Yohan Blake powers past Powell in Zurich 100m
The Weltklasse Zürich meeting, the first of the two finals of the Samsung Diamond League took place tonight in front of a full house of enthusiastic spectators in the city’s famous Letzigrund Stadium.
With Valerie Adams already having secured the Shot Put title yesterday evening, in total there were 15 more Diamond Races to be decided tonight, with Trophies and US$40,000 in cash distributed to each overall series winner.
There was no doubting the tiredness of some athletes this evening, who in many cases had only returned a couple of days ago from the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, with the flash quotes littered by wearily referenced comments.
However, that didn’t stop the crowd enjoying an entertaining evening of athletics which was highlighted by performances in the Diamond Race events especially by five athletes, three who had triumphed in Daegu, and another two who came to Zürich in the search of redemption. Outside the Diamond Race events, World champion Sally Pearson, whose event the 100mH is decided next week at the second Final in Brussels, continued her supremacy in fine style.
Blake beats Powell and Dix
World 100m gold medallist Yohan Blake showed he still has plenty in his tank despite the exertions of Daegu when roaring to a lifetime best of 9.82 to lower his previous PB by an impressive 0.07sec ahead of Asafa Powell and Walter Dix.
The 21-year-old Jamaican sprint champion didn't show his hand until the final 20m when accelerating brilliantly he powered past the pair to win his first Diamond Race outing of the series.
Powell, the Zürich meet record holder, already had the overall season long Diamond Race title tied up after fellow countryman Usain Bolt his only contender for the US$40,000 prize money and Diamond Trophy decided not to compete at the penultimate meet on the 14 meeting global circuit.
Dix seemed to have the better of Powell for second place until the former World recordholder found some hidden energy and, although clutching his left hamstring he finished in 9.95, with his US rival third in 10.04.
Young gun James
And while we are writing about a young gun of our sport, one even fresher than Blake is World 400m champion Kirani James of Grenada who again showed a clean pair of heels to the USA's Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt, who he’d deprived of the World title in Daegu.
Tonight the 19-year-old had double course to celebrate after a much more convincing win on this occasion, as coming off the bend almost together he came home in front of the American winning by 0.31sec in 44.36. James was also rewarded by winning the overall Diamond Race title denying Jamaica's Jermaine Gonzales, third on this occasion in 45.39, who had come to Zurich as the event leader. He also smashed the Grenadian National record of 44.47 which Alleyne Francique had posted seven years ago.
"I executed the race perfectly," said James. "The conditions were better than in Daegu so I was able to run my personal best. You are asking about sub 44? I will be happy to run 44.35 next year.” James’ time was the only individual event national record established tonight, with Switzerland’s 4x100m squad’s 38.62 for third behind Jamaica’s 38.31 victory, the only other national best recorded.
Robles is greatly satisfied
World record holder and Olympic 110m Hurdles champion Dayron Robles at 24-years-old is hardly a veteran but in comparison to Blake and James he is a firmly established world star. After his disqualification in Daegu when he obstructed China's Lui Xiang in the final, Robles was clearly eager to bounce back and he did so in brilliant style running 13.01, his fastest time of the season by 0.03sec, to beat World champion Jason Richardson of the USA who clocked 13.10.
The Cuban who took charge of the race before the halfway point picked up double points to win the Diamond Race title with the out-going champion David Oliver of the USA, who came to Zurich with a three point advantage ahead of him, finishing a distant third in 13.26.
Robles said: "I felt great today, only after the seventh I started to become too tight. Otherwise I would have run under 13 seconds. But it is always a big pleasure to be the winner here in Zurich. (It's) a great satisfaction for me after Daegu."
Delight for Obergföll
Another looking for redemption after Daegu failure was Christina Obergföll of Germany who finished outside the medals last week.
Obergfoll, 30, may have already won the Javelin Diamond Race before entering the infield of the Letzigrund Stadium but the German gave the competition her very best and scored a fifth 2011 series victory with a season's best of 69.57.
The German's effort, a Weltklasse Zürich meet record, came in the fifth round with South Africa's Sunette Viljoen, the Daegu bronze medallist and the most improved performer on the circuit this season, throwing 67.46m in the same round for second.
