Tori Bowie’s impressive victory in the 100m and an unexpectedly strong triple jump duel between Catherine Ibarguen and Yulimar Rojas were the key highlights at the 2016 Doha meeting as the IAAF Diamond League series kicked off in the Qatari capital for the seventh straight year .
The pair produced two of the 12 world leading performances set during the evening’s nearly ideal conditions on a night when four meeting records and six national records also fell.
The women’s 100m, one of the meeting’s marquee events, lived up to expectations with Bowie, the US champion, topping a solid field in 10.80, a meeting record and world lead.
Running even with Dafne Schippers and Veronica Campbell-Brown with about 25 metres remaining, last year’s World Championships bronze medallist pulled away to edge Schippers by a scant 0.03 to equal her personal best set in 2014.
“I gave the race my everything and the win was mine,” said Bowie, who displayed confident composure in the race’s closing metres. “I feel that I’m a much better runner than I was last season.”
Despite a self-professed sluggish start, 200m world champion Schippers was pleased with her first 100m race of the season, coming just 0.02 shy of her career best.
Two-time Olympic 200m champion Campbell-Brown clocked 10.91 in third, also under the previous meet mark.
In the women’s triple jump, Ibarguen, the world champion outdoors defeated Rojas, the world indoor champion, in the finest infield duel of the evening. But it took a 15-metre jump to do it.
Ibarguen led early at 14.77m, but the rapidly improving Rojas took command with a 14.79 Venezuelan record in the third round. After fouling in the fourth, Ibarguen retook the lead in the fifth with a 15.04m leap, a world-leader that set the early season bar exceptionally high. But Rojas, unfazed, came close with her fifth attempt, a wind-assisted 14.92m (+2.6) before fouling on her final jump.
“I’m happy I started the season with a jump over 15 metres,” said the Colombian star, whose leap was the farthest ever recorded in the month of May. “I will keep on working hard and I will definitely try to break the world record. It has stayed untouched for over 20 years.”
That’s something Rojas, just 20, may have in the back of her mind as well.
“I will continue improving,” said Rojas, who entered the competition with a 14.69m career best set during the indoor season. “Fifteen metres are so close now, I am sure I can make it. I will save the best for the Rio Olympics.”
Olympic champion Olga Rypakova was a distant third at 14.61m.
In the men’s competition, Christian Taylor won his second Doha crown with 17.23m, also a world lead.
“I had higher expectations, but it’s important to stay healthy,” said Taylor, whose primary focus remains on defending his Olympic title later this summer.
Bin Dong of China, the world indoor champion, was second at 17.07m.
Morris Equals Diamond League Record
Meanwhile, Sandi Morris was the class of the women’s pole vault field. The 23-year-old American topped 4.83 to equal the Diamond League record and take command of the world lead.
“I’m really proud of my performance here,” said Morris, who topped 4.95m indoors in March. “After a 20-hour flight, I had only a little time to rest. Having been able to put up such a performance is incredible.”
Nichole Buchler raised the Swiss national record to 4.78m to finish second with Katerina Stefanidi of Greece third with 4.73m, an outdoor best.
Webb and Merritt top the sprints, McLeod’s Momentum Continues
Ameer Webb made it a short dash double for the US with his convincing victory in the 200m. The 25-year-old clocked a 19.85 career best, to break the meeting record set four years ago.
Alonso Edward of Panama was a distance second at 20.06 with Qatari Femi Ogunode (20.10) third.
LaShawn Merritt was pleased with his victory in the 400m, a convincing one in 44.41. Clearly ahead at midway, he slowed down the final straight, but managed to fight off a two-flank attack. On his inside Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago was second in 44.68 with Qatar’s Abdallelah Haroun, to his outside, third in 44.81.
In a race that laid waste to more than a dozen barriers, Omar McLeod won the season’s first high level face-off in the 110m hurdles, edging his Jamaican compatriot Hansle Parchment 13.05 to 13.10.
“It wasn’t the perfect race,” said the world indoor 60m hurdles champion who lowered his own world lead by 0.03 seconds. “But I’m so happy I could win.”
In a near blanket finish, Orlando Ortega of Spain was third in 13.12.
Solo Exhibitions in the Middle Distances
Despite the strong fields, the middle and long distances were largely solo exhibitions beginning with Asbel Kiprop’s third Doha 1500m victory.
Just 800 metres into the race, the three-time world champion found himself alone with the pacesetter. Kiprop was way out in front by the bell and never challenged over the final lap to win in 3:32.15, another world leader. Teammates Elijah Manangoi (3:33.67) and Silas Kiplagat (3:33.86) followed.
Almaz Ayana’s victory in the 3000m was even more dominant. The reigning world 5000m champion from Ethiopia was never threatened and closed with a 65-second final lap to win in 8:23.11.
“It was a very good race for me,” said Ayana, who came up just a second shy of her personal best set last year. “My mind is already on Rio.”
Kenyan Mercy Cherono was second in 8:26.36 and Gelete Burka of Ethiopia third (8:26.49). World 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot was next in 8:31.86.
Another world leader came courtesy of former world champion Caster Semenya in the 800m. Running sixth at the bell, the South African was third midway through the final turn before taking the lead for good at the top of the home straight. She clocked 1:58.26, well clear of Ethiopian Habitam Alemu (1:59.14) and Kenyan Eunice Sum (1:59.74).
Conseslus Kipruto kept the Doha 3000m steeplechase crown firmly in Kenyan hands with his impressive 8:05.13 victory, another world lead. The two-time World championships silver medallist edged compatriot Jairus Birech (8:08.28) by more than three seconds.
Brooks, Malachowski and Viljoen Take the Throws
Tia Brooks got her Diamond League campaign off to a strong start with a dominant victory in the shot put. The 25-year-old American reached 19.48m –her second personal best of the night— in the third round to win over Hungary’s Anita Morton by 26cm.
Piotr Malachowski out-duelled Philip Milanov to take top honours in the discus throw. The pair exchanged the lead through all but one of the first four rounds, with Milanov taking control in round five with a 67.26m heave, a Belgian national record. Malachowski, the reigning world champion, countered with a 68.03m toss with his final attempt to seize the victory and take over the world lead.
South African Victor Hogan was third at 65.59m.
His compatriot however, the African record holder Sunette Viljoen, prevailed in the women’s javelin throw with a 65.14m best, nearly two metres ahead of Australian Kathryn Mitchell who reached 63.25. Asian record holder Lu Huihui of China was third (62.42m).
Elsewher on the infield, 2012 Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard of the US nabbed his first Doha high jump victory at 2.33m, another world lead. China’s Zhang Guowei was second at 2.31m. Home hero Mutaz Barshim bowed out early with three misses at 2.29m to finish a distant seventh, but said he wasn’t concerned. “It’s an Olympic year, and I’m taking things slow. It’s all part of the plan,” he said.
Back on the track, Eilidh Doyle, the European 400m hurdles champion, won her specialty in 54.53, also a world leader, comfortably clear of Bahraini Kemi Adekoya (54.87), the world indoor 400m champion.
And finally, there was a home victory early in the programme as Abubaker Abdalla held off Kenyan Nicholas Koech to win a regional 800m contest 1:45.28 to 1:45.56, a career best for the Qatari. Two-time world indoor champion Abubaker Kaki struggled throughout and was never in the hunt. The Sudanese reached the line last in 1:49.97.