When quizzed about whether she had Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s AG Insurance Memorial Van Damme meeting record of 10.72 in mind as she went into her last race of the season, Elaine Thompson said that she just wanted to run fast and professed not to even be aware of what her compatriot had run three years ago.
However, her indifference on Thursday had certainly melted away ahead of the gun going at the IAAF Diamond League final on Friday (9).
The Netherlands’ European champion Dafne Schippers had a good start by her standards and pushed Thompson all the way to 40 metres but then the Jamaican seemed to have several more gears and just flew away from the Dutchwoman over the second half of the race to equal her compatriot’s 2013 time of 10.72 and clock the third-fastest time of her career.
The win also sealed the Diamond Race in the short sprint for Thompson.
“I wanted to run faster however, I felt something in my hamstrings at the very end of the race," said Thompson. "Now, I can finally go back home and celebrate. I keep on smiling because this season was really great."
Schippers was a distant second in 10.97 but need not reproach herself as Thompson was in irresistible form.
Spain’s Olympic 110m hurdles silver medallist Orlando Ortega needed all his competitive will to overhaul Pascal Martinot-Lagarde as the Frenchman ran an outstanding first six hurdles.
Gradually, Ortega began to reel in Martinot-Lagarde and he edged in front of his rival off the ninth hurdle, holding on to his lead before winning in 13.08 – and confirming his status as the Diamond Race winner – while Martinot-Lagarde finished in a season’s best of 13.12.
“It’s been a good year for me, silver at the Olympics and now the Diamond Trophy,” said the Spaniard, who ran a national record of 13.04 earlier in the year. "The only thing I regret is not going under 13 seconds this season."
Tate times her run right
Cassandra Tate picked the right moment to run a season’s best of 54.47 as her win propelled her to the top of the 400m hurdles Diamond Race standings.
Great Britain’s Eilidh Doyle led the Diamond Race by six points ahead of the final and led on Friday night through the first half of the race, getting up on the shoulder of Olympic silver medallist Sara Slott Petersen by the sixth hurdle.
However, Tate ran an inspired second bend and took the lead with two hurdles to go and hold off Petersen’s second surge in the final few metres.
Petersen, the European champion in July, finished second in 54.60 as Doyle faded down the home straight and finished fifth, handing the Diamond Race and US$40,000 cheque to Tate.
Cater Semenya dropped down in distance to the 400m but still impressed, not just with her sheer speed but her timing and tactics.
Stephenie-Ann McPherson just had the edge over Natasha Hastings as the pair entered the home straight but Semenya came from fifth with 50 metres remaining to go past a quartet of more experienced 400m runners to win in a personal best of 50.40.
USA’s Courtney Okolo also came through strongly late in the race and finished second with 50.51, getting the verdict over McPherson who was given the same time but whose third place was good enough to give her the Diamond Race by seven points from Hastings, who finished fifth.
Alonso Edward was assured of getting his third successive 200m Diamond Race as long as he went to his blocks, which was just as well as he finished sixth and was never a factor in Brussels.
At the sharp end, there was a thrilling three-way battle with Jamaica’s Julian Forte just edging out Great Britain’s Adam Gemili – the pair side-by-side in lanes four and five – but both men being given the same time of 19.97, which were also personal bests for the duo.
Despite his personal best, Gemili must be ruing his luck on the big occasion this season as he lost out on the bronze medal in Rio by just 0.003.
The Netherlands’ Churandy Martina was 0.01 behind the leading pair. The Dutchman was only 0.01 away from a medal himself in Rio, despite finishing fifth.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF