Saturday, September 1, 2018

Brussels Diamond League

 The Rest of the Stories

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, All Rights Reserved

I’ve covered the men’s 5,000m in last night’s post and have now updated it to include 400m splits, courtesy of Track and Field News. Additional key information is that 18 year old Selemon Barega’s 12:43.02 is indeed a world junior/U20 record.


The Diamond League portion of the Brussels meet got underway Friday with the women’s discus, and the throwers played to a modest house. Unlike Zurich the night before, this was not a sellout, and the stands filled more slowly in the sun-splashed early evening. Sandra Perkovic lost unexpectedly.

It was Cuban Jaime Perez for the win in a modest 65.00 (213-3) while Brazil’s Andressa de Morais - who had previously been a regional star - made a big splash internationally by finishing 2nd. This was Perkovic’s first loss of the year; so dominant has she been that she was going for her 7th consecutive Diamond League title. Instead, she finished 3rd. The men’s discus followed, with Jamaica’s Fredrik Dacres the champion in 68.67 (225-3).

An amusing moment came during pole vault introductions on the homestretch of the track. The template for this is that your name is called, everyone applauds as you walk out, then you turn and wait for the remainder of your fellow competitors to be introduced and you salute them.

Apparently, no one gave Armand Duplantis the script. Mondo - wearing his LSU kit - came out, gave high fives all around, and headed for the vault, leaving fellow competitors behind.

“Hey, Mondo!” could be heard from several of his compatriots, all in good fun. Much to his embarrassment, he turned around, a bit red-faced this time, and rejoined his pole vaulting posse.

This was not his night, as the European Champion finished 7th while Zurich railroad station champ Timur Morganov (Rus) won for the second time in three nights. Sam Kendricks (US) was second with Canada’s resurgent Shawnacy Barber 3rd. Barber has reinvented himself in just three days.

A popular winner in the women’s non-DL high jump was Belgium’s World and Olympic heptathlon champion, Nafissatou Thiam. Australia’s Brandon Starc was a surprise winner of the men’s high jump. A memorable time for vertical leap fans came when the men’s and women’s high jumps and the men’s pole vault were al being conducted simultaneously.

There was a brief interruption in the proceedings as this year’s inductees into the IAAF Hall of Fame were introduced. Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey (sprints), Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj (1500/5000), and Belgium’s Kim Gaevert (sprints) and Tia Tillebault (high jump) were introduced to a warm welcome from the appreciative hometown crowd.

Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo won the 200m against a deep and experienced field. Dafne Schippers (Ned) blasted out of the blocks but was overtaken by Miller-Uibo down the stretch, 22.12-22.53. It was surprising that Schippers’ result was allowed to stand as she clearly ran out of her lane (on the inside lane line) just as she competed the curve and moved into the straightaway.

Also with a textbook start was 100m star Christian Coleman (US), back from injury in a big way – a 9.79 dusting of an outstanding field, equal 7th all-time. If only he hadn’t been injured during the heart of the season…

Great Britain’s Lyndsey Sharp, who, as writer Dave Hunter pointed out, was the only sub-2:00 minute runner in the exhibition 800m field, won in 1:59.93 – fittingly, the only time under 2:00.

Emmanuel Korir (1:44.72) continued his dominance of the 800m; there was no doubt as to who was king on Friday as he won by almost half a second.

Great Britain’s Laura Muir (3:58.49) won the highly anticipated women’s 1500 over Shelby Houlihan (US), while Siffan Hassan finished her two-day 5000/1500 double with a sub-4:00 effort in 3rd.

Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov continued his mastery of the men’s hurdles (12.97), while Brianna McNeal (US) edged teammate Kendra Harrison 12.61-12.63, with Jamaica’s Danielle Williams another hundredth behind.

Bahrain’s Salwa Nasser flew from the Asian Games in Jakarta to Brussels with travel time variously reported at 14-16 hours. This deterred her little as she won the 400m going away in 49.33, with 2017 World Champion Phyllis Francis second in 50.51 – a remarkable margin of victory of 1.18 for Nasser.

Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo had only two fair jumps in the triple jump, but his 4th round 17.49 (57-4 ¾) was enough to get the better of Christian Taylor (US), who has divided his time between the 400m and the TJ this year.

Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen pulled off the horizontal leaps double by winning the long jump in Brussels the day after winning the triple in Zurich. She edged Great Britain’s Shara Proctor by 10cm in winning with her 4th round jump of 6.80 (22-3 ¾).

China’s Lijiao Gong won the “street shot put” – so named because it was held in a street near the Brussels UNESCO Heritage site, Le Grand Place. Her 5th round 19.83 (65-¾) proved to be the winner over Raven Saunders’ (US) 19.64.

The women’s steeplechase was loaded once again, and Kenya’s world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech set a meet record in winning in 8:55.10. She went out fast early but stuttered stepped 8-9 times approaching a hurdle midway through the race, which slowed her momentum just enough to stop thoughts of another world record.

Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs were off-pace early and finished 4th and 6th, respectively, in 9:06.51 and 9:07.07. In a sense, they had a great match race of their own.

All those who thought we’d see the day when two US steeplers running 9:06 and 9:07 would be perceived as their having an off day, please stand up.

That’s what I thought.

China's Lijiao Gong, Diamond League Shot Put Champion

Photo courtesy of Diamond League Brussels

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