Usain Bolt dips under 9.8 again with a victory over Asafa Powell, while Jessica Ennis and Mark Lewis-Francis are both disqualified for false-starting
In case anyone needed reminding, Usain Bolt is in good form ahead of his Olympic title defence.
The multiple world record-holder proved it again tonight at the Exxon Mobil Bislett Games in Oslo – the fifth leg of the Samsung Diamond League – by beating his Jamaican team-mate Asafa Powell in the 100m.
The pair met last weekend in Rome, where Bolt came out on top with a world-leading 9.76 into a headwind, while Powell complained about not being ready at the start.
This time, however, the former world record-holder had no excuses and was actually leading at half way. But, teeth gritted, Bolt pulled through at the end to snatch victory with a meeting record of 9.79.
Powell clocked a season’s best of 9.85 in second place – also dipping inside Ato Boldon’s meeting record from 2001 – while Commonwealth champion Lerone Clarke completed the Jamaican 1-2-3 with 10.10 in third.
But at the first time of asking, Britain’s Mark Lewis-Francis set off way before the gun and was disqualified for false-starting.
The European silver medallist wasn’t the only British athlete to suffer that misfortune. European heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis did likewise in the women’s 100m hurdles final, having impressed in the heats with a 12.84 clocking to finish within a quarter of a second behind world champion Sally Pearson (12.59).
Ennis was gutted, as it would have been a great opportunity in which to break her PB, and all of the athletes from her heat ran significantly quicker in the final.
Nevertheless, Pearson won the final, equalling her own world-leading time of 12.49. USA’s Kristi Castlin set a PB of 12.56 in second as British record-holder Tiffany Porter finished third (12.70).
There was another world-leading mark set in a hurdles event earlier in the night. Having withdrawn from the Rome Diamond League last week, world champion Dai Greene was back on track in Oslo. But his lack of fitness was evident as he finished fourth, almost a second behind Javier Culson.
The two-time world silver medallist from Puerto Rico stopped the clock in 47.92 to win comfortably from Jehue Gordon (48.78) and Justin Gaymon (48.97). Greene was fourth in 48.98, just outside his season’s best, while European under-23 champion Jack Green clipped several hurdles with his knee and finished sixth (49.70).
One of the highest-quality events of the night was the women’s steeplechase, where – for the first time ever outside a major championships – three women dipped under 9:10. Kenya’s Milcah Chemos opened up a gap on her pursuers on the final lap, kicking away to win with an African record of 9:07.14.
Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa smashed her own national record in second with 9:09.00, followed closely by team-mate Hiwot Ayalew. In ninth, Eilish McColgan smashed her own UK under-23 best and Scottish senior record with 9:38.45.
Three Ethiopian men broke 13 minutes in the 5000m, although none of them go by the surname ‘Bekele’. The early pace was all over the place, but the field settled down once the pacemakers dropped out. World bronze medallist Dejene Gebremeskel led at the bell, but was surrounded by several of his team-mates.
18-year-old Hagos Gebrhiwet, winner of the 5000m at the Shanghai Diamond League, gave chase to the leader, but Gebremeskel held on for victory in 12:58.92, just 0.07 ahead of his younger compatriot. Imane Merga, overall Diamond League winner for the past two years, also dipped under 13 minutes in third (12:59.77).
World record-holder Kenenisa Bekele was once again competitive but adrift of the winners. More significantly, for the first time ever he was defeated by his younger brother Tariku as they finished fourth and fifth, 13:00.41 to 13:00.54.
The Dream Mile was packed full of the top African middle-distance talent, but – as was the case in Eugene last week – world champion Asbel Kiprop came out on top. But just like the men’s 5000m earlier in the night, the pacing was uneven and ruined any chances of a truly fast time.
Nevertheless, the depth was superb as for just the second time in history eight men dipped under 3:51. Kiprop won in 3:49.22, as Caleb Ndiku just about held off Mekonnen Gebremedhin, 3:50.00 to 3:50.02.
It has been eight years since Abi Oyepitan made the Olympic 200m final in Athens. Most of the time since then, Oyepitan has battled injury and on numerous occasions has considered hanging up her spikes, but the 32-year-old looks to have recaptured her best form from 2004.
Tonight in Oslo she finished second in the 200m to Murielle Ahoure, the Ivory Coast athlete who has been one of the breakthrough sprinters of the year. Ahoure smashed her own national record with 22.42, while Oyepitan clocked 22.71 – her fastest wind-legal time since 2004 and her fourth-fastest time ever. Finishing behind her were Olympic silver medallist Kerron Stewart (sixth, 23.19) and Sherone Simpson (seventh, 23.32).
One week after making a huge breakthrough in Rome with an Ethiopian record, Abeba Aregawi once again defeated team-mate Genzebe Dibaba in the women’s 1500m. The pace in Oslo wasn’t as fast as it was in the Italian capital, but Aregawi showed that she is capable of winning off a slower pace too, kicking away to win in 4:02.42.
Dibaba, the world indoor champion, was almost a second behind in 4:03.28, while Commonwealth bronze medallist Steph Twell ran a season’s best of 4:07.49 in ninth, a second-and-a-half outside the Olympic ‘A’ standard.
World champion Amantle Montsho was a class apart in the women’s 400m. The Botswanan athlete won by more than a second in 49.68 – the third-fastest time of her career. Jamaica’s Patricia Hall set a big PB in second with 50.71, while former world silver medallist Nicola Sanders was disappointed with her 52.79 in eighth place.
The home crowd in Oslo may have been willing two-time Olympic javelin champion Andreas Thorkildsen to a victory, but even the support of the thousands of fans in the Norwegian capital was not enough to help him win. Instead, Czech thrower Vitezslav Vesely smashed his PB to win with a world-leading 88.11m. Turkey’s Fatih Avan edged out Thorkildsen, 83.82m to 82.30m. World champion Matthias de Zordo was also disappointing, throwing just 81.44m in fifth.
In a competitive but generally disappointing triple jump, Russia’s Lyukman Adams defeated world champion Christian Taylor, 17.09m to 17.06m. European under-23 champion Sheryf El-Sheryf, who last year exploded on to the scene with 17.72m, broke 17 metres for just the second time in his career with 17.03m in third.
European champion Sandra Perkovic continued her good form in the discus, winning by more than a metre with 64.89m. World silver medallist Nadine Muller was second (63.60m), just three centimetres ahead of Olympic silver medallist Yarelis Barrios.
Elsewhere, Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault by a margin of 20 centimetres with a clearance of 5.82m. Norway’s Ezinne Okparaebo pleased the home crowd with a victory in the women’s 100m, running 11.31 into a -1.2m/s headwind. World indoor champion Chaunte Lowe took the women’s high jump with a leap of 1.97m, beating Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut (1.93m).
Russia’s Olga Kucherenko won the long jump with a wind-assisted 6.96m from team-mate Yelena Sokolova (6.86m). Britain’s Shara Proctor was fifth with 6.51m. Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski defeated the top two from the World Championships last year, throwing 21.36m to win the shot from Dylan Armstrong (20.82m) and David Storl (20.69m).
Earlier in the night in the ‘national’ races, Britain’s Nigel Levine smashed his outdoor 400m PB that dated back to 2009, winning in 45.11. Comonwealth finalist Gareth Warburton won the 800m, smashing his PB by almost one and a half seconds and breaking the Welsh record with 1:44.98. Both Levine and Warburton were well inside the Olympic ‘A’ standards.