Christian Taylor and Elaine Thompson were among few Olympic champions to produce some of their best form as the first of two Diamond League finals decided the overall standings. Their marks of 17.80m and 21.85 stood out alongside those of Caster Semenya’s 1:56.44, Ruth Jebet’s 9:07.00 and Tomas Walsh’s 22.20m as some of the highlights, while Britain’s Laura Muir took the Diamond Race despite a narrow loss.
At the end of their long season and with the major championships in the past, athletes generally were past their peak as series points clearly mattered more than top-draw performances. Fourteen “Diamond Race” winners – those who scored the most points in their events overall in the series – were decided in Zurich, with the remainder of the disciplines being staged at Brussels on Sept. 9. At stake was a top overall series prize of $40,000 for each event.
Thompson set a Diamond League record of 21.85 as she was just seven hundredths outside her world lead in the 200m – after pipping Dafne Schippers into second by one hundredth.
The Jamaican added to her win in Rio with a late charge as, unusually, it was the fast-finishing Dutchwoman who ran the best bend. Behind Schippers, who ran her quickest time of 2016 and took the Diamond Race, American Allyson Felix was third with 22.02. Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith was fourth with 22.38 – 0.07 off her fastest this summer.
In the triple jump, with Troy Doris of Guyana (17.01m) the only other athlete over 17 meters, Taylor’s fifth-round effort of 17.80m was easily enough for the win and the series title. That was just six centimeters short of the American’s world lead.
From the point of view of British athletics supporters, the appearance of Muir in the 1500m was the most eagerly anticipated. On the points standings, it was between the British world No.1 and the Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon for the Diamond Race.
In echoes of Paris five days earlier, when Muir’s attacking tactics paid off with that British record, she followed closely behind pacemaker Jenny Meadows, who led through 400m in 62.59 seconds and 800m in 2:08.10. However, the rest responded better on this occasion and did not allow her to get away.
Kipyegon, beaten by Muir in that race in Paris, took over with 500m to go, but Muir hung on and came past. But it was American Shannon Rowbury who squeezed through on Muir’s inside in the dying strides, crossing the line in 3:57.78.
Muir’s time of 3:57.85 represented the third occasion this season that she has run below Kelly Holmes’ former British record. Kipyegon would have needed to have placed only top-five to deny Muir the series win, but she faded to seventh.French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie knew he also would just have to turn up to gain what was for him a seventh consecutive Diamond title, extending his record tally. In the end, his 34th Diamond League meeting win was shared with American Sam Kendricks as both had a best of 5.90m and were equal on failures. Brazil’s Olympic champion Thiago Braz was third with 5.84m.
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