Renaud Lavillenie in the pole vault at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco (© Philippe Fitte)
Renaud Lavillenie and Sandra Perkovic are two of the most dominant athletes in IAAF Diamond League history. Both were coming off rare losses in Lausanne, but rebounded at Monaco’s Herculis meeting on Friday (17).
Despite being beaten in Paris and Lausanne, Lavillenie adopted his tried-and-tested tactics of opening up late in the competition. Seven men were still in the competition with the bar at 5.82m, but Lavillenie cleared that height at the first time of asking to go straight into the lead, tied with world indoor champion Konstantinos Filippidis.
USA’s Sam Kendicks and 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski also cleared that height on their first tries. Kendricks failed at 5.87m, while the other two men skipped straight to 5.92m. Lavillenie once again got over it on his first attempt, but Filippidis and Wojciechowski bowed out.
Lavillenie then moved the bar to 6.02m, a would-be meeting record, but it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, the Olympic champion was happy to be back on top.
“I never doubted myself, but to start winning again is great,” he said. “I felt in shape to clear six metres, but I’m in great shape and ready for Beijing.”
While Lavillenie’s win came easy, Perkovic had to work hard for hers in the discus.
The world and Olympic champion opened with 62.37m, then followed it with three fouls. With just two attempts left, she was down in fourth place and needed to better Dani Samuels’ 65.20m which led at the time.
And then it all clicked. Perkovic’s discus flew out to 66.80m; a mark which no one else was able to match. Samuels improved by one centimetre in the final round, but still trailed Perkovic by more than a metre.
Perkovic now has an unassailable lead in the Diamond Race. She needs only to compete in the IAAF Diamond League final later in the year to secure her fourth Diamond trophy.
Despite winning in Lucerne last week, few would have predicted that Candyce McGrone could have notched up another 200m victory, given the quality of field she was up against in Monaco.
Running scared in lane eight, she was always in contention, but the focus was on the athletes in the middle lanes, European champion Dafne Schippers and USA’s Jeneba Tarmoh.
It was close between McGrone and Schippers on the line, but the US sprinter was awarded victory in a personal best of 22.08, just 0.01 ahead of Schippers. In third, Tarmoh set a PB of 22.23.
Since winning the javelin in Doha at the start of the season, Finland’s Tero Pitkamaki hadn’t won at any of the other IAAF Diamond League meetings. But the 2007 world champion put that right tonight in Monaco.
He led from the outset, opening with 84.97m before improving to 88.87m in the fourth round, a mark no one could get within three metres of. Pitkamaki passed his final two attempts, having felt some tightness in his groin during warm-up.
World champion Vitezslav Vesely was second with 85.44m with Czech compatriot Jakub Vadlejch moving into third with his penultimate throw, 84.32m. The season’s two 90-metre throwers, Keshorn Walcott and Julius Yego, finished fourth and sixth respectively with marks of 83.54m and 81.79m.
The US dominance of sprint hurdles was perfectly illustrated in Monaco as the athletics powerhouse filled the top five spots in the women’s 100m hurdles.
After some temporary confusion over a possible false start, the race got away at the second time of asking. World leader Sharika Nelvis, having been beaten in her past three races, looked back to her best, winning in 12.46, her fastest time outside of the US and just 0.04 away from Gail Devers’ meeting record.
NCAA champion Kendra Harrison, competing in her first race as a professional, finished second in 12.52, just 0.02 outside her PB. World champion Brianna Rollins set a season’s best of 12.56, while Jasmin Stowers ran the same time in fourth place. Despite clocking 12.58, Diamond Race leader Dawn Harper Nelson finished fifth.
At last week’s European Under-23 Championships, world indoor champion Maria Kuchina failed to clear 1.81m, but the Russian was back on top form in Monaco. She was the only athlete to record first-time clearances up to and including 1.97m, a height which Ruth Beitia and Anna Chicherova cleared on their second attempts.
Kuchina then got over 2.00m on her second try to equal her outdoor PB before bowing out with two tries at 2.02m.
Elsewhere, Ivana Spanovic won the long jump with a first-round leap of 6.87m, and Bershawn Jackson notched up his third IAAF Diamond League win of 2015, winning the 400m hurdles in 48.23.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF