Usain Bolt runs 19.66 in the 200m, Yohan Blake clocks 9.76 in the 100m, while David Rudisha is beaten and Robbie Grabarz takes one of the many Diamond League titles
Wet conditions can often throw up a few surprises in athletics, and tonight’s Weltklasse in Zurich – held on a soaked track from a constant downpour of rain – saw its fair share of shock performances.
World record-holder David Rudisha suffered his first defeat of the season in the 800m, US record-holder Tyson Gay was disqualified for a false start in the 100m, and a British sprint relay team managed to get the baton around safely in the men’s 4x100m.
It all added to the excitement in what was the first of two ‘finals’ in the Samsung Diamond League series. Double points were up for grabs for the winners of each ‘Diamond’ event, meaning that many of the titles were still open and a $40,000 bonus was there for the taking.
The winners of each event in this year’s Diamond League will also be given a wild card entry for next year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow – provided the world champion wild card entry is not from the same country.
There was a case of deja vu in the men’s sprints. One week ago Switzerland played host to the Lausanne Diamond League where Yohan Blake and Usain Bolt set meeting records in the 100m and 200m respectively. Once again the two powerhouses of the sprinting world were both in action but in different races in Zurich, and once again both athletes set meeting records.
Blake was up first in the 100m and at the first time of asking he appeared to react before the gun, but Tyson Gay had also jumped the gun and made the first move, resulting in a disqualification for the former world champion. Blake got off to a good start when the race got underway and he was never challenged, winning in 9.76 (1.4m/s) to take 0.01 from Asafa Powell’s meeting record. Nesta Carter was second (9.95) with Ryan Bailey third (9.97).
Less than half an hour later Bolt was out on track for the 200m. He looked a bit laboured in the first half of the race and it was only in the final 50m that he pulled away from team-mate Nickel Ashmeade, coming away a clear winner in 19.66 to smash the meeting record. Jamaican athletes went one better than the London Olympics as they filled the top four spots with Ashmeade in second (19.85) – good enough to take the overall Diamond League title – as Jason Young and Warren Weir were just outside 20 seconds.
Neither Bolt or Blake appeared in the men’s 4x100m at the end of the evening, which ultimately cost Jamaica the victory as USA won in 38.02 to 38.19. Britain finished within a metre of Jamaica in 38.30 to show that they could have been a medal threat at the London Olympics had they not been disqualified from the heats.
In the men’s high jump Robbie Grabarz needed to finish ahead of world champion Jesse Williams to guarantee the overall crown. The Olympic bronze medallist duly delivered and leaped 2.28m to finish second to Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov (2.31m) as Williams was fourth.
It capped a superb breakthrough season for the Briton who has this year added nine centimetres to his PB, won the European title, finished third at the Olympics, equalled the UK record and won the Diamond League title, having finished in the top three in all of his competitions outdoors.
In his final race of last year, David Rudisha was surprisingly defeated in Milan by Ethiopian teenager Mohamed Aman. A similar scenario played out in tonight’s 800m as the world record-holder was once again upstaged by the 18-year-old.
There had been talk beforehand of a world record, but Rudisha also stated that he hates running in the rain and his disdain was clear as he trailed the pacemaker on the first lap. The field were still in contact with half a lap to go and Aman seized the opportunity, passing the Olympic champion in the home straight. He was rewarded with a 1:42.53 national record – and the overall series victory – as Rudisha finished 0.28 behind. Britain’s Olympic finalist Andrew Osagie was fifth in 1:44.94.
A fall on the penultimate lap of the women’s steeplechase appeared to have cost Milcah Chemos the overall Diamond League title in that event. Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa went on to win the race but was later disqualified for inadvertently cutting a corner. Her victory would have given her the overall crown, but her DQ meant that Chemos – who trailed in ninth – held on to the title. Etenesh Diro was promoted to first in the race with 9:24.97 – a meeting record by default as the event had never before been staged at Zurich.
After two consecutive defeats to arch-rival Carmelita Jeter in the 100m, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce showed exactly why she is the two-time Olympic champion. She finished comfortably ahead of the world champion in 10.83 as Jeter clocked 10.97 with Allyson Felix in third (11.02). The win for Fraser-Pryce was crucial as it gave her the overall Diamond League title ahead of Jeter.
Sanya Richards-Ross, meanwhile, could have only taken the Diamond League crown in the 400m if Botswana’s Amantle Montsho had finished outside the top three. But the world champion’s second-place finish behind Richards Ross (50.21 to 50.33) assured Montsho of the overall title and $40,000 bonus.
American athletes impressed in the hurdles events too. Olympic silver medallist Dawn Harper secured her Diamond League crown in the 100m hurdles, winning in 12.59 to lead a US 1-2-3-4. Two-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor upstaged the more favoured athletes in the 400m hurdles to win in 48.29 as Olympic champion Felix Sanchez was fourth (48.42). Javier Culson finished fifth in 48.56, but he had already done enough to win the Diamond Race.
The only big name missing from the men’s 5000m was double Olympic champion Mo Farah, but in his absence Kenyan teenager proved to have the best kick finish as he won over a quality field in 12:58.98 to land him with the Diamond League crown. Olympic bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa and world silver medallist Bernard Lagat also dipped under 13 minutes.
Ethiopia’s Abeba Aregawi had looked almost unbeatable in Rome and Oslo at the start of the season but hadn’t shown that same form in her past few races. In Zurich though she was back to her dominant best and sprinted away from Mercy Cherono on the final lap to win in 4:05.29 to take the overall title. World silver medallist Hannah England was sixth in 4:07.99.
Several Diamond League series champions were crowned in Zurich tonight, though not all of them won their events. Olympic champion Christian Taylor finished second in the triple jump to Olympic bronze medallist Fabrizio Donato, 17.29m to 17.16m, but the American had done more than enough for the $40,000 bonus.
It was all to play for in the men’s javelin. World leader Vitezslav Vesely led the standings heading into Zurich, but a first-place finish by Olympic silver medallist Oleksandr Pyatnytsya – assuming he finished more than one place ahead of Vesely – would have given the Ukrainian the title. But Pyatnystya finished third with 82.95m, just one place ahead of Vesely as the Czech thrower held on to the overall title. A late charge by Tero Pitkamaki saw the Finn win tonight with a final-round throw of 85.27m, which saw him leap-frog Pyatnytsya in the overall standings but it wasn’t enough to catch Vesely.
Elsewhere, wins by Sandra Perkovic in the discus (63.97m), Renaud Lavillenie in the pole vault (5.70m) and Yelena Sokolova in the long jump (6.92m) guaranteed them overall Diamond League victories in their respective events.
The men’s and women’s shot finals were held on the eve of the Weltklasse with Reese Hoffa (21.64m) and Valerie Adams (20.81m) coming out on top, the latter setting a meeting record. Both throwers also wrapped up series victories.
The Zurich Weltklasse was the first of the two finals in the Samsung Diamond League, with the series coming to an end in Brussels next week. Half of the Diamond League winners have already been decided – each of them scooping $40,000, a Diamond trophy and a potential wild card entry for next year’s World Championships – while the remaining winners will be crowned in the Belgian capital on September 7.
200m: Nickel Ashmeade (JAM)
800m: Mohamed Aman (ETH)
5000m: Isiah Koech (KEN)
3000m steeplechase: Paul Kipsiele Koech (KEN)*
400m hurdles: Javier Culson (PUR)
High jump: Robbie Grabarz (GBR)
Pole vault: Renaud Lavillenie (FRA)
Triple jump: Christian Taylor (USA)
Shot: Reese Hoffa (USA)
Javelin: Vitezslav Vesely (CZE)
100m: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM)
400m: Amantle Montsho (BOT)
1500m: Abeba Aregawi (ETH)
3000m steeplechase: Milcah Chemos (KEN)
400m hurdles: Kaliese Spencer (JAM)*
100m hurdles: Dawn Harper (USA)
High jump: Chaunte Lowe (USA)*
Long jump: Yelena Sokolova (RUS)
Shot: Valerie Adams (NZL)*
Discus: Sandra Perkovic (CRO)
Javelin: Barbora Spotakova (CZE)*
* The Diamond League series finals of these events will be contested in Brussels next week, but the current leader has already done enough to guarantee the overall title.