A long jump victory from Tianna Bartoletta and a patented Mo Farah sprint finish bookended an entertaining first day of competition at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene on Friday night (29).
Bartoletta was the first winner of a Diamond Race discipline at the 41st edition of the famous Prefontaine Classic, taking the long jump with a wind-assisted leap of 7.11m on her third attempt.
She jumped 6.83m in the next round, her best wind-legal mark of the series, before passing her two final tries.
“The field today demanded superior performances," said Bartoletta. "All of the ladies have been jumping really well this year so when I woke up this morning my husband, my coach and I we all kept affirming that I was ready to jump seven metres plus and that was only thing I allowed to loop in my head today."
The beginning to Bartoletta’s series wasn’t as promising. Wind hampered her approach and she jumped well behind the board on her first two attempts before she adjusted her run up by moving in closer. It was a choice that proved to be decisive.
Christabel Nettey equalled her Canadian record – and Bartoletta's world-leading mark – of 6.99m in second place while Lorraine Ugen of Great Britain jumped a wind-assisted 6.89m for third place.
Kovacs beyond 22 metres again
Elsewhere on the field, world leader Joe Kovacs posted a final-round throw of 22.12m to emerge victorious in a stellar men’s shot put competition.
“The arm strength was there so it was all about setting up and timing and trusting all the work that we did previous to today,” said Kovacs.
Kovacs and David Storl emerged as front-runners early in the enthralling competition after they were the only throwers to exceed 21 metres in the first round, Kovacs taking pole position with his opening 21.69m.
Kovacs improved to 21.72m in the second round but Storl, throwing last of the eight putters as befitting his status as the two-time world champion, took the lead with 21.80m.
The third round saw the lead switch back once again as Kovacs fired out his shot to 21.95m with Storl responding with 21.88m.
Kovacs continued his high quality series with 21.92m in the fifth round, a distance Storl equalled with his last effort, just five centimetres shy of his best and his second-best put ever.
Able to relax with the final put of the competition, Kovacs then reached 22.11m, the second-best distance of his life.
Friday was Kovacs’s third time this year beyond 22 metres, which puts him atop the national pecking order in an event where the US is particularly strong.
Piotr Malachowski of Poland won the discus with a sixth-round throw of 65.59m. Compatriot Robert Urbanek was leading until that throw but had to settle for second with 65.42m.
Farah continues his 10,000 win streak
Mo Farah won the men’s 10,000m in 26:50.97, and remains unbeaten over 25 laps of the track since he finished second at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, but the double Olympic, world and European champion had hoped for a faster time, perhaps under his European record of 26:46.57 which he set at Hayward Field in 2011.
“My aim was definitely to run a little faster," he said. "Training has been going pretty well so you know it’s one of those things where you might as well go for it, it’s still early on.
“We didn’t have a pacemaker after 5km, we had to work for it ourselves.”
Farah sprinted away from the Kenyan duo of Paul Tanui and Geoffrey Kamworor in the final 100 metres in a race that slowed slightly in the second half after the halfway split was reached in an unofficial 13:21.
Farah spoke with Tanui before the race about sharing the lead in the later laps, but they weren’t able to create the even pace needed for the fast times.
“We wanted to run a fast time and then try to win the race after that,” added Farah.
Instead, it turned into a tactical battle between Farah, Tanui and Kamworor over the final laps.
Farah made his first move with about 350 metres remaining and then put the two Kenyans away for good at the beginning of the home straight.
Tanui moved up for second in 26:51.86 and the world cross-country champion Kamwowor ran a big personal best of 26:52.65 in third.
Behind them, Cam Levins set a Canadian record, running 27:07.51 for fourth place.
The men’s 5000m caused the evening’s biggest surprise as Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha sprinted away from Kenya’s Edwin Soi and USA’s Galen Rupp on the track where he won the world junior title last summer to win in 13:10.54.
The 17-year-old Kejelcha shaved almost 15 seconds off his personal best, making his winning move with 300 metres remaining, and Soi and Rupp couldn’t match his change of speed.
Soi finished second and 13:11.97 and Rupp was third in 13:12.36.
Fourth was the evergreen 2007 world champion Bernard Lagat, whose time of 13:14.97 took almost 30 seconds off the previous best by an over-40 runner, 13:43.15 by France's Mohamed Ezzher.
Kevin Sully for the IAAF