Asha Philip, Ashleigh Nelson, Anyika Onuora and Desiree Henry combine to better 11 day old mark at Diamond League meeting as 16 Diamond Race winners are crowned in Zurich
Fresh from running a national record at Zurich’s Letzigrund Stadium less than two weeks before, a British women’s 4x100m quartet returned to the Swiss city on Thursday evening to continue those record-breaking ways.
Up against nations including Jamaica and USA, Asha Philip, Ashleigh Nelson, Anyika Onuora and Desiree Henry combined to clock 42.21 to break the meeting record and also better the 42.24 run by Philip, Nelson and Henry together with Jodie Williams when claiming European gold just 11 days before.
“It’s amazing!” Nelson told the BBC. “We came out tonight, we just wanted to run well again. The crowd was amazing, the girls are amazing. Amazing!”
Henry, who anchored both British teams to victory, added: “I just looked to my left and right and thought ‘oh my God, these are the quickest girls in the world’ but you know what, I consider myself one of them and I knew that these girls would do a fantastic job to put me in a good position. I’m so glad that we were able to get the baton around smoothly.”
Behind them the Jamaican quartet clocked 42.33 for the runner-up spot ahead of USA with 42.48.
Conditions had been good for the penultimate Diamond League meeting of the season – the first of two finals, with Brussels to come on September 5. Stakes were high with double points available in the Diamond Race – eight points for each winner of a Diamond Race event, four points to the athlete placing second and two points to the athlete placing third.
A total of 16 Diamond Race winners were crowned, with Sandra Perkovic and LaShawn Merritt already having had their victories secured in the discus and 400m respectively ahead of the final.
Perkovic secured the Diamond Race in style, saving her best until last with 68.36m in the last round to win by just over a metre from Gia Lewis-Smallwood. Merritt was another to wrap up his Diamond Race victory with one final win, the world champion dominating to cross the line in 44.36, six hundredths clear of fellow American Gil Roberts. Botswana’s Isaac Makwala ran 45.03 for third, one place ahead of Britain’s European champion Martyn Rooney with 45.10.
Nijel Amos saw off his rivals in a stacked 800m, the Commonwealth champion and this year’s world No.1 beating world indoor 1500m champion Ayanleh Souleiman to the line – 1:43.77 to 1:43.93 – to also secure victory in the overall Diamond Race. Having been sat at the back, world record-holder David Rudisha – who had a late start to his season due to injury – left it too late to make a move and his final surge was only enough for third in 1:43.96 as European champion Adam Kszczot was seventh in 1:44.84, one place ahead of world champ Mohammed Aman with 1:45.01. World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop crossed the line in 1:45.26 for 11th.
Caleb Ndiku won the 5000m and the Diamond Race too with a strong finish, clocking 13:07.01, as current world No.1 Muktar Edris finished second in 13:07.32 ahead of Olympic 10,000m silver medallist Galen Rupp with 13:07.82. Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew had gone into the race with 14 points but a 12th-place finish meant he was well out of the running for the series win.
There was an exciting finish in the women’s 1500m as Jenny Simpson, fresh from victory in Stockholm, stayed strong in the closing stages to just pip her fellow American Shannon Rowbury, both athletes diving over the line to clock 3:59.92 and 3:59.93 respectively. Viola Kibiwot finished third in 4:00.46, one place ahead of world leader and European champion Sifan Hassan with 4:00.72. Simpson also secured the Diamond Race with 17 points as world champion Abeba Aregawi – second on 12 points – couldn’t do enough in the final race and had to settle for 4:03.40 for eighth.
The women’s 100m hurdles Diamond Race winner was decided in dramatic fashion as Queen Harrison and Dawn Harper-Nelson went head-to-head for the honour but while Harrison crashed out, hitting the track hard, Harper-Nelson held on to get the win in 12.58 ahead of Olympic champ Sally Pearson with 12.71 and Britain’s European champion Tiffany Porter with 12.72.
There was a photo finish in the women’s 100m as just two hundredths of a second separated the top three – Veronica Campbell-Brown getting the win and victory in the Diamond Race as she recorded the same time as Murielle Ahouré in second. Blessing Okagbare was third over the line with 11.06 as Dutch heptathlete Dafne Schippers – fresh from doing the European sprint double in Zurich a couple of weeks before – ran 11.10 for fourth. Britain’s European bronze medallist Nelson – part of the relay team that broke the 34-year-old British 4x100m record in Zurich on August 17 and also the one that bettered that mark on Thursday – clocked 11.20 in sixth.
Over in the men’s 200m and Panama’s Alonso Edward just pipped Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade to race victory and the overall Diamond Race win too, clocking 19.95 to the Jamaican’s 20.01. Britain’s James Ellington ran 21.00 for eighth.
Kariem Hussein gave the crowds reason to cheer in the first Diamond League race of the evening – the 400m hurdles – as the Swiss European champion led coming off the bend and although he faded slightly as Commonwealth champ Cornel Fredericks claimed victory in a 48.25 season’s best Hussein clocked a 48.70 personal best in fourth. World and Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinsley was second in a close finish, doing enough to take the Diamond Race.
Tunisia’s Olympic silver medallist Habiba Ghribi came through at the bell to storm ahead of long-time leader Emma Coburn and take 3000m steeplechase victory in a 9:15.23 meeting record from Hiwot Ayalew whose 9:19.29 for second secured her the Diamond Race. Sofia Assefa was third in 9:19.79. With 9:20.55 Ruth Jebet was just off the world junior steeplechase record but the Asian record did fall, while Coburn clocked 9:23.89 for fifth.
Although Ivana Spanovic – Euro silver medallist in Zurich two weeks before – was victorious with a best of 6.80m in the long jump, 2005 world champ Tianna Bartoletta did just enough to secure the overall Diamond Race with 6.76m to finish second on the night. Another series victory decided early on was in the men’s shot as 2007 world champ Reese Hoffa threw a 21.88m, his best also coming in the last round, to beat world and European champion David Storl with 21.47m.
Germany’s Thomas Röhler enjoyed the performance of his life as he threw a 87.63m PB to win the Diamond Race, with a Trinidad and Tobago record 85.77m by Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott not enough to beat him. Christian Taylor saw off fellow American Will Claye and France’s Benjamin Compaoré to take the triple jump crown with his 17.51m season’s best.
Fabiana Murer won the pole vault with a 4.72m clearance to wrap up the overall title, while a 2.00m clearance to equal her PB secured world indoor champ Mariya Kuchina the honours in the high jump as Britain’s Isobel Pooley – who recently managed a 1.96m national outdoor record – cleared 1.89m for joint sixth.
Fresh from their multiple victories at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea, Swiss wheelchair racers Marcel Hug and Manuela Schär continued their winning ways – Hug winning over 3000m with 6:14.74 and Schär taking the 2600m in 6:19.77 from Britain’s Jade Jones with 6:33.46.
Like the relay and the wheelchair races, the men’s 100m was not a Diamond League race, though the field was still loaded, despite the absence of Usain Bolt who had decided to withdraw and end his season early. With 9.96 Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Kemar Bailey-Cole stormed to victory ahead of Michael Rodgers with 10.05 as James Dasaolu was best of the Brits, running 10.06 for third to beat Asafa Powell. Adam Gemili was fifth with 10.13 while Harry Aikines-Aryeetey ran 10.31 for eighth, one place ahead of Tyson Gay who clocked 10.35. In the earlier ‘B’ 100m, Britain’s Chijindu Ujah pipped Churandy Martina – 10.16 to 10.18.
» Full results can be found here