Barbora Spotakova at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels (© Gladys von der Laage)
Such was her lead in the Diamond Race standings, Valerie Adams could have simply dropped her shot out of the circle on each of her six attempts at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels on Friday (5) and she would have still walked away with the four-carat diamond trophy.
But the world and Olympic champion still had her four-year winning streak to defend, and that’s exactly what she did.
Competing in the Belgian capital for the first time, her opening-round effort of 19.66m gave her an early share of the lead with Germany's European champion Christina Schwanitz. USA’s Michelle Carter then crept into the lead with 19.69m in the second round, only for Adams to blow the competition apart with a world-leading mark of 20.59m, adding two centimetres to the meeting record that had stood to Natalia Lisovskaya for 27 years.
The New Zealander didn’t better that mark, but Carter and Schwanitz both improved. Carter managed 19.73m in round five, but Schwanitz overtook her in the final round with 19.86m.
It meant that not only did Adams extend her winning streak to 56 competitions by winning all seven of her competitions in the IAAF Diamond League, but she also won her fourth successive Diamond Race.
Like Adams, Barbora Spotakova led the Diamond Race standings coming into Brussels, but she couldn’t afford to rest on her laurels as Slovenia's Martina Ratej was just four points behind.
And again, just like Adams, the Czech thrower pulled out a world-leading throw and meeting record to guarantee the victory in the Diamond Race.
The Olympic champion and world record-holder trailed Australia’s Kathryn Mitchell’s 60.78m after the first two rounds, opening with 60.00m and then improving by one centimetre with her next throw.
She then took the lead with 66.22m in round three before unleashing her winning mark of 67.99m in the fourth round, breaking the meeting record of 67.76m that had stood to Norway’s Trine Hattestad since 2000.
African champion Sunette Viljoen moved into second place with her third-round throw of 63.48m, improving with her final throw of 64.30m. Mitchell also consolidated her third place by throwing 62.93m in round six.
Another world-leading mark came in the men’s 100m as USA’s Justin Gatlin secured the Diamond Race in a PB of 9.77, just 0.01 shy of Usain Bolt’s meeting record. Compatriot Mike Rodgers clocked 9.93 in second, 0.02 ahead of Jamaica’s Asafa Powell.
Gatlin returned later in the evening to win the non-IAAF Diamond League 200m in 19.71, making it the fastest one-day sprint double in history.
Ibarguen successfully defends Diamond Race title
World triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen added another victory to her two-year winning streak.
The Colombian already had an unassailable lead in the Diamond Race, but that didn’t stop her bounding out to the third-best mark of her career.
Her opening-round leap of 14.18m was overtaken by Ukraine's European champion Olga Saladukha in the second round with 14.53m, but Ibarguen immediately responded in the same round with a 14.75m leap.
That remained the leading mark of the competition until the last jump of the final round, Ibarguen flying out to 14.98m. Russia's world indoor champion Yekaterina Koneva finished third with 14.40m.
Jamaican 400m hurdler Kaliese Spencer was another athlete who simply had to turn up to secure her trophy for winning the Diamond Race.
She didn’t need to win – indeed, after chopping her stride going into the eighth hurdle, for a moment it looked as though she might be beaten – but the Commonwealth champion wrapped up her IAAF Diamond League season with a sixth victory in the series.
Spencer stopped the clock on 54.12 to finish ahead of Denisa Rosolova (54.54) and European champion Eilidh Child (54.76).
Two of Belgium’s top athletes were beaten in events that were not part of the IAAF Diamond League programme.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, USA’s Kristi Castlin held off Belgian record-holder Anne Zagre, 12.76 to 12.84. Trinidad and Tobago’s 2009 world bronze medallist Renny Quow crossed the line ahead of a fast-finishing Kevin Borlee in the men’s 400m, winning in 45.37 to the 2010 European champion’s 45.44.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF