Smooth, swift and utterly supreme – that’s about the best way to describe Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s majestic display of one-lap running at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Saturday (26), the highlight of the 2018 edition of the IAAF Diamond League meeting.
Having raced over shorter distances in recent weeks, the Bahamian went off in conservative fashion over the first half of the women’s 400m, allowing world champion Phyllis Francis to build an early lead. But as she entered the final bend Miller-Uibo utilised her long stride, shifted through the gears and then powered away from her rivals, crossing the line in a world-leading 49.52.
“I feel like I’ve gotten really strong this year and the race just felt really great,” said Miller-Uibo. “There are some things to work on going forward but for this early in the season I will take that.”
That was more than a second clear of runner-up Francis, who clocked 50.81, narrowly ahead of Shakima Wimbley (50.84).
Lyles improves to 19.69
The men’s 200m produced an equally stunning performance from Noah Lyles, who on Friday had informed the media that he believed he was ready to run 19.7.
He was wrong, as it turned out, because the 20-year-old American went even faster, smashing his personal best to clock 19.69, the joint-fastest time in the world this year.
Lyles had a great target to chase around the bend in the shape of Isaac Makwala of Botswana, and the pair turned for home locked together out in front of the chasing pack. However, Makwala soon pulled up with injury, leaving Lyles at the front, alone, charging his way to the finish while maintaining astonishing relaxation, and indeed pace.
“Finishing is my strong suit,” said Lyles. “So when I came off and saw I was ahead of the pack I was really excited, and I knew this was going to be a fast time.”
Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago was a distant second in 20.05, with Aaron Brown of Canada third in 20.07.
Elsewhere, Ronnie Baker produced the fastest 100m of the year when clocking a wind-assisted 9.78 (+2.4m/s) to take victory in the non-scoring event.
Baker had trailed early in the race behind world indoor 60m champion Christian Coleman, but over the final 30 metres he reeled in his US compatriot, with Coleman having to settle for second in 9.84. Britain’s Reece Prescod continued his good form by taking third in 9.88, with China’s Su Bingtian fourth in 9.90.
Ta Lou takes 100m showdown
Marie-Josee Ta Lou continued her winning ways in the women’s 100m, coming from behind to beat fellow Ivorian Murielle Ahoure in a wind-legal 10.88 (+1.9m/s). Ahoure was close behind with 10.90, while Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica took third with 10.98.
Omar McLeod produced another flawless display in the men’s 110m hurdles, the Jamaican clocking 13.01 with the aid of a 3.1m/s tailwind. Neutral athlete Sergey Shubenkov took second with 13.08 while fan favourite Devon Allen, a graduate of the University of Oregon, took third with 13.13.
Jamaica also emerged victorious in the women’s 400m hurdles, where Janieve Russell left it late to take victory, moving from third to first after the last barrier to edge Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammmad of the US, 54.06 to 54.09.
Having challenged for the win in the home straight, Georganne Moline faded close home to finish third in 54.33.
Suhr and McCartney top 4.85m
In the field events, Jenn Suhr soared over a meeting record of 4.85m to take the women’s pole vault, and the US athlete had to be at her very best to repel the challenge of Eliza McCartney, who set a New Zealand record of 4.85m in second.
“It feels like it’s been a long time coming,” said McCartney. “I’ve been hitting these heights in training but thankfully the conditions were good today so it finally came out.”
Suhr was perfect over the opening heights of 4.60m and 4.70m, though McCartney had a first-time failure at the latter height, which in the end cost her. Both cleared 4.80m at the third attempt and 4.85m at the first attempt before failing three times at 4.90m. Sandi Morris edged Katie Nageotte to take third on countback, both clearing a best 4.70m.
Olympic champion Ryan Crouser re-established his dominance in men’s shot put, the Oregon native delighting the fans with a whopping fifth-round effort of 22.53m, which surpassed the meeting record of 22.43m he set last year.
Poland’s Michal Haratyk took second with 21.97m, just ahead of Brazil’s Darlan Romani (21.95m). World champion Tom Walsh of New Zealand was well below his best, his longest throw of 21.84m only enough for fourth.
Christian Taylor left it late – very late – to produce the goods in the men’s triple jump, but the two-time Olympic champion showed his clutch calibre in the final round to hand another defeat to Will Claye.
Taylor could only manage a best of 17.38m through the opening five rounds, which left him well in arrears of Claye when he took to the runway for the final jump, and despite the stiff headwind he faced (-1.3m/s), Taylor hop, skipped and jumped his way to the lead with 17.73m.
“This is my style, I like to put on a show,” said Taylor. “Will and I have been doing this since Florida days, so that back and forth I’m really familiar with. I was hoping for a little bit more, but it was a win and I can always be grateful for that.”
Claye held on for second with 17.46m, with Brazil’s Almir Dos Santos impressing in third with 17.35m.
Mutaz Essa Barshim continued his dominance in the men’s high jump, the 2017 Male Athlete of the Year showing impressive composure and confidence to bypass 2.34m and move straight to 2.36m while tied for the lead with neutral athlete Danil Lysenko, who had beaten Barshim to world indoor gold earlier this year.
Lysenko ended up failing three times at 2.34m, and though Barshim faltered twice at 2.36m, he made no mistake on his final attempt, going clear to take maximum points. Lysenko edged Yu Wang of China to second on countback, both with a best of 2.32m.
"I know I could have done the next height and I was really confident, but I secured the win," said Barshim.
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF