Francena McCorory extended her winning streak in the 400m at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York on Saturday (13) while Tori Bowie destroyed the field in the 200m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York.
McCorory confirmed her early-season dominance in the 400m. The world indoor champion went away with a world-leading time and a meeting record of 49.86. It was also her third straight IAAF Diamond League victory of 2015, giving her 12 points and a four-point lead in the Diamond Race.
Another US sprinter, Natasha Hastings, led through the first half of the race but McCorory and Shaunae Miller of The Bahamas powered through the second bend. Miller couldn’t get close enough to McCorory to challenge her for the win, clocking 50.66 for second, while Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson finished third in 50.84.
“I definitely have the Diamond League victory in mind,” said McCorory. “And, of course, World Championships gold.”
Tori Bowie impressed in the 200m, clocking a season’s best of 22.23, despite a headwind of -2.8m/s. The US long-jumper-turned-sprinter was fast out of the blocks, ran a killer curve and powered through the home stretch virtually unchallenged.
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare opened her season in the 200m with 22.67, good for second place. Sherone Simpson from Jamaica finished third in 22.69.
Bolt walks away with a win and some homework to do
The men’s 200m, despite not being a Diamond Race event, was advertised as the highlight of the meeting with the world’s fastest man, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, in the starting line-up.
At the meeting’s press conference, the world and Olympic champion promised to run his first sub-20 race of the season, but the race didn’t go the way Bolt wanted it to.
The tall sprinter had a strong start, but coming off the curve he could already see a rival on his shoulder. It was Anguilla’s Zharnel Hughes.
Hughes has been training at the IAAF High Performance Training Center in Jamaica for several seasons, working with the Racers Track Club coaches alongside Bolt, using the titled athlete as his inspiration. But on the track, Bolt was no authority for the ambitious 19-year-old, as Hughes was almost matching Bolt’s straight down the home stretch.
Having finished a close second, Hughes waved his hand at Bolt, as if he was trying to say: “Watch out! I’m coming for you!”
Bolt clocked 20.29 in a -2.8m/s headwind, coming well short of his target. But the world record-holder didn’t blame the wind.
“It wasn’t a good race for me. I don’t know what happened,” he said. “I didn’t run a good bend. I have to go back and analyse this race. Based on what I’m doing in training and how I’m feeling, I should be running much faster times.”
Zharnel Hughes clocked 20.32, while another emerging Caribbean talent, Jamaica’s Julian Forte, placed third in 20.46.
There were no sub-10 times in the men’s 100m, but there was plenty of drama. Trinidad and Tobago’s Keston Bledman was disqualified for a false start but ran under protest.
Second time around, Bledman was quick out of the blocks. The fastest man in the field this season, USA’s Tyson Gay, caught up with him at the finish line and out-leaned him for the victory, 10.12 versus 10.13 into a headwind of -1.7m/s.
Bledman was disqualified but was later reinstated as a runner-up. Jamaican Nesta Carter ran 10.15 for third.
The participants of the women’s 100m, a non-Diamond Race event in New York, were among the few who were lucky with the wind. USA’s English Gardner took the victory in 11.00 (0.4m/s).
Culson and Oliver on the right track
Two-time world silver medallist Javier Culson had the strongest first half in the 400m hurdles, as usual. But this time the Puerto Rican was able to maintain his momentum through all 10 hurdles, picking up his first IAAF Diamond League victory of the year in a season’s best of 48.48.
Three other competitors ran faster than 49 seconds. South Africa’s LJ van Zyl clocked 48.78 for second, while The Bahamas’ Jeffery Gibson and Roxroy Cato from Jamaica both stopped the clock at 48.97 for third and fourth respectively.
World champion David Oliver bounced back from a defeat in the 110m hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic. The Diamond Race leader clocked 13.19 (-1.2 m/s) to finish ahead of US compatriot Jason Richardson, who ran 13.26. France’s Garfield Darien took third place in 13.32.
USA’s Sharika Nelvis has another solid performance under her belt with a confident victory in a non-Diamond Race 100m hurdles. Despite a headwind of -1.7m/s, she clocked 12.65 to beat Britain’s Tiffany Porter (12.81).
Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF