The big guys took centre stage at the Prefontaine Classic and not surprisingly huge throws were the highlights of the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stanford on Sunday (30). The only surprise was who produced the fireworks.
The USA’s Ryan Crouser and New Zealand’s Tom Walsh have stolen the headlines this year with some early season monster heaves that have indicated that they are on target for the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. As Crouser noted at yesterday’s press conference: “Before 2016, there had never been a Diamond League that someone threw 22 and lost and now if you throw 22, you’re probably gonna lose.”
That proved to be prophetic, as not only did Crouser throw beyond 22 metres twice, he had the lead after the first two rounds. His 22.17m would normally be good enough to secure victory, but in round three, Brazil’s Darlan Romani unleased a record-breaking toss of 22.46m, smashing his own South American record of 22.00m set in 2018.
He wasn’t quite finished, as in round four he bettered that mark with 22.55m and finally in round five again, this time with 22.61m. He couldn’t keep his record-breaking streak alive in round six but he once again surpassed the 22-metre line with 22.37m. The average of his six throws was 22.26m.
Crouser would not better his 22.17m and ended up second. Walsh, who also had a foul-free series, maintained third position throughout and finished with 21.76m on his final throw. He was followed by Poland’s Michal Haratyk with 21.61m and USA’s Joe Kovacs (21.39m) and Darrell Hill (21.35m).
In the women’s event, Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd took the first-round lead, but from there on the shot ring belonged to China’s Gong Lijiao, who took the lead in round two with 19.46m and finished her day with 19.79m in the fifth round.
Thomas-Dodd would not improve her first-round effort and finished in second , with USA’s Chase Ealey taking third in 19.23m, while Olympic champion Michelle Carter finished a disappointing sixth with 18.21m.
Duplantis and Lasitskene on top
The men’s pole vault provided thrills for the 8,128 in attendance. Even though Sweden’s European champion Mondo Duplantis will for years to come be battling with the USA’s Sam Kendricks, many US fans feel that Duplantis is one of their own, given that his father was an acclaimed US pole vaulter.
The competition ended early for the majority of the competitors, leaving Kendricks and Duplantis to fight it out as they went on to higher heights. Both men had taken four jumps and had a clean slate going into 5.88m. But that is where Duplantis hit a road block. He would miss 5.88m while Kendricks cleared. The young Swede would pass his two remaining jumps and take his chances at 5.93m.
That strategy reaped rewards, as Duplantis – who missed his first attempt at 5.93m, leaving him with only one jump remaining – cleared 5.93m on his final attempt. It was then Kendricks’ game to lose, as he had two misses at 5.93m and then failed on his third after Duplantis’ clearance.
USA’s 2016 world indoor champion Vashti Cunningham has been on the brink of high jumping greatness her entire career, but a two-metre jump had so far eluded her. She achieved that goal today, but was still shy of victory as neutral athlete Mariya Lasitskene, the world and European champion, won with a clear card all the way through 2.04m.
Cunningham and Ukrainian teen sensation Yaroslava Mahuchikh both cleared 2.00m, with the US jumper taking second place on fewer misses. Mahuchikh’s compatriot Yuliya Levchenko finished fourth ahead of Sweden’s Erika Kinsey in fifth after both bowed out after clearing 1.95m.
Brian Russell for the IAAF