In his previous two competitions on British soil, Christian Coleman beat Usain Bolt twice (semi-final and final) en route to world outdoor 100m silver in London twelve months ago and smashed Maurice Greene’s championship record as he sped to world indoor 60m gold in Birmingham in March.
This time, back in Birmingham for the Muller Grand Prix, the 12th IAAF Diamond League meeting of the year – the last before the finals in Zurich and Brussels – the 22-year-old US speed merchant was simply relieved to return to action with a victory.
After getting the jump on his 100m rivals with a vastly superior pick up, Coleman slowly ran out of gas over the final 20 metres and appeared to be caught on the line as Reece Prescod reprised the grandstand finish that took him to within 0.01 of gold and his British team-mate Zharnel Hughes at the European Championships in Berlin last week.
It took a prolonged pause, and microscopic scrutiny of the photo finish picture, before Coleman was declared the winner. Both men were given the same time, 9.94 (+0.5). The actual difference was 0.001 – 9.938 to 9.939.
Coleman’s US team-mate Noah Lyles, joint world leader with 9.88, was a relatively detached third in 9.98 – with former world champion Yohan Blake fourth in 9.99 and Hughes fifth in 10.05.
“It was a sigh of relief because you never know what to expect when you come back from injury,” confessed Coleman.
Like his first comeback of the season, after six weeks out with hamstring trouble, it was a winning return. In the Rabat Diamond League on 13 July he sneaked victory ahead of Baker, both men clocking 9.98.
Happily, after a recurrence of hamstring trouble in warm up at the London Diamond League, that season’s best has now been improved by 0.04.
“I got my rhythm back and I came out with the win in a good time,” he reflected. “I was looking forward to competing and the win is the icing on the cake.
“It's been a test for me to continually prove myself but I'll use this as a learning experience, now it's about winning the Diamond League final.”
That will be in Brussels on 31 August, when Coleman will have to contend with the impressive Prescod again.
“I’ve just missed out again but I can’t complain because I’ve come away with another PB,” said the Briton.
“I’ll put the work in to get ready for the Diamond League final. That will be a great race. All the best in the world come together and everyone is on form.”
Ortega impresses with powerful high hurdles run
With a swirling wind to contend with for most of the afternoon, there were no world leads but Spain’s Orlando Ortega shot to number two spot in the 110m hurdles with a superbly judged performance, powering clear over the second half to win in 13.08 (+1.3). Only Sergey Shubenkov (12.92) has gone quicker in 2018.
“I'm much happier with the time, but I am a little angry because if I ran like this at the European Championships I would have won gold,” said Ortega, who took bronze in Berlin.
Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, the Frenchman who took gold in the German capital, had to settle for third in 13.27, with Jamaica’s Ronald Levy runner up in 13.22.
Korir goes sub 1:43 again
The 800m was also an impressively brisk affair, Bram Som leading the field through halfway in 50.2, before Kenyan champion Jonathan Kitalit tried to stretch away from Emmanuel Korir – only for his compatriot to power past 70m out to win in 1:42.80, not quite as stunning as his 1:42.05 in the London Diamond League but a meet record nonetheless. Kitilit was runner up in 1:43.53 and world 1500m champion Elijah Manangoi third in a PB 1:44.15.
Kerley collects second Diamond League win of the season
As the eight men in the 400m rounded into the home straight, there was the surreal sight of the world and Olympic triple jump champion leading the way.
Christian Taylor stayed in front until some 60 metres out, not quite replicating Matt Hudson-Smith’s blast off and hang on tactics from the European Championships. Hudson-Smith edged in front at that point but the Briton did not have quite enough in the tank to close it out on his home track as US training partners Fred Kerley and Paul Dedewo launched their attacks.
Kerley, out of commission since his win in Rome in June, snatched his second Diamond League victory of the season, crossing the line in 45.54 with Hudson-Smith a close second in 45.59 and Dedewo third in 45.62.
Taylor took fourth in 45.78 – well down on the impressive 45.07 PB he notched in Hengelo but ahead of a clutch of top-notch specialist quarter milers, with 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos fifth in 45.81, European bronze medallist Jonathan Borlee sixth in 46.27 and newly crowned African champion Baboloki Thebe seventh in 46.35. Thebe's Botswanan team-mate Isaac Makwala was a notable non-starter.
Kipruto cruises, after lending a hand
With his great Moroccan rival Soufiane El Bakkali scratching before the start, Conseslus Kipruto lined up clear favourite for the 3000m steeplechase. The reigning world, Olympic and African champion duly delivered the victory – despite offering a consoling hand after fellow Kenyan Benjamin Kigen stumbled at the final water-jump and allowing Ethiopia’s Chala Beyo to temporarily pass him in the home straight.
Securing his spot in the Diamond League final, Kipruto prevailed in 8:14.33, with Beyo second in 8:14.61 and Kigen regaining his composure to cross the line fifth in 8:17.43.
Also on the track, the 66th running of the non-scoring Emsley Carr Mile produced an Australian victory for the first time, Stewart McSweyn sprinting past his fellow-countryman and training partner Ryan Gregson some 40m from the line to win in 3:54.60. In doing so, the 23-year-old became only the third winner of the classic four lap event from Oceania, following New Zealanders Murray Halberg and John Walker, Olympic champions both.
Starc improves to 2.33m
There was also a notable Australian victory in the field. Commonwealth champion Brandon Starc, brother of celebrated Australian cricketer Mitchell Starc, cleared a PB 2.33m for his first Diamond League victory – ahead of Canada’s Michael Mason and NACAC champion Jeron Robinson of the US, who both jumped 2.30m.
European silver medallist Andreas Hoffman nailed an 89.82m throw to win the javelin. His German team-mate Julian Weber took second with 86.63m, with Estonia’s European bronze medallist Magnus Kirt third (85.31m) and Germany’s Olympic and European champion Thomas Rohler down in fourth (84.33m).
The men’s long jump produced an equally impressive winner, South Africa’s world and Commonwealth champion Luvo Manyuonga prevailing with a meeting record leap of 8.53m. In his final track and field competition, former world, Olympic, European champion Greg Rutherford jumped 7.43 for eighth place.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF