Elaine Thompson-Herah runs a 10.54 100m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Getty Images)
Two-time Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson-Herah ran a stupendous Jamaican and Diamond League record of 10.54 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday (21) to defeat a field including the two compatriots who joined her on the Tokyo podium.
Thompson-Herah, whose previous best was the 10.61 she set in retaining her 100m title in Tokyo, overhauled the fast-starting Olympic silver medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to bolster the position she already held as the second-fastest ever behind the 1988 10.49 world record belonging to the late Florence Griffith-Joyner of the United States.
The 34-year-old Fraser-Pryce, the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 gold medallist who has run 10.63 this season, was second in 10.73, with fellow Jamaican Shericka Jackson completing the order of the Tokyo Olympic podium as she clocked 10.76, equalling her personal best.
They were followed by Teahna Daniels, Marie-Josée Ta Lou, Javianne Oliver, Mujinga Kambundji, Briana Williams and Sha'Carri Richardson.
Home sprinter Richardson, who missed the Olympics after incurring a one-month ban following a positive test for cannabis during the US Trials, failed to make the impact she had hoped for in rejoining the company of the world’s best, drifting back to ninth and last place in 11.14 on the Hayward Field track where she ran a wind-assisted 10.64 at the trials.
“To come back with a personal best after the Olympics, that is amazing,” said Thompson-Herah, whose face had lit up when she saw her time.
“It means a lot to me, because my job is to inspire a generation. I have more races, so I don’t get too excited, too carried away. I have to continue doing the job.”
On targeting faster times, she added: "I think the records are in reach, because I ran 10.5 and I have so much more in me. I don't want to get carried away - the celebrations will start in October and November, but for now I have a mission to complete!"
Given the flatness of Richardson's earlier performance it was no great surprise that the 21-year-old did not take up her option of competing in the women’s 200m, which was won in 22.06 by Switzerland’s Kambundji from home runner Gabrielle Thomas, the Tokyo bronze medallist, who clocked 22.11.
Britain’s world champion Dina Asher-Smith, who skipped the 200m in Tokyo as a precaution following her recovery from a severe hamstring injury, showed encouraging signs of recovery as she rounded the bend in the lead but was unable to hang on, finishing third – but in good order – in 22.19.
Thirty-five-year-old Allyson Felix, the London 2012 200m champion, was fourth.
More records fall in Bowerman Mile
Norway’s 20-year-old Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen kept his usual cool as he won the concluding Bowerman Mile in 3:47.24 to become the second athlete of the day to set a national and Diamond League meeting record.
Ingebrigtsen latched onto the characteristic front-charging Australian, Stewart McSweyn, and they reached the bell 40 metres clear of a field that included Kenya’s world champion and Olympic silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot.
As they moved up the back straight for the final time the cold-eyed Norwegian phenomenon picked his moment to strike and, despite one backward glance in the final 20 metres, he never looked threatened as he moved to the line.
McSweyn was rewarded with a time of 3:48.40, with Cheruiyot, who spoke before this race of his struggles with lower back and hamstring injuries in recent weeks, finishing a distant third in 3:51.17.
Kenya’s world number one Norah Jeruto, who missed the Olympics as she seeks a transfer of allegiance from her native Kenya to Kazakhstan, showed what the Games had missed as she destroyed a field that included the Tokyo gold medallist Peruth Chemutai of Uganda to win in 8:53.65 – putting her third on the all-time list.
In second place, home athlete Courtney Frerichs, whose bold front-running earned her silver behind Chemutai in Tokyo, reaped further reward for endeavour as she went under 9 minutes for the first time, clocking an Americas record of 8:57.77, with Kenya’s Tokyo bronze medallist Hyvin Jepkemoi third in 9:00.05. Chemutai was seventh in 9:10.87.
Home champions put on a show
All three individual home Olympic champions on show lived up to expectations in front of a respectable and enthusiastic home crowd as the annual Prefontaine Classic meeting returned to its traditional home for the first time in three years following the rebuilding work ahead of next year’s World Athletics Championships.
Ryan Crouser, who set a world record of 23.37m at the US Trials in this arena before retaining his title in Tokyo with an Olympic record of 23.30m, earned his 21st successive win with another dominant performance.
Having bettered the best efforts of all his rivals in his first five throws, including a best of 23.15m which broke the Diamond League record, Crouser then went into the jeopardy of the final three fomat, where defeat was still a prospect.
Not today. A concluding effort of 22.41m earned the deserved win, with Brazil’s Darlan Romani taking second place with 21.44m ahead of home world champion Joe Kovacs, who fouled out after throwing 21.94m earlier.
Athing Mu finished 20 metres clear of a top-class women’s 800m field as she won in a personal best of 1:55.04, the eighth fastest of all-time.
The 19-year-old looked as if she would be running even faster in a race that was not part of the Diamond League event before tying up slightly over the final 30 metres.
She was followed home by fellow American Kate Grace, whose form has soared since failing to qualify from the US Olympic trials, who clocked 1:57.60 ahead of Jamaica’s Natoya Goule, who finished in 1:57.71 from another US runner, Raevyn Rogers, who clocked 1:58.01, and Britain’s 19-year-old Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson, who was fifth in 1:58.30.
“A personal record again this season – that’s pretty great,” said Mu. “The Hayward Magic, they call it. I think this was the greatest field of people ever.”
Home Olympic pole vault champion Katie Nageotte only cleared at her third and final attempt at 4.62m but went on to earn victory with a third attempt clearance of 4.82m, which defeated second-placed Tokyo bronze medallist, Briton Holly Bradshaw.
“I felt good in the warm-up, but then it just crashed,” Nageotte said. “So I’m really, really proud that I came away with the win.”
Kenya’s double Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon finished, spectacularly, almost 40 metres clear as she won in a meeting record of 3:53.23, with Australia’s Linden Hall a distant second in 3:59.73 and Britain’s Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir, shocked perhaps by the unrelenting early pace, dropping down to 12th place in 4:05.92.
In the men’s 200m it felt like the real Noah Lyles stood up out of the blocks. The 2019 world champion, who put a brave face on taking bronze in Tokyo behind winner Andre De Grasse of Canada and fellow US sprinter Kenny Bednarek, left the latter in second place as he won in 19.52.
That was the fastest time run this season, and the fifth fastest of all-time behind his own 19.50 set two years ago. The look on his face as he crossed the line, uncharacteristically severe and intent, showed how much this statement meant to him.
“I wasn't really feeling that my mindset was right for today but I feel like five sessions of therapy I was able to let go of what happened in Tokyo and convince myself that I know I'm upset and I know I'm in great shape to run and come out here and be able to put it on the track,” Lyles said.
“I don't think you understand how lifeless it was in Tokyo to have no crowd there. It was dead silent. To come here and see a whole lot of people who love track, it was just amazing to see.”
It was a good night for the Lyles family as younger brother Josephus finished third in a personal best of 20.03.
De Grasse won the later 100m race in fine style, clocking 9.74 to finish ahead of home runner Fred Kerley, the Olympic silver medallist, with the former 400m man clocking 9.78 ahead of fellow US athlete Ronnie Baker, who finished in 9.82.
Cheptegei back to winning ways
Uganda’s Olympic 5,000m champion Joshua Cheptegei earned revenge of a kind over the 21-year-old Ethiopian who beat him to the Olympic 10,000m title, 21-year-old Selemon Barega, as he won a talent-packed, tactical men’s two miles in 8:09.55.
Barega, who was unable to double up in Tokyo, just held second place from the fast-finishing home runner Paul Chelimo, the Tokyo 5000m bronze medallist, by one hundredth of a second as he clocked 8:09.82.
Ukraine’s Iryna Gerashchenko won a women’s high jump that probably felt more of a marathon as she defeated home athlete Vashti Cunningham in a jump-off that went all the way back down from 2.00m, which they both failed after clearing 1.98m, to 1.94m, which finally divided them.
Home runner Dalilah Muhammad, the 2019 world champion and former world record-holder in the women’s 400m hurdles, won in a meeting record of 52.77 from compatriot Shamier Little, who clocked 53.79, and Panama’s Gianna Woodruff, third in a South American record of 54.20.
Portugal’s Olympic triple jump champion Pedro Pablo Pichardo saved his best until last as he won with a final three effort of 17.63m from Tokyo bronze medallist Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso, who had a best of 17.12m, and Donald Scott of the United States, who reached 17.03m.
The men’s 800m was won by Canada’s Marco Arop in 1:44.51. Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich finished second, ahead of the compatriot who beat him to Olympic gold in Tokyo, clocking 1:45.02 to Emmanuel Korir’s 1:45.05.
Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics