Hyvin Kiyeng and Ruth Jebet battling in Doha (© Hasse Sjogren)
Hyvin Kiyeng clocked the sixth fastest performance ever in the women’s 3000m steeplechase to highlight action on the track at the opening meeting of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League series in Doha.
The world champion kicked away from compatriot Beatrice Chepkoech and world record-holder Ruth Jebet as she approached the final barrier, pulling away to a 9:00.12 victory.
The Olympic silver medallist has now twice come frustratingly close to the event’s nine-minute barrier; her personal best still sits on that cusp at 9:00.01. But if she was frustrated, the 25-year-old didn’t show it.
“The time is good for the start of the season,” she said. “The race was competitive and tough.”
Although they were denied the win, Chepkoech, with a lifetime best of 9:01.57 elevating her to the No.4 position all time, and Jebet, with 9:01.99, will certainly be pleased with their starts as well.
In a quality race, Celliphine Chepteek Chespol, the world U20 champion and still just 18, finished fourth in 9:05.70, a world U20 record (pending the usual ratification procedures). Further back, Olympic bronze medallist Emma Coburn was fifth in 9:14.53.
Kiyeng’s performance was one of six world leads on a typically warm but windy evening in Doha’s Qatar Sports Club stadium. Her compatriot Ronald Kwemoi, better known as a 1500m runner, kicked away to take the evening-capping 3000m in style in 7:28.73, chopping 25 seconds from his personal best. After this breakthrough, the 21-year-old Commonwealth Games 1500m silver medallist may consider widening his options.
Olympic 5000m silver medallist Paul Chelimo of the US was second in 7:31.57, a lifetime best, with Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha, the world indoor champion over the distance, clocking 7:32.27 for third.
Another world lead came in the men’s high jump courtesy of Qatar’s biggest athletics star Mutaz Barshim who finally notched an IAAF Diamond League victory before his home crowd.
Clearly the class of the field, Barshim cleared six heights from 2.19m to 2.33m with his first tries, the last essentially sealing the win. After one miss at 2.35m and with Britain’s Robbie Grabarz bowing out at that height, Barshim had the bar raised to 2.36m and cleared it comfortably, also on his first try, before calling it a night.
Grabarz topped out at 2.31m with 2007 world champion Donald Thompson third with 2.29m.
Thompson and Simbine take the sprints
Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson drew first blood in her ongoing rivalry with world 200m champion Dafne Schippers, leading and fending off the Dutchwoman en route to a sizable 22.19 win, after fighting a -2.3m/s wind down the homestretch.
“I just wanted to get the race right and see how far along I am in the season,” said Thompson, who raced over the distance for the first time this year.
Schippers was second in 22.45 with Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Cote D’Ivoire third in 22.77.
Akani Simbine won the season’s first major global 100m showdown, powering away from the field over the final 10 metres en route to his first career IAAF Diamond League triumph in 9.99 against at -1.2m/s wind.
“This really sets the motivation for the rest of the season,” said the South African record-holder at 9.89 who arrived in the Qatari capital with a 9.92 season’s best. “I’m looking forward to the World Championships.”
Asafa Powell held on to finish second in 10.08 with local favourite Femi Ogunode third in 10.13.
Canada’s triple Olympic medallist Andre de Grasse, sluggish from the start, was never in the hunt and finished fifth in 10.21.
Harrison battles the wind and a broken hand
World record-holder Kendra Harrison dominated the 100m hurdles in a race where her chief opponent was the hefty -2.3m/s wind – and a broken bone in her left hand, an injury sustained during warm-up. She fought both valiantly, well clear of the field by the midway point before reaching the line in 12.59, just shy of her 12.56 world lead from last weekend’s Drake Relays. She was taken directly to a hospital and fitted with a cast before returning to the meeting hotel for dinner.
Germany’s Cindy Roleder won the battle for second, out-leaning Sharika Nelvis by a scant 0.01 in 12.90.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, in Doha not a point-scoring event, world leader Abderrahaman Samba made the most of his first major international race, dominating a field that included the reigning Olympic and world champions.
The 21-year-old, who hadn't even raced seriously in the event prior to this year, put on a display that put his rivals on alert. Powering down the back straight in lane four, he made up the stagger on the entire field by the time he entered the final turn. Although he slowed considerably over the final 20 metres, he never faltered, winning in 48.44.
Kerron Clement, the Olympic champion, was nearly a second back in 49.40, with South African LJ van Zyl third in 49.49.
A first-attempt clearance at 4.80m all sealed the pole vault victory for Olympic champion Ekaterini Stefanidi, who battled shifting winds to beat back Sandi Morris, the Olympic silver medallist, who topped out at 4.75m.
World champion Yarisley Silva was third at 4.65m.
Rounding out the infield action, double world and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor took another Doha victory, this time with a final-round effort of 17.25m to beat Omar Craddock, whose 17.08m best led the competition from the second round.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF