Fifth in the 3,000 m steeplechase at the Doha Worlds in 2019, Djilali Bedrani has been a big player in the discipline for the past two years. And though he’ll have to wait a little longer before he can secure his first Diamond League victory, the middle-distance runner from SA Toulouse UC managed to hunt down an encouraging third place in the north-east of England. The event quickly turned into a tactical battle in temperatures barely scraping ten degrees, in the rain. A few metres off the pace as the race switched up a gear, with one lap to go, Djilali Bedrani finished rather well to cross the line in third position in a time of 8’32’’04, behind American Hillary Bor (8’30’’20) and Kenyan Leonard Kipkemoi Bett (8’31’’52).
Gressier gives his all
The competitors in the men’s 5,000 m got into the swing of things much more quickly, notably spurred on by the Spaniard Mohamed Katir, victor in a time of 13’08’’52, smashing his personal best. Jimmy Gressier (Boulogne-sur-Mer AC) had high hopes of making the cut here with World Athletics (13’13’’50) for the Tokyo Games, however the athlete from northern France ended up chasing the lead duo made up of Katir and Kenyan Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli (2nd in 13’10’’11), and the rest of the peloton. Determined as ever, the multiple Continental medal hope gave his all but cracked on the last lap to ultimately rank eighth in 13’25’’36.
The other French athletes in the competition were unable to show what they were made of on the day. Laura Valette (Nantes Métropole Athlétisme) ranked eighth in the 100 m hurdles in 13’’59 (-3.9m/s), some distance off the top spot secured by Briton Cindy Sember in 13’’28, whilst Valentin Lavillenie (Clermont Athlétisme Auvergne), broke a pole and didn’t manage to clear a single bar. In what proved to be a risky competition, given the weather conditions, one of the night’s big surprises was the second place that went to Armand Duplantis, who had to make do with a top jump of 5.55 m, with victory ultimately awarded to the double world champion Sam Kendricks with 5.74 m. The Swedish world record holder, who we witnessed holding an umbrella over the head of the American before his run-up, failed to flesh out his consecutive win tally to twenty-four.
Asher-Smith, the queen of England
Unfavourable gusts of wind and thighs frozen stiff: the climate certainly didn’t spare the sprinters. Within this context, the times are trivial, but the same cannot be said of the rankings. On home soil, the Briton Dina Asher-Smith took the win in the 100 m in 11’’35 (-3.1m/s) ahead of the new US sensation Sha’Carri Richardson (11’’44), the French Stadium’s Marie-Josée Ta Lou from the Côte D’Ivoire snatching third place in 11’’48, three hundredths of a second ahead of Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
Other stand-out performances include: the 3’36’’27 posted by Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen and the 4’03’’73 racked up by Briton Laura Muir, who were a cut above the rest in the 1,500 m, the 20’’33 (-3m/s) by American athlete Kenneth Bednarek in the 200 m, the 8.11 m (+2.8m/s) secured by Italian Filippo Randazzo in the long jump, the 14.40 m cleared by Jamaican Shanieka Ricketts in the triple jump, as well as the 19.08 m thrown by Portuguese athlete Auriol Dongmo in the shot put.