Then came World champion Mariya Abakumova of Russia who had briefly held the lead with 64.48m in the third round, until Viljoen bettered that with an effort of 66.96 in the next, to also take a temporary lead before Obergföll threw her winner.
"I did not reach my goal in Daegu so to win the Diamond League is very important to me," said Obergfoll, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, who was fourth there. "I want to forget what happened in Korea and look to the future. A season's best and meet record - I must be satisfied."
Cheruiyot produces a solid win
With organisers paying double prize money rather than time bonuses after the stamina sapping schedules some of the 5000 entrants undertook in Daegu, Vivian Cheruiyot still produced a solid performance to retain her Diamond Race title.
Cheruiyot, with only Sentayehu Ejigu of Ethiopia having sufficient points to possibly fetch her downfall, was content to follow the pace from the middle of the pack set by Poland's Renate Plis who went through the first two kilometres in 2:56.98 and 5:54.34.
Then her fellow Kenyan Mercy Cherono passed 3km (8:52.37) and Linet Masai the next in 11:48.99, before Cheruiyot moved alongside her colleague with 800m remaining.
With 600m left, the double World champion hit the front and although pressurised over the final circuit by Sally Kipyego, her teammate who took silver in Daegu, she held on to win with an impressive meet record of 14:30.10.
The runner-up lowered her personal best by over eight seconds to 14:30.42, with Masai completing a clean Kenyan sweep, third in 14:35.11.
Pearson produces another class display
Sally Pearson in the non-Diamond Race 100m Hurdles race was in a class of her own when flying down the home straight to win well ahead of the field in a time of 12.52sec from Dawn Harper and the vastly improved Phylicia George.
Harper, USA's Olympic champion and second to the Australian at the World Championships, finished in 12.81, with George of Canada taking some distinguished scalps including Daegu bronze medallist Danielle Carruthers, who clocked 12.84 in fifth.
"It was a fantastic race," said Pearson after another brilliant victory. "I was quite nervous before the race, I wanted to confirm my World title. I want to be ready for every single race on the track and I proved it today. Hard work always pays off."
Spencer after her fourth place finish in Daegu gets it right
Kaliese Spencer, sporting an eight point lead ahead of nearest 400m Hurdles rival Czech Zuzana Hejnova, was the first athlete of the night to retain her Diamond Race title, and the Jamaican did it in great style.
Having missed out on the World bronze medal for a second successive championships, the fast finishing former World Junior title holder romped past fellow countrywoman Melaine Walker down the home straight to win by 0.07sec in 53.36. The USA's Daegu World champion Lashinda Demus was third in 54.04.
Savinova powers home with late attack
Mariya Savinova proving once again she is much more than a cut above the rest of the 800m runners produced a spectacular finish, and having begun her attack when 20m behind the leader Alysia Montano and Jenny Meadows, she hauled them in to win in 1:58.27.
The Russian World champion was well off the pace at the bell where Ukrainian Liliya Lobabanova went through in 56.83 and then 600 with a clocking of 1:28.23 before stepping off the track.
Montano of the USA and Meadows were unable to respond when the World champion came flying past, and finished in 1:58.41 and 1:58.92 respectively. The Briton lying second behind Kenia Sinclair in the Diamond Race beforehand, clinched the overall title with the Jamaican blowing her chances with a disappointing ninth in 2:01.71.
Harting wins but Alekna celebrates Diamond Race title
In the infield, Robert Harting after snatching his second successive World Discus Throw gold medal in Daegu continued his purple patch of form extending his winning streak to 17 successive victories.
The 26-year-old German winged out a throw of 67.02m in the second round to thwart the threat of two-time World and Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna who had opened his competition with 66.69. Hungary's 2004 Olympic silver medallist Zoltan Kovago snatched third with his final effort of 65.58.
Lithuania's Alekna having come into the meet with a solid platform following wins in Stockholm and London and now a solid second place here claimed the overall Diamond Race title.
Australia's World Long Jump silver medallist Mitchell Watt, with Diamond Race success already assured coming into tonight’s meet, was lying last after three attempts before withdrawing from the competition and revealing afterward he was feeling tired after a season encompassing 16 competitions.
Zimbabwe's Ngonidzashe Makusha clearing eight metres, on a night most of the field will not wish to remember, claimed victory ahead of Russia's Aleksandr Menkov (7.94) and Marcos Chuva of Portugal (7.88), a centimetre clear of four-time World champion Dwight Phillips of the USA.
Kiprop blows up in 1500
The post-World Championships fatigue which seemed to be engulfing a lot of the competitors who had been to the Far East location, was really apparent in the 1500 where there was a predictable Kenyan clean sweep but not the expected composition of names.
Nixon Chepseba, who wasn't selected for the Kenyan team in Daegu, pulled off a coup when not only beating his higher profile rivals with a time of 3:32.74 but also collecting the overall Diamond Race title. His finishing sprint ahead of world season leader Silas Kiplagat, who clocked 3:33.56, and Haron Keitany, who finished in 3:34.57, won him an unexpected US$40,000 and a Diamond Race Trophy.
Olympic and World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, who arrived at the meet as the leader had only himself to blame for throwing away the title by just a single point. Lying third with 20m remaining he ground almost to a halt, virtually walking across the line in seventh in an unremarkable time of 3:34.89.
Koech takes Diamond Race title
Paul Koech retained his Diamond Race 3000m Steeplechase title although on the night had to settle for second best to World champion Ezekiel Kemboi.
Kemboi hit the front with 800 remaining but his fellow Kenyan was sticking to his back like a piece of Elastoplast and the tactic paid dividends when they got clear of third placed Benjamin Kiplagat on the final circuit.
Koech tried desperately to get past the newly crowned World champion at the final barrier but Kemboi came off it to clinch victory by 0.12sec in 8:07.72, with Kiplagat succumbing to their finishing pace, clocking 8:12.08.
Jeter in speedy finish
Carmelita Jeter, running a storming home straight was rewarded with not only 200m victory in 22.37sec but also snatched the season long Diamond Race title by three points from fellow Americans Bianca Knight and Allyson Felix, who finished with equal scores.
The race coming off the bend seemed to be a contest between Felix and Jamaica's Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce before Jeter, the Daegu World 100 champion, flew past them 50m from the finish line.
Felix, the defending Diamond Race titleholder, tried to get back on terms but finished in 22.40, with Fraser-Pryce running with a smile on her face and clearly enjoying herself, setting a season's best of 22.59 for third.
Spiegelburg produces when it matters most; Williams in dramatic finish
Silke Spiegelburg, after a disappointing ninth finish in Daegu, bounced back brilliantly to capture the Diamond Race Pole Vault title when finishing second on count-back to Jennifer Suhr, both having cleared 4.72m.
Spiegelburg who held a four point advantage over World champion Fabiana Murer, last year's overall winner, produced a vault which was only three centimetres shy of her personal best which she achieved earlier this summer.
Keeping her nerve she went clear at 4.72m with her second attempt, while Murer who had kept a clean sheet at 4.42m and 4.62m, surprisingly failed with all her three attempts. The Brazilian's demise saw World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia share third position on count-back with her.
Williams’ better performance breaks a points’ tie
World High Jump champion Jesse Williams with a best of 2.28m only finished fourth in a competition in which Dimitrios Chondrokoukis of Greece was the surprise winner after equalling his personal best of 2.32m, ahead of Bahamian Trevor Barry (2.30) and Russia's Ivan Ukhov (2.28).
However, the American who also cleared the same height as Ukhov was crowned Diamond Race champion from Russia's Andrey Silnov. The pair both had a tally of nine points and one victory each in the series under their belts and were split for the title by virtue of Williams better performance tonight (Silnov cleared 2.25m) – which bagged the overall series prize.
Two-time World Long Jump gold medallist Brittney Reese led from start to finish to retain her Diamond Race title, her furthest distance of 6.72m coming in the third round.
The American was only pressurised by Belarusian Nastassia Mironchik-Ivanova who produced an effort of 6.67m in the same round, while European champion Ineta Radevic of Latvia jumped her furthest of 6.61 with her last attempt for third.
Dave Martin for the Samsung Diamond League
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