World leads by Sandra Perkovic, Mutaz Barshim and Pedro Pablo Pichardo were among the highlights at the 2018 IAAF Diamond League series opener in Doha on Friday (4), an evening which witnessed three men throw beyond 90 metres in the javelin.
Barshim, the Emirate’s biggest sporting star, lived up to that stature on his home track, dominating the high jump with his second straight Doha Diamond League victory, falling just shy of claiming the meeting record.
Producing a clear slate through 2.30m, he needed a second try to top 2.33m before towering over 2.36m to seal the victory. First attempt success at 2.40m came next, but at that point, with eight jumps in the bag, fatigue began to creep in. None of his three tries at a would-be 2.41m meeting record were especially close, but he was nonetheless pleased with such early season success at a height which only a dozen other men have ever topped.
“I made some mistakes, but am very happy with the result and proud,” he said. “I was not fit to succeed in all the jumps, but still extremely happy at the end."
At yesterday’s pre-meet press conference, Barshim declared that from now on, he’d take home the cross bar from every competition where he’d break the meeting record. Missing at 2.42m didn’t keep him from walking off with the one he was battling with today.
Majd Eddin Ghazal of Syria topped a 2.33m season’s best for second with former world champion Donald Thomas of Bahamas third at 2.30m.
Perkovic beyond 71m again
It was Sandra Perkovic, the reigning world and Olympic discus throw champion, who got the evening off with a bang after she launched her disc 71.38m into Doha’s evening sky, a massive effort that landed just three centimetres shy of her personal best set last year.
“This is great,” said the Croatian, who arrived as the world leader at 69.13m, a throw in early March. “To throw just three centimetres from my national record in my opening meet shows that I’m in great shape. With the season just beginning, this has set me up well for the year.”
That throw, which broke her own meeting and Diamond League records, emptied the wind from her sails. Another two efforts landed just under 67 metres, but those clearly mattered little in the final analysis. Yaime Perez of Cuba was a distant second with 66.82m. Her compatriot Denia Caballero was third with 63.80m
Rohler defends ‘his’ turf as three throw beyond 90m
The men’s javelin throw was another classic battle between Olympic champion Thomas Rohler, the winner here last year, and his German compatriot Johannes Vetter, the world champion and this year’s world leader.
Vetter struck first, setting the tone with a 91.56m bomb in the first round. Rohler, who opened with a subpar 80.64m, answered the call in the second round, taking the lead with a 91.78m toss, the second farthest throw of his career. Vetter came close in round two with 89.74m, but that would be closest he’d come.
But they did get a scare in round three when a third German, Andreas Hofmann, reached 90.08m, marking the first time three men threw beyond 90 metres in the same competition. That’s a throw that would win most competitions. On this night, it merely rounded out a German podium sweep.
“Today was great, but it wasn't easy,” Rohler said of his season’s debut. “I've been preparing well and knew I could throw that far. I was even able to take some risks today, and know that I'm in good physical shape.
Pichardo over Taylor
The men’s triple jump was a near repeat of world and Olympic champion Christian Taylor’s classic duel with Pedro Pablo Pichardo. Neither sailed 18 metres this time around, but Pichardo was close, sailing 17.95m in the third round to effectively seal the win.
Taylor wasn’t able to respond as he did in 2015, but did manage a 17.81m season’s best, also in the third round. His second best, a leap of 17.69m, came, in classic Taylor style, in the final round.
"I'm very surprised by the result, but I will take it as a chance to learn from the experience," Taylor said.
Alexis Copello of Azerbaijan was a distant third with 17.21m.
Sandi Morris took the season’s first major women’s pole vault summit meeting with a third round clearance at 4.84m, adding one centimetre to her meeting record set two years ago.
The next five finishers topped 4.64m, with Holly Bradshaw taking second over Katie Nageotte on countback.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF