Tom Walsh in the shot put at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Tom Walsh went into Zurich’s Weltklasse meeting knowing that he had to stay ahead of world champion Joe Kovacs to win the Diamond Race. The New Zealander comfortably achieved his goal, winning the shot put with an Oceanian record of 22.20m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting on Thursday (1).
Olympic champion Ryan Crouser took an early lead with 21.45m, while Walsh opened with 20.73m. The Olympic bronze medallist moved into second place after throwing 21.12m in round two, but he was just getting started.
Crouser extended his lead with 21.92m in the third round, but Walsh responded with 22.20m, adding 20 centimetres to the Oceanian record he set last week in Paris.
Crouser came back with 22.00m in round four and 21.66m in the final round, but that wasn’t enough to catch the world indoor champion, who secured the Diamond Trophy.
“The Diamond Race rankings were very close before tonight, so I’m very happy I managed to win here with a PB,” said Walsh.
It was just the second time in the past 27 years that two men had thrown 22 metres or more in the same outdoor competition. Walsh now moves to equal 17th on the world all-time list, tied with two-time world champion David Storl and three-time world champion John Godina.
More Diamonds for Lavillenie and Perkovic
Three other field events in Zurich had the full set of Olympic medallists competing, but in each of them the Diamond Race was a foregone conclusion.
Renaud Lavillenie had already done enough to win a history-making seventh Diamond Trophy, but in a rematch with Olympic champion Thiago Braz and Olympic bronze medallist Sam Kendricks, the pole vault world record-holder didn’t take it easy.
Lavillenie moved into pole position with a first-time clearance at 5.78m, while Kendricks needed three attempts and Braz passed. His lead was short-lived, though, as Kendricks needed just one attempt to clear 5.84m while Lavillenie required two.
Braz also got over 5.84m on his second try, but retired from the competition soon after, eventually finishing third.
Kendricks and Lavillenie, meanwhile, both went on to clear 5.90m on their second attempts before bowing out with three misses each at 6.01m. The pair decided to share victory on the night as both had the same number of failures prior to 5.90m, both men agreeing not to embark on a jump-off, with Lavillenie winning the Diamond Race.
Three-time world champion Brittney Reese gained revenge on the woman who beat her to the Olympic long jump title, Tianna Bartoletta, to achieve her first victory at the Weltklasse meeting since 2011.
Olympic bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic went out to 6.93m in the first round to take an early lead, while Reese opened with 6.75m, which was enough to stay in the top four after three rounds. After recording fouls on her second and third attempts, Reese sailed out to 6.95m in round four to take the lead.
Spanovic consolidated her series with 6.90m in round five, but aborted her last attempt. Although Reese won on the night, Spanovic had already done enough before the competition to win the Diamond Race.
Russia’s Darya Klishina was third with 6.63m, while Bartoletta finished sixth with a modest best of 6.51m.
The same three women who stood on the podium in Rio finished in exactly the same order tonight in the discus.
Most of the rest of the field struggled to throw beyond 60 metres but two-time Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic improved with each round. The Croatian opened with 64.23m, threw 66.57m in round two and 67.98m in round four before ending her series with a sixth-round throw of 68.44m.
Olympic silver medallist Melina Robert-Michon threw 63.91m in the fifth round to move from fourth to second place. World champion and Olympic bronze medallist Denia Caballero was third with 62.80m.
Having won all seven of her IAAF Diamond League appearances in 2016, Perkovic now becomes the first woman to win five Diamond Race titles.
Taylor and Beitia simply too good
Olympic champions Christian Taylor and Ruth Beitia both retained their Diamond Race titles in the triple jump and high jump respectively.
Taylor – who had said before the competition that he has learned to produce big jumps even when there’s no pressure – took the lead in the second round with 17.34m and then went out to a meeting record of 17.80m in the fifth round.
On a night when everyone else struggled to jump beyond 17 metres, Guyana’s Troy Doris took second place with 17.01m.
Beitia was also a class apart. The Spaniard led throughout, clearing each one of her heights on her first attempt. Her clearance at 1.96m was enough to win, so she then upped the bar to a would-be world-leading height of 2.02m. Her first attempt was the closest, but she brought down the bar on all three tries.
Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch inflicted another post-Rio defeat on Germany's Olympic javelin champion Thomas Rohler.
Rohler opened his series with 86.56m, which remained the leading mark until Vadlejch sent his spear out to 87.28m in round four.
Although both men threw beyond 85 metres in the fifth round, neither improved with their final attempts. It meant that Vadlejch bagged 20 points for the victory, moving him ahead of Rohler in the Diamond Race.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF