Renaud Lavillenie on his way to winning the pole vault at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
It was a good afternoon for France at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene as Renaud Lavillenie lived up to expectations in the pole vault and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde exceeded them in the 110m hurdles on Saturday (31).
With tricky winds blowing throughout the competition, the men's pole vaulters didn’t have an easy go of things at Hayward Field for the 40th Prefontaine Classic. Lavillenie managed the conditions best, but still struggled to finish first with a clearance of 5.80m, far off his world-leading mark of 5.92m.
The world record-holder missed once at his opening height of 5.63m, passed at 5.73m – the four remaining competitors all missed three times at that bar – before clearing 5.80m on his second attempt. He missed all three jumps at 5.90m. Lavillenie now has eight points in the Diamond Race and a commanding six-point lead.
Meanwhile, Martinot-Lagarde pulled off an upset in the men's 110m hurdles, winning in 13.13 to take the Diamond Race lead with seven points. The race, billed as a showdown of top US talent, never materialised. World record-holder Aries Merritt withdrew with a hamstring issue, while world champion David Oliver finished third in 13.21 behind Jamaica's Hansle Parchment (13.20) in his first race since injuring a foot in Shanghai.
"I am not afraid of the other athletes out there," said Martinot-Lagarde, the world indoor silver medallist.
Fraser-Pryce stunned, Spencer strong
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finished dead last in the 200m in 23.06 as the race was run by USA’s unheralded Tori Bowie, who clocked a world-leading 22.18. Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria was second in a personal best of 22.23 while three-time world champion Allyson Felix of the US took third in 22.44.
"Someone pulled out of the race and I found out two days ago that I’d be running, that I had to fill lane one," said Bowie, a long jump specialist who represented the US at this year’s World Indoor Championships and only began to focus on sprinting this year.
"I’m in the heat with an amazing field. I wasn’t even thinking about time. I was just scared. I didn’t want anyone to pass me. I just kept running and kept running. It paid off."
While Fraser-Pryce was stunned, her Jamaican teammate Kaliese Spencer stood tall in the 400m hurdles.
The former Diamond Race winner showed a return to old form with an impressive early-season performance, winning in a world-leading 54.29, which pushed her Diamond Race leading total to six points. USA’s Kori Carter (55.22) and Tiffany Williams (55.97) were the next finishers.
World leads for Ndiku and Chicherova
Kenya's Caleb Ndiku broke away from a tight pack of four on the final lap to score an impressive victory in the men's 5000m, crossing in a world-leading 13:01.71. Andrew Bumbalough set an honest early pace, bringing the leaders – Ndiku, Edwin Soi of Kenya, Ethiopians Yenew Alamirew and Hagos Gebrhiwet and Bahrain's Albert Rop – through 3000m in 7:52.78. When the primary pacers stepped off the track at the 9:36 mark, the pace sagged just a bit, but Ndiku kicked into an unmatchable gear at the bell, closing in 54.7.
Russia's Anna Chicherova found her form late in the high jump and cleared a world-leading 2.01m on her first attempt to earn her first IAAF Diamond League victory of the season and tie with countrywoman Mariya Kuchina atop the Diamond Race standings.
Chicherova, Justyna Kasprzycka of Poland, Ruth Beita of Spain and Kuchina had all been tied at 1.97m. Kuchina failed to clear 1.99m, but Chicherova and Kasprzycka cleared it on their second attempts while Beita made it on a third.
Jamaica's Novlene Williams-Mills prevailed in a close sprint to the finish in the 400m, crossing first in 50.40 to extend her leading total in the Diamond Race standings to eight points. Francena McCorory was second in 50.53 and Stephenie Ann McPherson of Jamaica was third in 50.63. 2011 world champion Amantle Montsho was fifth in 50.73, one place ahead of Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross.
Vitezslav Vesely had a pretty easy day at the office. The world champion took just four throws, fouling one and passing on his final two after sending his third attempt a soaring 83.75m, extending his Diamond Race leading total to five points. Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen was the closest to Vesely, hitting 80.52m in the fourth round before also passing on his final two throws. Dmitri Tarabin of Russia was third at 80.28m.
In the women’s two miles, the leaders went through the halfway point in 4:33.5 and hit the bell in 8:07.7 before Kenya’s Mercy Cherono kicked on to win in a Kenyan record of 9:13.27. Viola Kibiwot of Kenya was second in a personal best of 9:13.48 while Bahrain’s Mimi Belete crossed third in an Asian record of 9:13.85. In fourth, Shannon Rowbury set a US record of 9:20.25.
Joe Battaglia for the IAAF