Two months after their historic performances in Doha, Christian Taylor and Pedro Pablo Pichardo provided a packed crowd at Lausanne’s Athletissima meeting with another stupendous night of IAAF Diamond League triple jumping on Thursday (9).
The US jumper reversed fortunes against his Cuban rival in winning with 18.06m – a meeting record and equal to the IAAF Diamond League record Pichardo set in Qatar. On that occasion, Taylor almost eclipsed the Cuban with his own final effort, only to fall two centimetres short.
Here, on a bright but blustery evening at the Stade De La Pontaise, Taylor’s late flourish proved to be a winning one. In many ways, it was an even better competition than the one in Doha for an event which promises to keep on giving to the sport over the next few years.
Pichardo made an electric start to the event, sprinting off excitedly into the infield after an effort of 17.85m which gave him a half-metre first-round lead.
The 25-year-old Olympic champion closed the gap in the second round with an effort of 17.76m, but one round later the 22-year-old from Santiago de Cuba was completing the same crazy circuit with an even greater zeal after lengthening his lead with a jump of 17.99m.
When Taylor fouled his fourth attempt, it looked as if, once again, he was going to have to accept honourable defeat by an inspired opponent.
But the 2011 world champion, his normally pleasant face set in deep concentration, found energy from somewhere to produce an effort that was enough to take him into the lead as he reached 18.02m, the second time he had passed the 18-metre barrier.
Pichardo, in emerald green, responded in turn with a huge effort which was ruled as a foul. The stare he gave the judges was almost scary in its intensity.
And then Taylor’s final effort added another four centimetres to the lead.
Pichardo did everything to raise the crowd support before his last jump of the competition, rousing them with his arms, cupping his hand to his ear. But on this occasion he couldn’t turn ambition into achievement as he mistimed his take-off and ran through his final effort.
“It was a great meet for me,” said Taylor. “I did a meet record and I improved on my personal best. I also had two jumps over 18 metres, which means I am getting more consistent at high levels. The goal right now is to keep on improving and to keep the triple jump as an exciting event this year.
“In Beijing I am looking forward to the competition. Pablo knows now that I am fit and ready. I also have my eye on the American record of 18.09m. My next meet is in Monaco – let’s see what happens!”
Who knows what their next meeting will bring. Between them, these two young athletes are taking their event into a new era of achievement.
This year, the javelin is another event that keeps on giving in the IAAF Diamond League.
After Julius Yego’s final flourish of 91.39m to win the Birmingham meeting last month, it was the turn of the surprise Olympic champion, Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott, to surprise here with an opening effort of 90.16m that was a national and meeting record.
After that throw, the chase was on – but nobody could match it. Vitezslav Veseley, the Czech Republic’s world champion, came closest with a third-round effort of 87.97m. Tero Pitkamaki of Finland was third with 87.44m.
Victory in the women’s discus here went not to the Diamond Race leader Sandra Perkovic, but to a Cuban thrower – as many had expected. But nobody expected it to be Yaimi Perez.
The 24-year-old 2010 world junior champion produced two personal bests, culminating in a fifth-round effort of 67.13m which settled matters after Perkovic, responding like the Olympic, world and European champion she is, had matched her second-round leading mark of 67.06m.
The main challenge to Perkovic had been expected to come from 25-year-old Denia Caballero, who produced a personal best of 70.65m in Bilbao on June 20 to lead this year’s world standings.
But although Caballero led with her first-round effort of 66.00m and followed it with some big fouls, she had to settle for third place.
Perkovic, unbeaten in her four IAAF Diamond League discus competitions this year, had arrived here knowing that one more win could secure her fourth consecutive Diamond Race victory.
But she couldn’t respond a second time to her young Cuban rival, and ended the competition with three fouls.
David Storl, leader of the Diamond Race in the men’s shot put, had a similarly competitive evening in prospect against six US throwers.
But the two-time world champion and part-time policeman knows how to lay down the law in the shot circle. After Joe Kovacs had surpassed Storl’s opening lead of 21.64m with 21.71m, the German responded in the fourth round with a stadium record of 22.20m, bettering the mark of 21.88m set by Ryan Whiting two years ago.
Not only was Storl's throw a personal best, it is also the best outdoor mark by a European thrower since Ulf Timmerman's victory at the 1988 Olympics.
Storl knew it was good as soon as he had released the shot, jumping backwards and clenching both of his fists. Four more points, and he leads Kovacs 14-10.
Tianna Bartoletta, fresh – or relatively so – from winning the US long jump title, continued in the same manner here as she maintained her Diamond Race lead thanks to a second-round effort of 6.86m.
Britain’s Shara Proctor came closest to it with a third-round effort of 6.79m, and third place went to Canada’s Christabel Nettey with 6.68m in swirling wind conditions which made jumping difficult to judge.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF