Britain’s Eilidh Doyle won against a strong 400m hurdles field, while Tori Bowie got one over on Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers in the 100m
Eilidh Doyle produced her fastest ever season opener in the 400m hurdles to take the win in a high quality field at the Doha Diamond League.
Doyle’s 54.53 winning time comfortably bettered her 55.43 from Doha back in 2014, beating the likes of reigning Commonwealth champion Kaliese Spencer and last year’s World Championships bronze medallist Cassandra Tate.
The European champion, previously known as Eilidh Child, was second through the first half of the race behind a fast-starting Wenda Theron Nel, but the Scot stayed composed round the top bend to take a clear three-metre lead into the home straight, and held her form to finish ahead of Kemi Adekoya in second.
Doyle said: “I am very happy with my race. My training worked really well, although I was a bit slow in the start.”
Doyle’s fellow Brit Meghan Beesley finished in sixth with a time of 55.72.
US sprinter Tori Bowie got the better of Dafne Schippers over the 100m, producing a personal best and world-leading time of 10.80.
Schippers won silver in Beijing last year while Bowie was third but the Dutch sprinter finished back in 10.83 while triple Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown was back in third with 10.91.
The 25-year-old American said: “I gave the race in Doha my everything and the win was mine. This being an Olympic year, I am eagerly looking at the outdoor season. I feel I am a much better runner now than I was last season.”
A stacked field in the men’s 110m hurdles saw last year’s fastest man Omar McLeod come out on top with 13.05.
The Jamaican, who recently became the first in history to run sub-10 and sub-13 for the 100m flat and the 110m hurdles, clattered into the penultimate barrier but his superior speed told throughout the race as he finished ahead of Hansle Parchment (13.10) and Spaniard Orlando Ortega (13.12), while world record-holder Aries Merritt (13.37) continued his comeback from a kidney transplant.
McLeod clocked 12.97 in 2015, and said after his win in Doha: “It wasn’t the perfect race and I hit a lot of hurdles on the way, but I’m so happy I could win. I’m healthy and I’m going to the Rio Olympic Games with the aim of winning gold.”
Triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen extended her phenomenal unbeaten streak to 32 competitions in a closely-fought contest with world indoor champion Yulimar Rojas.
In a to-and-fro contest between the indoor and outdoor world champions which saw the competition’s leading mark increase from 14.61m to 14.79m in the space of three early jumps between the pair, Ibarguen sailed out to 15.04m – the second best effort of her career – and maintained her outstanding winning run.
Caster Semenya continued her strong start to the Olympic year with a 1:58.26 800m win, gliding past Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia in the home straight to register a world-leading time.
The South African, who was at the centre of much controversy in 2009 when it was revealed she was to be subjected to gender testing prior to the World Championships final, looks to be back in top form and ran well within herself for 700m before cruising away in the home straight.
Britain’s World Championships finalist, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, opened her outdoor season with a fifth-placed finish in 2:01.04, as did Adelle Tracey with 2:02.30 in eighth.
Asbel Kiprop was the only athlete brave enough to go with the pacemakers at 3:30 pace in the 1500m and coasted to a time of 3:32.15 having opened up a 20-metre lead into the final lap.
Eight-time world champion LaShawn Merritt opened his Diamond League campaign with a 44.41 to win over the 400m, while American Ameer Webb ran a world leading 19.85 in the 200m.
World and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor took the win with an effort of 17.23m in the final round, but was way down on the 18-metre form of 12 months ago as he struggled with his run-up.
Robbie Grabarz finished fourth in the high jump, only managing to clear 2.29m as American Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard jumped 2.33m to take the win.
Almaz Ayana produced one of the best runs of the day in the 3000m, winning in a time of 8:23.12 clear of a field including Britain’s Eilish McColgan, whose 8:43.27 for 10th was her second PB this week after clocking an Olympic qualifying time in the 5000m, and Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto won the men’s race in 8:05.13.
Sandi Morris produced a 4.83m clearance in the pole vault to take the win, South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen prevailed in the javelin with a 65.14m throw and world champion Piot Malachowski threw a world lead 68.03m for the win in the discus.
» See the May 12 issue of Athletics Weekly for a full round-up from Doha and elsewhere