If there was any sliver of doubt left as to who is the premier female sprinter of the moment, little can remain after the performance of double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson in Shanghai this evening (Saturday, 13 May).
The Jamaican, who cruised to a comfortable 200m victory over world champion Dafne Schippers in Doha last weekend, left a world class 100m field in her wake at the second Diamond League meeting of 2017 when she blazed across the line in 10.78 seconds.
“When I look back at my races I surprise myself with how fast I run,” Thompson had said the day before the race.
She will certainly have a surprise in store when she reviews the tape of this race, for she stopped the clock just 0.08s outside her personal best to become the first woman this year to go under 10.80.
“I made a great start and I was able to bring it home,” said the 24-year-old. “I am pleased with the time although I wasn’t that explosive from the blocks.
“From here it is all about preparing for the rest of the season and the World Championships,” added Thompson who is yet to decide if she will double up in London.
Olympic silver medallist Tori Bowie was forced to play second fiddle again to the dominant Jamaican, the American running 11.04 with Marie-Josée Ta Lou in third.
Faith first of four more world leads
Thompson wasn’t the only woman in world leading form this evening, as Faith Kipyegon became the first woman this year to break four minutes for 1500m as she held off Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia.
The Olympic champion was never troubled as she followed pacemaker Jenny Meadows through 800m in 2:11.44 before kicking on to victory in 3:59.22.
And Shaunae Miller-Uibo was the first to break 50 seconds in the 400m, the Olympic champion repeating her Shanghai victory from last year in 49.77. The Bahamian led for the whole circuit and strode across the line a full four-tenths ahead of the fast-finishing American, Natasha Hastings.
While it was a welcome return for her and Kipyegon, there was no victorious comeback for David Rudisha. The world and Olympic champion finished fifth on his Shanghai debut last year and improved to third this time as two of his countrymen overtook him on the home straight.
It was Kiyegon Bett who pulled clear to win in 1:44.70 with Robert Biwott dipping ahead of the fading Rudisha on the line.
“I’ve have had a different build up with not running in Australia this year and it was my first race of the season” reflected Rudisha. “I ran a 1:45, which shows me where I’m at and it is something to build on.”
Rudisha’s compatriot Helen Obiri was in a more jubilant mood after she moved a couple of places up the 5000m world all-time list to sixth. The Olympic silver medallist took three seconds from her personal best to win in 14:22.47, easily the quickest in the world this year.
Obiri never looked troubled as she ran away from Ethiopia’s world silver medallist Senbere Tesferi of Ethiopia.
The surprise of the night came in the men’s 200m where 19-year-old Noah Lyles, a two-times world junior champion, went under 20 seconds for the first time in his young career.
The man from Virginia is tipped as USA’s next Olympic sprint champion, and he looked every bit the part this evening as he outran a string of Rio Olympic finalists to equal Wayde van Niekerk’s world lead of 19.90.
It says much for Lyles talent that the former world and Olympic 400m champion, LaShawn Merritt, was left some two metres behind with Olympic fourth placer Adam Gemili third.
There was joy for the home crowd too as Xie Zhenye broke his own national record finishing fifth in 20.40.
Manyonga leaps to Diamond League record
If Lyles is the sprint man of the future, then Luvo Manyonga is very much the long jump man of the present. The Olympic silver medallist backed up the world lead and African record of 8.65m from three weeks ago with a stunning last-round leap of 8.61m in Shanghai.
That was not only a meeting record but the biggest winning jump ever at a Diamond League meeting. Not that Manyonga was satisfied.
“The track was really fast and that made it difficult,” said Manyonga. “I did a few fouls and I didn’t get the distance today I wanted as I was looking for 8.80m, but I know it will come.”
Chinese jumpers filled places two, three and four with Gao Xinglong the best of the trio with 8.22m. Olympic champion Jeff Henderson was sixth with 8.03m.
There were also meeting records for Bershawn Jackson, who ran 48.63 to win the 400m hurdles, and Ruth Jebet, who exacted revenge on Hyvin Kiyeng to win the 3000m steeplechase in 9:04.78.
It was a welcome return to form for Jackson who lost his father and best friend last year and has declared this will be his last season in the sport. “I just want to go out with a bang,” said the 34-year-old American, who won the world title back in 2005.
Jebet turned the tables after Kiyeng’s victory in Doha seven days ago. The Kenyan was second this time ahead of her young teammate Celliphine Chespol who set the world junior record a week ago.
Repeat wins for McLeod, Perkovic and Kendricks
There was no meeting record for Omar McLeod, but the Jamaican retained his 110m hurdles title in 13.09 after a neck-and-neck tussle with Orlando Ortega in the traditional meeting closer.
And there was no national record for Sandra Perkovic either, but the Croatian notched up her fourth Shanghai victory in the women’s discus with 66.94m. Philip Milanov of Belgium won the men’s event with 64.94m as the experiment of holding alternate men’s and women’s rounds met was greeted warmly by the crowd.
Renaud Lavillenie achieved his goal of going above 5.70m in his first contest of the year, but the pole vault world record holder was beaten on the night by Sam Kendricks, who retained his Shanghai title with 5.88m to Lavillenie’s best of 5.83m.
China’s Gong Lijiao got the evening off to a winning start for the hosts, the 2015 world silver medallist taking her third Shanghai victory. Gong came under pressure from USA’s Daniella Bunch in round four but improved with every throw to claim the eight Diamond League points with 19.46m.
The crowd were on their feet again just an hour later when Su Bingtian came through in lane 3 to beat Mike Rodgers in the 100m. Su was a tenth outside his national record in 10.09.
Meanwhile, China’s high jumpers were doing their best to keep the party atmosphere going, not least Wang Yu who not only upstaged his flambouyant yet hip-injured teammate Zhang Guowei, but upset a few world and Olympic medallists to finish second behind Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim.
The Qatari picked up his second Diamond League victory in a week with a best of 2.33m, 3cm below his winning height in Doha. He came close to setting another meeting record at 2.37m, getting the height, but not the timing.
Canada’s world and Olympic champion Derek Drouin didn’t register a mark as he failed three times at 2.20.