In the last event of a chilly Thursday evening at Stockholm’s 1912 Olympic stadium, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce offered further convincing evidence of how hard it will be for anyone to deprive her of her world 100m title next month, or indeed this year’s 100m Diamond Race, in which she now has a four-point lead as she proceeds towards the final in Zurich on 3 September.
However, her world 200m title could be up for grabs, again.
Having said before this meeting that her coach Steven Francis had ruled it back into the plans for Beijing, she announced after this race at the last IAAF Diamond League meeting before the IAAF World Championships: “I’m not running the 200m. I’m telling my coach he has to change his mind. The 200m is too far so I’m set for the 100m!”
On Thursday night, the two-time Olympic 100m champion, who heads this year’s world lists with her 10.74 win in Paris earlier this month, got a good start and was never seriously challenged as she held her form to pass the line in a time of 10.93, that was impressive given the unpromising conditions.
USA’s Tori Bowie was the closest to her in 11.05.
In contrast to Fraser-Pryce, Mutaz Essa Barshim is still struggling to find his best form, although he feels he is getting there despite a fourth consecutive IAAF Diamond League defeat.
Qatar’s world indoor high jump champion, who became the second best ever with a clearance of 2.43m last season and sailed over 2.41m in Eugene earlier this season, only managed 2.29m here as he lost to US jumper JaCorian Duffield, whose personal best is 2.34m, and who went close to the limits of his ability on a chilly evening to win with a third-time clearance at 2.32m.
Barshim, who had prepared for this meeting by training in Malmo with his Swedish-based coach, Stan Szczyrba, looked as if he had sorted out some of his problems as he produced first-time clearances at 2.20m, 2.25m and 2.29m.
The latter height proved too much for the Italian who had beaten him in London six days earlier, Marco Fassinotti, although another Italian, Gianmarco Tamberi, took up the challenge with a first-time clearance.
However Tamberi, who finished third, USA’s Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard and, ultimately, Barshim all failed the 2.32m test to leave the 22-year-old from Kansas as the latest in a sequence of unexpected IAAF Diamond League high jump winners this season.
Barshim, though, was inclined to look on the bright side afterwards: “I’m really happy, better than last week. There were a couple of jumps that were really good, pretty close to the win. It’s two points so they are really important for me. I’m still leading the Diamond Race. Now my focus is on my main goal of winning at the World Championships, but I need to improve technically.”
Rutherford out of reach
Greg Rutherford, Great Britain’s Olympic long jump champion, had a convincing victory over a field which included home hope Michel Torneus, the European indoor champion.
Rutherford produced three jumps beyond the reach of any of his competitors – 8.34m, 8.32m and 8.13m – before calling it a day with two rounds remaining.
By then Torneus, who has struggled with a hamstring injury, had also retired and eventually finished fourth with 7.83m.
US champion Marquis Dendy, who beat Rutherford in London last weekend, was second this time with 8.09m, and South Africa’s 2008 Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena finished third with 7.87m.
“The Diamond League competitions have been very important to me this year and I’m pleased with my third win," said Rutherford. "It’s fantastic to jump back-to-back 8.30s in far-from-ideal conditions."
Rutherford said he now is focused on becoming only the fifth British athlete to hold Olympic, European, Commonwealth and world titles as he seeks the last of those in Beijing.
By way of preparation, he is returning home to practice in the long jump pit his father and neighbours have helped to construct in his back garden.
Ayanleh Souleiman had promised a fast 1500m here, saying he was looking for 3:28 or 3:27. The Djiboutian athlete earned a dominating victory, finishing 10 metres clear, but at the tail end of an evening far from ideal for fast times, he had to settle for the clock reading 3:33.33.
Second place went to a jubilant Jakub Holusa in a Czech record of 3:34.26, with Turkey’s Ilham Ozbilen taking third place in 3:34.40.
A front-running 400m attempt by Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald backfired in the final 20 metres as five men came past him, the fastest of whom was world junior champion Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago, who clocked 44.97.
Second place went to the Dominican Republic’s 21-year-old Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos in 45.21, with Britain’s European champion Martyn Rooney third in 45.41.
The men’s 3000m steeplechase produced a literally staggering finish as Hicham Sigueni produced a lean more usually observed in the 110m hurdles to edge past his Moroccan colleague Brahim Taleb on the line, clocking a personal best of 8:16.54 to Taleb’s 8:16.56.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF