Season-Ending Glory Highlights Diamond League Final
September 16th, 2023
It starts in early December as the indoor season begins. It is a small-track competition that runs up to mid-March. It is soon followed by the outdoor season, a series of meets that can span the globe as the professional athletes begin to hone their craft in earnest. As summer emerges, so do the all-important trials for spots on international teams that will represent their respective countries in mid-summer meets. All-important global competitions soon follow as athletes seek to reach their peak performances. As the summer begins to fade, so do some of the athletes. For world-class athletes chasing glory, the professional track and field season can be punishing.
Notwithstanding the grind, one of the not-to-be-missed, late-season competitions is the Diamond League final – the last stop on a stream of international track & field gatherings that run from spring to early fall. This two-day track & field finale is called “The Olympics In Two Days.” This year’s zenith event is being held for the first time in the United States. Here is how global athletes around the world performed on the gleaming new facility in Eugene, Oregon, on Day One.
wJT: Japan’s Haruka Kitaguochi was the winner with a best mark of 63.78m/209’3” followed by New Zealand’s 61.30m/.201’1”. Finishing 3rd was Australia’s World Championship bronze medalist Mackenzie Little (61.24m/200’11”)
mTJ: Italy’s Andy Hernandez had the best triple jump with a hop, skip, and jump of 17.43m/57’2 ¼”. Finishing 2nd was Burma’s Hughs Zango with the best mark of 17.25m/56’ ¼” while USA’s Donald Scott took 3rd (16.84/55’3”)
mHJ: It was a rousing battle in the men’s high jump as Japan’s Woo Sanghyeok was the victor with a winning clearance of 2.35m/7’8½: – a lifetime best. Finishing in 2nd was Poland’s Norbert Kobielski with a personal best of 2.33m/7’¾” while USA JuVaughn took 3rd (2.33m/7’7¾”)
m:400H: It was an upset victory as USA’s Rai Benjaman (46.39) found an extra gear over the final two hurdles to pass Norway’s Karsten Warholm 46.53) and capture the win while British Virgin Island’s Kyron McMaster (47.31) took 3rd.
m400m: It was like old times in the men’s 400 meters. Granada’s Olympic champion Kirani James had the perfect game plan: running controlled and downshifting over the final 150 meters to cross the line in a season’s best of 44.30 for the win. The Americans went 2-3 as Quincy Hall finished 2nd (44.44) while Vernon Norwood – Mister Reliable – crossed in 44.61 to finish 3rd.
mJT: It was an upset win for Jakob Vadlejch of the Czech Republic. He got the spear out 84.24m/276’4” for the victory while reigning Olympic and World Championship gold medalist India’s Neeraj Chopra settled for 2nd (83.83m/274’11”)
wPV: It was a stirring up-and-down battle in the women’s pole vault. At various times in the competition, several competitors (Katie Moon, Sandi Morris, Wilma Murto, Tina Sutej) looked as if they could grab the win. But Moon – always a composed athlete in the tense situations – clinched the victory with a majestic 3rd attempt clearance as 4.86m/15’11¼” to seal the victory. 2nd was Slovenia’s Tina Sutej (4.81m/15’9¼” ) while Sandi Morris (4.71m/15’5½”) finished 3rd.
w3000mSC: The women’s steeple was a showcase for the Kenyans. The Kenyans got out quickly. And with 5 laps remaining, a bunched group of six Kenyans had a substantial lead on the rest of the field. As the race continued, four Kenyans fell off the pace. And with 2 laps remaining, it would be a shootout between reigning world champion Winfred Yavi and Beatrice Chepkoech. The duo engaged in a close struggle over the final two laps. But on this day, Yavi was the stronger, edging ahead on the homestretch to cross the line first in the winning time of 8:50.66, with Chepkoech a close 2nd in 8:51.67. Yavi’s personal best clocking also set a new African record, a new meet record, and a new world leader.
wTJ: This was Yulimar Rojas at her finest. Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts had the lead in the early going with the best mark of 14.69/ while Rojas (14.53/) lingered in the runner-up position. But in the 5th round, Rojas – who always seems to be at her best in the later rounds – uncorked a terrific jump of 15.35m/50’4½” to seize the lead. Her 5th round mark would prove to be the winner for Rojas, while Ricketts (15.03m/49’3¾”) grabbed the runner-up position.
w1500m: This was the Faith Kipyegon Show. As the other 12 athletes nervously readied themselves at the starting line, you could see they all new one thing: they would be racing for 2nd place. At the crack of the starter’s pistol, Kipyegon has been on a tear this outdoor season, setting new world records in the mile, the 1500, and the 5000 – tucked in behind the pacer who would lead the race for 800 meters in 2:05.26. When the pacer stepped off, Kipyegon accelerated. She flew the final 700 meters and crossed the line in the meet record time of 3:50.72. Ethiopia’s Dirbe Welteji finished 2nd in a personal best of 3:53.93 with Great Britain’s Laura Muir crossing next in 3:55.16. USA’s Corey McGee finished 10th in 4:01.28
m100m: The men’s 100-meter dash showcased a field of world-class sprinters. But everyone knew this event would likely be a two-man battle. Would Christian Coleman’s lightning start prevail? Or would Noah Lyles’ top-end speed run him down? At the crack of the gun, Coleman got that sure-fire start, but Lyles was closing fast. But, Nope. Not this day. Coleman hung on and got to the finish line first, his 9.83 clockings tying the world-best mark. Lyles, the reigning world champion, finished 2nd in 9.85, with Ferdinand Omanyala grabbing 3rd in 9.83.
wSP: USA’s Chase Ealey had a big day with a monster 3rd round heave of 20.76/68’1½”. Her winning mark was a personal best, a meet record, a world leader, and set a national record. USA’s Maggie Ewen finished 5th in 19.82m/65’½”
m3000mSC: This event took on a different hue with the absence of the reigning Olympic and world champion in this event: Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, The only American in the event was the opening pacer. The victor was Kenya’s Simon Koech, who took control of the race over the final kilometer, crossing the line first in 8:06.26. Ethiopia’s Samuel Firewu crossed 2nd in 8:10.74
w100m: The women’s 100-meter dash was a much-awaited event with a strong field. During the pre-race introductions, reigning world champion USA’s Sha’Carri Richardson – always a crowd-pleaser – strolled onto the track sporting a flowing, Diana Ross-like hairdo. The crowd loved it. But Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, the reigning 200-meter world champion, was all business. And it was time to get down into the blocks. The race was a quick and crowded blur as Jackson (10.70) hit the tape first, followed by Marie-Jose Ta Lou (10.75), Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (10.79), and with Richardson (10.80) finishing 4th. 7 of the 9 sprinters raced under 11.00 seconds.
The Bowerman Mile: This concluding race not only was the zenith of the day. It will long be remembered as one of the most memorable mile races ever. In the days leading up to the race, the word passed around suggested a world mile record could be plausible and that pacer splits were being assembled by Erik Sowinski and others to make such an assault feasible. When the race began, excitement grew as opening lap splits of 55.38, 56.29, and 56.06 excited the crowd and the athletes. At the bell (2:47.73), Norway’s Jacob Ingebrigtsen was in the lead, with USA’s Yared Nuguse close behind. Jakob hit the finish line first in an eye-popping 3:43.73, with Yared finishing strong in 3:43.97. Jakob’s winning time was only 0.60 behind the world record mark of 3:43.13 set by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1974. The #2 leading mark is 3:43.40, set by Noah Ngeny in 1978. Jakob is now #3, and Yared is now #4 on the all-time mile world list.
Can the concluding Day Two of this Diamond League final be compared to what we witnessed in Day One? I don’t know. But I sure want to find out…. / Dave Hunter /