Convincing victory for Dina Asher-Smith in Stockholm (© AFP/Getty Images)
On a night that was anything but conducive to fast times, Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith and Norway’s Karsten Warholm defied the conditions at the BAUHAUS-Galan, the third meeting of the IAAF Diamond League, on Thursday (30).
On an evening of cold temperatures and high winds, Asher-Smith clocked a world-leading 22.18 (+1.3m/s) to win the women’s 200m, handing defeats to world champion Dafne Schippers and Olympic champion Elaine Thompson in the process.
The 23-year-old got off to a flying start and ate up the stagger on her chief rivals in the lanes outside her on the turn, then powered further clear down the home straight to come home a wide-margin winner over Thompson (22.66) and Schippers (22.78).
“My aim was to come, win and run my own race which is very important in a race of that calibre,” said Asher-Smith. “I didn't expect to run that kind of time as it is quite cold.”
Warholm was no less impressive in the men’s 400m hurdles, the reigning world champion starting his outdoor season with a stunning display of one-lap hurdling to come home a long way clear of an international field and hit the line in 47.85.
Warholm predicted yesterday that he would go like a “sky-rocket” from the outset and that he would “probably die”, and while he was good to his word on the former statement, the latter fear was never realised. He powered to the line a distant winner ahead of TJ Holmes of USA (49.25) and Thomas Barr of Ireland (50.28).
“I felt like I went out hard and managed to take 13 steps until hurdle nine which is really good in these conditions so maybe this is the year I will go 13 all the way,” said Warholm.
“I had no problems with the cold or wind but I won in London (at the 2017 World Championships) in the rain and I have to learn to run in all conditions. It is an outdoor sport so whether it is cold or warm I have to run.”
Dominant run for Norman
Elsewhere in the sprints, Michael Norman lived up to his favourite’s billing with a commanding display to win the men’s 400m, though with strong winds and cold weather buffeting the runners his time, unsurprisingly, was nothing for the Californian to write home about.
Norman tracked training partner Rai Benjamin into the home straight then unleashed his trademark flying finish, powering clear over the final 50 metres to hit the line in 44.53. Benjamin held on for second in 45.13 with fellow US athlete Michael Cherry third in 46.30.
“Today was challenging, both mentally and physically, and there's a lot of things I need to work on,” said Norman. “I'm not particularly satisfied with my race. But it’s a long way to Worlds just yet. I'll continue working hard with my coach, and we'll see where that gets me.”
Kendra Harrison again stamped her authority on the women’s 100m hurdles with a commanding victory, the world record holder putting together a clean, crisp display to take victory with ease in 12.52.
“I have raced in a lot colder conditions so I just had to come out here and focus on my lane and get the job done which I did,” said Harrison. “You can't control the weather so you just deal with it.
“I didn't get out as well as I wanted but I finished the way that I wanted to so I plan on putting the whole race together by the time [the US] trials comes around. Right now me and my coach aren't worrying too much about the times.”
Her closest rival was fellow US athlete Sharika Nelvis who clocked 12.69, while Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan took third with 12.85.
Aaron Brown continued his fine start to the year with his second straight victory in the IAAF Diamond League, backing up his win in Doha with victory in the men’s 200m here in 20.06 (+1.0m/s).
“I know I´m one of the best starters in the world in the 200m because of my 100m background so I made sure I put some distance on them at the beginning and then tried to hang on,” said Brown. “I´m on a pretty good run right now, but I´ve been on the road for a month so I´m ready to go home and get back into training. ”
World champion Ramil Guliyev could only finish a distant second in 20.40, the Turk later explaining he was struggling with illness, while Jereem Richards came home third in 20.45.
In the non-Diamond League sprint events, Britain’s Rabah Yousif claimed victory in the men’s 400m in 46.67, Dutch sprinter Churandy Martina took the men’s 100m in 10.37 while Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel claimed the women’s 100m in 11.37. Norway’s Amalie Iuel took the women’s 400m hurdles in 57.02.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF