High jump world champion Mutaz Essa Barshim had to settle for second place at his home Diamond League meet on Friday, even as Team Qatar athlete Femi Ogunode booked himself an Olympic spot in the men’s 100m and many a world lead marks were breached across track and field disciplines.
Early on in the evening, in a 100m ‘B’ race, Ogunode, who ran an Asian record of 9.91s back in 2015, clocked 10 seconds to top the charts, dipping under the Tokyo Olympics standard of 10.05 sec. With this, the former Asian champion became the sixth track and field athlete from Qatar to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the others being Barshim, Abderrahman Samba (men’s 400m hurdles), Abubaker Haydar Abdalla (men’s 800m), and Adam Ali Musab and Abdirahman Saeed Hassan (men’s 1500m).
Barshim had beaten the bar in the high jump event on each of his attempts till he cleared 2.30m at Qatar Sports Club yesterday. He then brushed the bar at 2.33m as Russian Ilya Ivanyuk, the 2019 Doha Worlds bronze medallist, cleared the height on his first attempt.
The two-time world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Barshim chose to attempt 2.36 but couldn’t clear it handing Ivanyuk a win.
“It was good, not so good, but I’ll say okay,” Barshim said after his efforts. “My target is definitely Tokyo, and so I will be working for the next competition. My target in Tokyo is to win; not necessarily to break a record, but to win.”
Jamaican sprint great Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, fourth at the rain-soaked Diamond League opener in Gateshead five days ago, ran a season’s best 10.84sec to win the women’s 100m sprint, edging out Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (10.90) and Javianne Oliver (11.03).
“I’m happy that I put together a good race, and of course I’m happy that I won, because it’s far away from the 4th place that I did the last time,” the nine-time Worlds gold medallist said after the win. “I’m excited about this season (and) I’m progressing.”
The 34-year-old has said that the Worlds in Eugene next year will be her final appearance, making the Tokyo Games that much more special as she bids to become the first female athlete to win three Olympics 100m golds.
“It’s going to be the final Olympic appearance so I hope it will be good. The last three Olympics I went to I was able to stand on the podium, and I’m hoping to be able to make it there again, God willing,” said Fraser-Pryce.
One half of the sub-47 second quartet in the men’s 400m hurdles faced off against each other yesterday only for American Rai Benjamin, who held the world lead of 47.13 coming into the event, to clock a meet record 47.38 for the victory. The 2019 World bronze medallist Samba, running the discipline for the first time this season, had to settle for fourth with 48.26 seconds, as Alison dos Santos (47.57) of Brazil and Kyron McMaster (47.82) of British Virgin Islands finished second and third respectively.
In 400m flat, American Michael Norman set a world leading time of 44.27sec for a victory.
Kenyan world champion Timothy Cheruiyot shaved off almost two seconds from Qatari Adam Ali Musab’s world lead time to win the men’s 1500m with a 3:30.48 yesterday. Musab had booked a Tokyo spot with a 3:32.41 at Aspire in February, but finished down the order as Cheruiyot ran a 3:30.48 for the win.
Australia’s Stewart McSweyn was second in 3:31.57, while Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco ran a personal best 3:31.95 for his third place.
“I tell my fans thank you for always supporting me. It was a very good race, anyone could have won. My next focus is Monaco,” Cheruiyot said.
Katie Nageotte, travelling to Doha on the back of a world-leading personal best 4.93m effort at home in the US on Sunday, edged out the women’s pole vault World indoor champion Sandi Morris on countback after both of them were locked at meet record 4.84m and neither could clear 4.90m.
Britain’s Holly Bradshaw edged 2019 Diamond League winner Katerina Stefanidi out of the top three on countback as four athletes were tied at 4.74m.
Venezuelan world champion Yulimar Rojas eventually needed just one attempt to take the win in the women’s triple jump. A meet record 15.15m was enough for the victory as the Jamaican duo of Kimberly Williams and Shanieka Ricketts were completed the top three.
“I’m satisfied and happy with the results, and the hard work. We are on the right path, so I feel good physically and it’s good for me. I’m happy to leave a footprint here in Doha,” Rojas said. “When it is Tokyo’s turn, I’ll be prepared and I’ll try to win the gold medal.”
Barely a centimetre and 0.01 seconds separated the men’s 200m winner Kenneth Bednarek of the US and second-placed Andre de Grasse of Canada. Both ran their season’s best as Bednarek won in 19.88 sec to De Grasse’s 19.89 for a thrilling victory.
“I felt good but I was a bit nervous. But (now) I’m excited that I got in the first place. I’ll try to be even better again the next time,” Bednarek said.
Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Kipyegon stepped down in distance to contest the 800m yesterday, and won in a time of 1:58.26, with Jamaican Natoya Goule (1:59.70) and Moroccan Rababe Arafi (1:59.83) finishing second and third respectively.
Yaime Perez returned to the city of her world title to win the women’s discus throw. Hitting the Final 3 with Valarie Allman of the US and Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic, a 61.35m effort earned the Cuban eight Diamond League points, while Allman finished second with 58.58m, even as a Perkovic no-throw kept her in third place.
There was an upset in the final Diamond League event of the evening — women’s 3,000m — as Beatrice Chebet ran a world-leading personal best of 8:27.49 to lead a Kenyan top 5 sweep, with world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri settling for fourth. Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi (8:28.27) and Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (8:28.96) were second and third respectively.
The 14-meet Diamond League series now heads to Rome/Florence on June 10
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