Kendra Harrison after winning the 100m hurdles at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
Keni Harrison doesn’t remember much from her North American record run of 12.24 in the 100m hurdles at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene on Saturday (28).
“I felt really smooth, that’s the only thing that keeps running through my mind,” the US hurdler said after the second-fastest performance of all time and just 0.03 off Yordanka Donkova’s long-standing world record from 1988.
“I’m not sure how I can top this, but I’m sure my coach has a few tricks up his sleeve,” she added.
Harrison’s early season runs of 12.36 and 12.42 in April foreshadowed a quick time on Saturday, but she didn’t anticipate going this quick this early in this season.
“My coach always says to shoot for 12.1 so that’s the pace I’m going at practice, but you know it’s practice,” said Harrison.
Running out of lane six, Harrison was quick away but still challenged by 2013 world champion Brianna Rollins until the fifth hurdles, but then she just pulled away for a stunning win that had her clapping her hands with delight as soon as she crossed the line.
Rollins, the North American record-holder entering the event, finished second in 12.53 with Jasmin Stowers third in 12.55.
Even with the record now in her name, Harrison is wary of expecting automatic success in Rio, perhaps remembering the way that she went to the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 as a clear medal contender in the 60m hurdles but didn’t even make the podium.
“It (the 100m hurdles) is such a short race, anything can happen," she added. "All the Americans are top in this event."
Jebet and Kiyeng both set Area records
The world record also got a scare in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.
Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet was on world record pace when she broke away from the pack as the final laps ticked off.
With one lap remaining, a time within nine minutes looked possible and with a 68.8 last lap she could break the world record.
But the expected last-lap duel between Jebet and the clock became a bit more complex when Kenya’s world champion Hyvin Kiyeng started cutting into her lead.
Yes, Jebet was chasing history, but she was also under real pressure of being passed.
Over the final barrier, Kiyeng drew even closer, but she didn’t quite have enough in the tank to catch world junior champion Jebet, who remarkably is still only 19.
Jebet’s finishing time of 8:59.97 put her just outside of Gulnara Galkina’s world record of 8:58.81 but she set an Asian record and became just the second woman to run faster than nine minutes in the event.
Kiyeng was just 0.04 back in second place to set an African record of 9:00.01 and move up to third on the world all-time list. And while most of the attention was on the dramatic last 200 metres between Jebet and Kiyeng, after numerous other attempts in the past two seasons, Emma Coburn finished third and set a US record, clocking 9:10.67.
Bowie’s bend the key to victory
In one of the most anticipated match-ups of the meeting, Tori Bowie defeated Dafne Schippers and Elaine Thompson over 200m, the World Championships gold and silver medallists in Beijing last summer, on her way to a personal best and world-leading time of 21.99.
Bowie’s emphasis was on the curve.
“I tried to attack that bend because I always seem to make mistakes, like being a little lazy on the bend and letting my competitors get too much ahead of me so my main focus today was to attack this bend, don’t give them anything,” said Bowie, who also holds the 100m world lead at 10.80 from Doha earlier this month. "If they want the win, they are going to have to work for it."
The strategy paid off. Bowie held the advantage coming into the home straight and never relinquished it.
Schippers could not cut into the lead and finished second in 22.11 while Jamaica’s Thompson took third in 22.16.
Kevin Sully for the IAAF