Even without the spectacular Norwegian Karsten Warholm, the men’s 400 m hurdles had style, Kevin Young’s world record (46''78) under threat during pretty much every race. On this occasion, by way of an opener to Friday’s Doha meeting, the second leg of the Diamond League, Rai Benjamin remained some way shy of the legendary time and yet the American still treated himself to victory and a top-flight 47''38, despite a mistake at an obstacle on the second bend.
In this increasingly hotly contested sport, Brazilian Alison Dos Santos is continuing to raise his game with a new South American record in a time of 47''57. Meantime, Kyron McMaster, representing the British Virgin Islands ranked just third despite an excellent 47''82, while the return to the competition of Qatari Abderrahman Samba, finally recovered from his injuries and fourth in 48''26, means that the rest of the summer is shaping up to be a thrilling spectacle over this distance.
Rojas over 15 m again
Like Benjamin, the favourites maintained rank in Qatar. Though the world triple jump record is still standing (15.50 m by Kravets in 1995), Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas cleared another jump in excess of 15 m, six days on from her 15.43 m in Andujar (Spain). Despite considerable room for improvement with the marks, she posted a jump of 15.15 m (+2m/s) on her first attempt and 15.11 m (+0.8m/s) on her second, although a shake of the head reflected her frustration. Jamaican Shanieka Ricketts was also within a hair’s breadth of clearing the symbolic 15 m bar thanks to a personal best of 14.98 m.
Fraser-Pryce yet to have her final say
In the women’s straight line sprint, the athletes managed to benefit from the favourable conditions to run considerably faster than they did the previous Sunday in Gateshead. Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce proved that she’s still a force to be reckoned with in this Olympic year by blasting out of the starting blocks and being first to cross the finish line in a time of 10''84 (+1.1m/s), six hundredths of a second ahead of Nigerian Blessing Okagbare. Also of note was the fourth place for the Stade Français Paris’ Marie-Josée Ta Lou from the Côte D’Ivoire in 11''12.
As for the men’s sprint, this was dominated by the Americans. Kenneth Bednarek, the strongman of this early season, managed to fend off a comeback by Andre De Grasse in the 200 m to take the win in 19''88, a hundredth of a second ahead of the Canadian. The lap of the track also played out as expected with victory going to Michael Norman in 44''27.
The Kenyans rule
As is usually the case in Doha, the middle-distance running disciplines gave rise to some awesome times, complete with the expected Kenyan hegemony embodied by Timothy Cheruiyot in the 1,500 m (3'30''48), Faith Kipyegon (1'58''26 with a negative split) and Wyclife Kinyamal (1'43''91) in the 800 m, Beatrice Chebet in the 3,000 m (8'27''49) as well as Norah Jeruto in the 3,000 m steeplechase (9'00''67).
In the field competition, in addition to the women’s triple jump, some especially noteworthy performances were posted by American Katie Nageotte with 4.84 m in the pole vault in a count back over compatriot Sandi Morris, and the 2.33 m by the Russian competing in the high jump under a neutral flag, Ilya Ivanyuk (2.30 m for Barshim). The rule implemented by World Athletics in the Diamond League, namely a final attempt where the scores are reset, did not enable those athletes with the best throws to secure the win. As such, the first places were awarded to New Zealand thrower Tomas Walsh in the men’s shot-put with 21.63 m (21.88 for Serbian Armin Sinancevic), and Cuban Yaime Perez in the women’s discus with 63.75 m (65.57 m for American Valarie Allman).
View the full replay of the meeting by clicking here