Valerie Adams became the first person to win a Diamond Race in 2013 when she dominated the competition at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich, with her discipline held a day before the main meeting in a spectacular showcase for the Shot Put at the Swiss city’s main railway station on Wednesday (28).
The New Zealander, very much a local celebrity in Switzerland as she is based for much of the year in nearby Biel, set an Oceania indoor record and meeting record of 20.98m, in both cases bettering the record of 20.81m that Adams herself had set in Zurich last year.
Into the bargain, it was also the best distance in the world this year for the four-time IAAF World Championships gold medallist.
Adams, throwing last at the end of the first round and entering the circle to the sounds of yodelling, ended the competition with her very first effort when she sent out her implement out to 20.97m.
One round later she produced her winning effort by adding one more centimetre to her performance.
She didn’t improve any further and fouled in the third round but still produced a terrific final three efforts of 20.66m, 20.76m and 20.42m. All five of her valid efforts were farther than anyone else in the world has reached this year.
“It was a great atmosphere in a great venue and it helped me produce my best series of the year. I was in shape to do this because I’ve worked very hard,” reflected Adams, who won the Diamond Race and its US$40,000 first prize for the third consecutive year.
“The yodelling music was my idea. When I first heard it, I said ‘WHAT’, but then it grows on you and it’s got a sort of dance rhythm. Now I’ve got one more competition in Berlin on Sunday and then it’s holiday, yeah!” added Adams.
Adams won by more than a metre, but the two women immediately behind her had competitions they can look back on with a smile.
London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Yevgeniya Kolodko disappointingly missed out on a medal in front of her family and friends at the recent World Championships in Moscow, when she could only finish fifth, but the Russian put up a much better show in Zurich and launched the shot out to 19.97m in the fifth round, her best competition of the year and an indoor best.
Michelle Carter held second spot for four rounds, starting with 19.34m, improving to 19.86m with her next attempt, then backed that up with 19.85m in the fourth round. After having seen herself edged out of second place by Kolodko, the Californian gave it everything in the final round and also came up with an indoor best of 19.88m, just one centimetre shy of Jill Camarena-Williams’ US indoor record set last year.
Ryan Whiting stamped his authority on the men’s competition almost as emphatically as Adams had on the women’s event, winning by 84cm.
After being the prohibitive favourite going to Moscow but only ending up with the silver medal, Whiting bounced back here with aplomb.
Leading after the first round with 20.77m, he reeled off a series that then read: 21:57m, 21.99m, 22.03m, 21.00m and 21.91m. His third, fourth and sixth round efforts were better than anyone else has managed this year, while his 22.03m was and an indoor best for the US champion.
Whiting now has an unassailable lead in his event's Diamond Race ahead of the final event in Brussels on 6 September.
Germany’s two-time World champion David Storl reached 21.19m with his third-round effort and then had three fouls as he tried in vain for a personal best that would have edged him closer to Whiting.
Even though Whiting was the winner by a big margin, the overall quality can be seen by the fact that Canada’s Dylan Armstrong, who finished behind Storl and Whiting in Moscow, also finished third on this occasion with his fourth-round 21.19m while fourth was Czech Republic’s Ladislav Prasil with 21.10m.
Sadly, this will be the last year for a while in which the Shot Put will be held in such a unique venue.
The Zurich organisers are also heavily involved with the 2014 European Championships in the same city and manpower commitments mean that it would be difficult to organise a separate competition.
Zurich organisers have promised that athletics will return to the station in 2015, “but it will not be a Shot Put, most likely a jump we will have to look at the situation with the space,” said the Weltklasse marketing director Christoph Joho, who will take over as the Zurich joint meeting director in 2015.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF