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League finals occurred in Brussels city centre as Darrell Hill of the United States produced a personal best of 22.44m to beat a field that included Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and world champion Tomas Walsh in the shot put.
Fast forward a year, and Hill was at it again as he established a second-round lead with a season’s best of 22.23m, but this time Walsh wrenched the initiative straight back as he produced a meeting and IAAF Diamond League record of 22.60m.
Crouser was also in 22-metre territory thanks to a first-round effort of 22.11m. Game on.
Hill, for whom IAAF Diamond League finals clearly work very well, pushed on again with a fourth-round effort of 22.40m, a season’s best, but only enough to consolidate his position as Crouser edged upwards with 22.18m in the following round.
That was the way it stayed in a hugely competitive final that saw seven of the eight finalists clearing 21 metres.
Manyonga clinches narrow long jump victory
In the absence of Cuba’s boy wonder Juan Miguel Echevarria, rumoured to be injured, South Africa’s world long jump champion Luvo Manyonga set about defending his IAAF Diamond League title in characteristically flamboyant fashion after staking his claim with a first-round leap of 8.32m.
Manyonga needed to harness all the energy he could, given the second-round effort of 8.30m from compatriot Ruswahl Samaai.
Both men improved, with Samaai adding two centimetres and taking the lead on countback, but Manyonga moved on to 8.36m with the last jump of the competition to ensure victory.
As so often in the past four years, Katerina Stefanidi of Greece found the way to win her pole vault competition.
The Olympic, world and twice European champion won with a first-time clearance of 4.87m, with her only remaining rival, Sandi Morris of the United States, finishing second on countback from authorised neutral athlete Anzhelika Sidorova after both had cleared 4.82m.
Stefanidi had delayed her entry to the competition until 4.67m – not mind games, as she had said the day before, but “Katerina Games”, in order to make sure she conserved her energies for the heights that best animated her.
Morris, after an initial failure at 4.87m herself, passed to 4.92m after Stefanidi had cleared. It was down to the world indoor champion against the world outdoor champion, and the order remained as neither was able to clear.
Double world high jump champion Maria Lasitskene had one of her less arduous victories as she was able to retain her IAAF Diamond League title by clearing 1.97m, which proved beyond the rest of the field.
There was significant news at the start of the women’s high jump as Mirela Demireva, the Bulgarian who took European silver behind Lasitskene in Berlin after also clearing 2.00m, failed to start the competition.
The Italian pair of Alessia Trost and Elena Vallortigara, who gave Lasitskene a run for her money in London as she cleared 2.02m, adding six centimetres to her personal best, also made relatively early exits, failing at 1.90m.
With all but Lasitskene struggling to clear 1.94m, it seemed the double world and European champion was about to win with three jumps, but then world silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko of Ukraine cleared on her third attempt to keep the competition alive as the last two contenders, Germany’s European bronze medallist Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch and Erika Kinsey of Sweden, failed to progress.
Levchenko could go no further, however, and it was then left to Lasitskene, one Diamond Trophy and US$50,000 richer, to decide where she would next like the bar to be set. She chose 2.00m, virtually her mean average height this year – and failed three times.
Given how unhappy she seemed earlier this month to win the European title with ‘only’ 2.00m, observers braced themselves at this point for another expression of frustration, but she maintained her cool, clapping the crowd before departing.
“This victory was very important to me – yet it was not a great result,” said Lasitskene. “My season was like an American slide – great, and kind of easy. Next year I would like to defend my world title.”
Trophy No.5 for Ibarguen
Caterine Ibarguen, Colombia’s Olympic triple jump champion, regained her IAAF Diamond League title – although there was almost another upset to match the one that occurred here in this event last year as she ended up only a centimetre clear of Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts with her best of 14.56m.
Enabled by the decision to make finals winner-takes-all affairs once athletes had earned enough points to qualify, Olga Rypakova, Kazakhstan’s 2012 Olympic champion, last year beat a field including Ibarguen and world champion Yulimar Rojas.
After a first round in which no jumper really hit it right, Ibarguen established her presence with a second-round lead of 14.56m, although Ricketts of Jamaica was only four centimetres off that.
In round five, the Jamaican edged up to 14.55m but she could go no farther, ending up one place ahead of compatriot Kimberly Williams, who reached 14.47m.
On a cool night, Tori Franklin of the United States, whose 14.84m achieved back in May is second on this year’s world list behind Ibarguen’s 14.96m, could only manage 14.17m for fourth place.
Tatiana Khaladovich of Belarus won the women’s javelin with a fifth-round effort of 66.99m that took over the lead from China’s Liu Shiying, who finished second with 66.00m ahead of Kara Winger of the United States, who reached a season’s best of 64.75m.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF