01 October, 2017

Redemption Games

The title of this post is not mine. Mike Rowbottom, writing for the IAAF site used it in order to qualify the Diamond League final. The redemption he was referring was that of favourites who failed to shine at the World Championships a month earlier. While following the Diamond league final I had the same feeling: many athletes who failed (well, sort of) at the World's managed to take their revenge at the Diamond League. And thus I decided to use his title for this post.

So, what was my greatest disappointment in London? If you have been following this blog you cane easily guess it. That was the no-medal of I. Spanovic in women's long jump. She took her revenge in Brussels although her performance there was rather below-par. But the three world medalists finished 5th, 7th and 4th respectively so I guess this is OK.

I. Spanovic winning at the Diamond League

The other favourite who missed out on a gold medal was C. Ibargüen in women's triple jump but she did even worse in Zürich finishing third. This year has not been a particularly good one for Ibargüen and I just hope that she will not end her career with a low note. 

On the other hand the two female jump world champions defended her titles with brio and if we can talk about redemption this can only be the fact that this time S. Morris lost to Stefanidi on count-back at a decent 4.87 m.

K. Stefanidi dominated completely women's pole vault

Men's jump's on the other hand were uneventful, all world champions winning the diamond trophy.

In men's javelin throw J. Vadlejch, second in London for a mere 16 cm, won in Zürich the bad surprise for myself being the third place of T. Pitkämäki. When is he going to retire? A partial redemption at men's discus throw for F. Dacres of Jamaica who finished second behind the world champion Gudzius, London's favourite Stahl, who lost there for just 2 cm, managing just a 7th place in Brussels. But the biggest surprise was the victory of D. Hill in men's shot put, with a 22.44 m throw at his last effort: he had finished just 11th in London.

D. Hill winning in Brussels' Place de la Monnaie

Just as in the case fo men's jumps, women's throws did not reserve any surprise the world champions winning also in the Diamond League. (Still I must voice my disappointment for the lacklustre performance of Y. Pérez in women's discus, who after finishing 4th in London could only manage a 7th place in Brussels).

For the track events things were somewhat complicated since the Brussels meeting included some non-Diamond League events in the program. Thus while Y. Blake and L. Santos won the 100 m and 400 m respectively that did not count towards the diamond. The winner of the last race was I. Makwala who had not been allowed to participate at the World's final, taking thus his revenge. Had the world vice-champion S. Gardiner not slipped and fallen at the start we would have watched a great fight and perhaps an even better performance. 

Makwala celebrating his Diamond League vistory

N. Amos won the men's 800 m after missing out on the medals in London. The World's vice-champion T. Cheruiyot prevailed over the champion, E. Manangoi, but the London pre-race favourite, A. Kiprop did not manage to redeem himself in Zürich, finishing 4th. The most exciting race was undoubtedly the 5 km one where M. Farah took his revenge over M. Edris. This time Farah did not let himself be boxed in and took quite some risk launching an early sprint.

A photo-finish redemption-victory for Farah

The podium of the 3000 m steeplechase was identical to the one of the World's, while in the 110 m hurdles S. Shubenkov was promoted to the first place in the absence of the world champion O. McLeod. K. McMaster redeemed himself in the 400 m hurdles race beating the world champion. Much as I admire K. Warholm (who improved his personal record in that race) I think that McMaster's technique is better and this could make a difference in the future. (And a funny remark. When I looked up McMaster's best performance over the 400 m flat I could only find a 3 year old one of 48.10 s. Since his 400 m hurdles best is 47.80 s this is the first case where I've seen somebody have a better time in the hurdles. I know, I know. He ran in 48.10 s when he was just seventeen. He is probably worth a 45 s now).

K. McMaster, the new 400 m hurdles great talent

Women's track events were even more interesting than the men's ones. E. Thompson won the 100m (just barely, for a meagre 100th of the second) over M.-J. TaLou, thus redeeming herself after her stinging defeat in London. 

E. Thompson winning the Diamond League 100 m

But for whom the word redemption is most appropriate it's none other than S. Miller. After going home from London with just a bronze medal she dominated both the 200 m with 21.88 s, beating Thompson, TaLou and (world champion) Schippers and the 400 m with 49.46 s pushing along S. Naser (the world vice-champion) to her first below 50 time (49.88 s).

S. Miller deminated both the 200 and 400 m

The 800, 1500 and 5000 m races were won by the world champions, with the well-known troika of Semenya, Niyonsaba and Wambui trusting the podium places of the former race. There was no possible redemption for K. Harrison in the 100 m hurdles, as she had not qualified for the Diamond League final and S. Pearson confirmed her world title with a diamond victory. D. Muhammad and Z. Hejnova took a relative revenge in the 400 m but where we can talk about a real redemption it's in the 3000 m steeplechase. World record holder and pre-championship favourite R. Jebet had finished in a disappointing 5th place in London. In Zürich she won with the second best performance of all times pushing along B. Chepkoech to a sub-9 time.

I like the style of E. Chepkoech (here at the Rio Olympics)

And in case you were wondering, hammer throw has its own special, non-Diamond League, challenge, which was won, quite expectedly by the world champions A. Wlodarczyk and P. Fajdek.

If you are interested in the details of the 2017 Diamond League, you can find here a summary (on the IAAF's site).

No comments:

Post a Comment