Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim seemed to be flying in the men’s high jump final of Suzhou Diamond League meeting in China on Saturday until he erred at 2.31m and moved straight to 2.33 before choosing to call it a day and save himself for the Doha leg in preparation for the forthcoming Paris 2024 Olympics.
The 32-year-old Olympic and world champion Barshim’s decision to settle for second place was a wise call given the bigger goals he’s set for himself.
In comparatively cooler conditions to that of the Xiamen meeting last week, Barshim began at 2.20m in the eleven-man competition and went on to also clear 2.24, 2.27 and 2.29 – all in his first attempts.
World indoor champion Hamish Kerr of New Zealand, who emerged winner, began at 2.16 needed a jump extra to clear 2.24 and 2.27, and later 2.31 which set the battle between him and Barshim.
Unable to get past 2.31 in two attempts, Barshim moved to 2.33 before calling it a day after one attempt. Kerr too had two attempts at 2.33 but without success.
Speaking soon after, Barshim said: “I loving coming back to compete here, and it was a nice week. This is an important season for me and I am really looking forward the next competition. I really love Suzhou and enjoyed it with my wife here. The fans are very supportive and encouraged me a lot.
“Compared to the last meeting in Xiamen, the weather is way better. Due to the rain (In Xiamen) I was really concerned and I did not want to push myself too hard because I did not want to be injured and ruin my season. The Olympics is the goal with my next competition in Doha in two weeks,” he added.
Kerr, who rebounded after his third place in Xiamen, said, “It was great to get the win. I’ve been working on a few technical things so for that to work out tonight, I’m stoked. It wasn’t perfect through 2.24m, 2.27m tonight but I stayed patient and that is the most pleasing thing. Just to be out there with these who I really look up to like Barshim and to beat them, I still have to pinch myself. This gives me a lot of confidence going into the season ahead.”
Turner Vernon of USA was third with a best jump of 2.27.
Duplantis sails to victory, Simbine beats Coleman
Sweden’s Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis dominated the men’s pole vault, going close to bettering his own world record set last week. The reigning Olympic champion, who cleared 6.24m in Xiamen for his eighth world record mark, wrapped up the win in Suzhou with a meet record of 6.00m.
The bar was immediately raised to 6.25m, but it proved too much for the US-born Duplantis, who failed three times at the height, albeit going close on his final effort. “There’s always a little bit of a crash after a huge performance like that, like I had last week, but I still felt good today, of course,” Duplantis said. “I knew I was going to have to push a little bit harder, it wasn’t going to come as natural as last week because that’s just kind of the nature of how it feels. I felt a little bit flat today, but still really good. I just feel that conditions have to be perfect for me to jump a world record and I wasn’t quite feeling it off the runway tonight,” he said.
World 100m champion Sha’Carri Richardson suffered another upset in the women’s 200m, with the American coming in third at 23.11 seconds behind Briton Daryll Neita’s winning 22.62 and the USA’s Anavia Battle’s 22.99.
South Africa’s Akani Simbine won the men’s 100 metres in 10.01sec ahead of American Christian Coleman. “I expected a better performance but I am fine with today’s result which I achieved my SB today,” said newly-crowned world indoor 60m champion Coleman, who won the blue riband event in Xiamen.
Simbine added: “With Coleman, you just need to know that he’s going to come out, (you have to) just stick to the arranged plan, focus on your own race.”
Fred Kerley, the 2022 world champion and Olympic silver medallist, rounded out the podium in 10.11sec. Nigeria’s world record holder Tobi Amusan was disqualified from the women’s 100m hurdles after a false start, with Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico awarded first place in 12.63sec in a photo finish. Ethiopia’s Mekedes Alemeshete claimed victory in the women’s 5,000m and took the world lead.
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