With just three days to go until the Qatari capital Doha once again kicks off the IAAF Diamond League, we look back on the series’ eight-year history and recall the meeting’s top-three moments. Will any be topped this weekend?
Rohler’s rocket launch, 2017
Heading into 2017, Thomas Rohler may have been the reigning Olympic champion, but despite holding a personal best of 91.28m the German had never unfurled the sort of weapons-grade whopper of which many thought him capable. But that all changed on the first stop of the IAAF Diamond League in Doha.
Rohler muddled through the opening rounds with the look of a man who hadn’t thrown competitively in eight months, which he hasn’t, his first two efforts of 82.94m and 85.52m well down on his best, but an 88.12m effort in the third showed there was no post-Olympic hangover.
In the fourth round, he jig-jogged down the runway and let rip a monster throw, and as it sailed into the Doha night Rohler watched it with intent. Before it hit the ground 93.90m away, his arm was already raised in celebration. It moved him from 11th to second on the all-time list, behind only world record holder Jan Zelezny, and was the longest throw in the world for 20 years.
“I did not see that coming,” said Rohler, and neither did we.
Obiri and Cherono tear up the track, 2014
Seven women under 8:30, five under 8:25 and the winner, Hellen Obiri, clocking the seventh fastest outdoor 3000m in history – the 2014 women’s 3000m in Doha will be remembered as one of the greats.
In a race set up for Genzebe Dibaba, a quartet of Kenyans stuck behind the Ethiopian as the first 1000m was reached in 2:47.98, with Dibaba taking over just after halfway and reaching 2000m in 5:37.32. But as she entered the final lap the distress signals were soon sent out by Dibaba, and in the end it came down to a home-straight shootout between Obiri and Mercy Cherono, the former setting an African record of 8:20.68 to edge victory to Cherono’s 8:21.14.
Such was the calibre of the race that soon-to-be Olympic champions Faith Kipyegon and Almaz Ayana were only third and fifth respectively, with Dibaba sixth in 8:26.21. “With good pace making and good conditions, I think the world record [8:06.11] can be broken,” said Obiri afterwards. “It’s not impossible.”
Clash of the triple jump titans, 2015
There’s a first time for everything, and on a warm evening in May 2015 a piece of athletics history was carved in the Doha sand with two athletes soaring beyond 18 metres in the same competition.
At the time, Pedro Pablo Pichardo was an unknown quantity on the world stage, the Cuban regularly threatening to become an 18-metre jumper on home soil but rarely producing his best abroad. But that all changed in Doha, where the then 21-year-old hopped, skipped and jumped his way to a national record of 18.06m in the third round.
On any other day, that would be victory and maximum points firmly in the satchel, but Christian Taylor took it an affront, the Olympic champion conjuring up a gigantic leap in the final round to leave the crowd anxiously awaiting the final measurement. In the end, it was just a smidge shy of Pichardo’s mark, but still a PB of 18.04m for the American.
“It’s a special day for me to go over 18 metres,” said Taylor. One none of us will forget.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF