Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on her way to winning the 100m in Silesia (© Matt Quine)
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrated Jamaican Independence Day by scorching to a world-leading 10.66 (+0.5m/s) in a magnificent display of controlled speed to win the women’s 100m at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial – a last-minute addition to the 2022 Wanda Diamond League calendar – in Silesia on Saturday (6).
In the stadium known locally as ‘The Witches Cauldron’, persistent rain couldn’t prevent some of the world’s premier athletes from conjuring their special brand of magic, as Mondo Duplantis also produced another spellbinding performance.
It was the first ever Diamond League meeting to take place in Poland and it did not disappoint with nine meeting records, a Diamond League record and six Polish all-comers’ records.
Jamaican legend Fraser-Pryce, who has won five world titles and two Olympic gold medals over 100m, showed she has lost none of her edge since the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, running clear of a world-class field for her second Diamond League meeting victory of the year, following Paris in June.
“I always come into races expecting to run fast,” said the ebullient sprinter. “Last year I set a meeting record here, now it is a Diamond League and it is a lot more competitive with many top athletes. I came here prepared for it to be cold or raining, but it was not so bad, it actually got warmer later in the day.
“Last year I felt a lot of pressure on me and this year I decided to just have fun,” she added. “It is amazing to be this consistent. I am always excited to compete and see what I can do.”
USA’s Aleia Hobbs was second in 10.94 and Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josée Ta Lou was third in 11.00.
Another athlete well used to firsts is world and Olympic pole vault champion Mondo Duplantis. Fresh from his world record-breaking exploits in Eugene, the Swede looked like an athlete at the very peak of his powers, as the opposition slipped away in the rain.
In his second vault of the competition, he cleared 5.83m and was already the last man standing. To the delight of the crowd, he made a first-time clearance at 6.00m. He then targeted an outdoor all-comers’ record of 6.10m and although the bar wobbled, he succeeded at the third attempt to thrill an appreciative audience.
He bowed out there, having done more than enough in less-than-ideal conditions. “It is a little unfortunate with the weather, because the last two days the weather was like 32 degrees, sunny and warm. But it is what it is.
“It would be nice to have that today. But I like the way I was able to jump today. I do not think I could have jumped very much higher today. I did not have enough speed to get even higher. The last one I had, it was a really good technical jump. I cannot complain at all. I am only a human and I am doing what I was able to do today.
“I wasn’t on a stiff enough pole (to go higher),” he added. “It’s a pole I am surprised I could make 6.10m on. It’s the highest I have ever made on that pole. I got everything out of that pole and what the day gave me.”
Norway’s Sondre Gottormsen and world bronze medallist Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines were second and third, both clearing 5.73m.
The hammer competitions were poignant events, as the meeting is named in honour of Poland’s 2000 Olympic champion Kamila Skolimowksa who died suddenly and prematurely in 2009. And the moment was not lost on men’s winner Pavel Fajdek, the five-time world champion who has hit a rich vein of form after retaining his title in Eugene.
He uncorked a second-round throw of 81.27m, a Diamond League record and his second-best throw of the season to claim victory from Olympic champion and Polish teammate Wojciech Nowicki, whose best was a fourth-round throw of 79.19m. Frances Quentin Bigot was third with 78.83m
“I have been competing in a lot of Diamond League competitions, but this one is special,” said Fajdek. “It is most important especially for Kamila Skolimowska who is in our hearts, so we always try to give our best here.
He was said the conditions were not an issue for him. “As a kid I trained in all weather, whether it was raining or snowing or when it was really hot, so I am prepared for any conditions. The rain can never make me worse. I even throw better when it is raining!”
The two hammer competitions took place simultaneously in the same circle, alternating between men’s and women’s throwers.
With home favourite and triple Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk missing the bulk of this season with a thigh injury, USA’s Brooke Andersen has filled the void as world champion and world leader in the women’s discipline.
She initially struggled to adapt to the weather and format, but managed to find her form in the final round. She landed the hammer at 75.76m to see off compatriot and world bronze medallist Janee Kassanavoid whose best was a second-round throw of 74.89m. Poland’s Olympic bronze medallist Malwina Kopron was third with 70.37m.
“It was a very exciting competition,” said Andersen. “In the last round I finally managed to be more patient and focused. I was kind of rushing during the whole competition. It was kind of frustrating. Once I finally realised it, everything was okay.
“This is actually first time I have competed in a mixed competition like this,” she added. “When you see these guys throwing 80 metres, of course, you also want to throw the same or just get close to it. It makes you try harder, it was very exciting.”
Newly-crowned world champion Alison Dos Santos oozed confidence as he took the men’s 400m hurdles in a meeting record. World Championships fifth-place finisher Khallifah Rosser of the USA made a race of it to the home straight, but Dos Santos charged away from the penultimate hurdle to win in a Polish all-comers’ record of 47.80, licking his lips as he crossed the line.
Rosser was a 0.5 adrift in second with France’s Wilfried Happio, fourth in Eugene, third here in 48.74.
The flat 400m races also produced meeting records.
In the men’s race, world gold and silver medallists Michael Norman and Kirani James renewed their rivalry. Norman ran a confident race, leading at 200m and not letting up until he crossed the line in a Polish all-comers’ record of 44.11, 0.44 clear of James. USA’s Bryce Deadmon was third in 44.68.
Netherland’s Femke Bol produced a storming run to win the women’s race, bagging her first ever sub-50-second run on the flat.
The world silver medallist over 400m hurdles showed superb speed to win in 49.75 for a national and meeting record. It helped propel Natalia Kaczmarek to her first run under 50 seconds too, as she finished second in 49.86. Third place went to Candice McLeod in 50.22.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, Olympic champion and world bronze medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico got back to winning ways. Despite trailing at halfway, she delivered her customary strong finish and outdipped world record-holder Kendra Harrison to win in a Polish all-comers’ record of 12.34 (+0.8m/s).
Harrison was just 0.03 behind with fellow US hurdler Tia Jones running a lifetime best of 12.49 in third.
In the men’s long jump, Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece was another Olympic gold medallist looking to go one better than his second place in Eugene. And it was mission accomplished as he set a meeting record of 8.13m in the fifth round.
In the men’s triple jump, Andy Diaz got the better of several global medallists, winning with a second-round best of 17.53m. World and Olympic champion Pedro Pichardo managed a best of 17.29m for second place and Olympic silver medallist Zhu Yaming of China leapt 17.25m to place third.
There was a slight surprise in the women’s 1500m as world 5000m champion Gudaf Tsegay was beaten by Ethiopian teammate Diribe Welteji, the fourth-place finisher over 800m at the recent World Championships.
The Ethiopians were well clear with two laps to go, but Tsegay was unable to shake Welteji, the 2018 world U20 800m champion. As they entered the home straight, Welteji made the decisive move and strode away to win in 3:56.91, a meeting record and personal best by more than two seconds. Tsegay was second in 3:58.81 and their fellow Ethiopian Hirut Meshesha was third in 4:00.93.
World champion Shericka Jackson logged yet another impressive victory as the Jamaican won the women’s 200m with plenty in hand in 21.84, yet another Polish all-comers’ record. The speed endurance of world 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo came to the fore and she finished strongly to take second in 22.35 ahead of USA’s Jenna Prandini in 22.39.
“The race went according to plan,” said Jackson. “I just wanted to execute, focus on my lane and not look at what my rivals were doing. I approach all my races like that. I am not thinking about the world record. I just try to do my best; if it comes, it comes.”
There was yet another meeting record in the women’s shot with world champion Chase Ealey of USA landing a mighty 20.38m third-round throw. World bronze medallist Jessica Schilder scored a Dutch record with 19.84m in second, with Canada’s new Commonwealth Games winner Sarah Mitton third with 19.44m.
“After the World Championships I felt it would be hard to be in top shape so soon, but I´m happy I was able to turn around so fast and come right back to my best,” commented Ealey. “I remain motivated and I want to break the American record at the Diamond League final. The ring was still wet after the rain today, but the conditions were not a big problem.
“I have always enjoyed coming here. The atmosphere is very vibrant and the audience know the throws.”
World silver medallist Joe Kovacs left it late to win the men’s shot. His final-round throw of 21.79m just got the better of Tom Walsh – who travelled through the night to get to Silesia after winning the Commonwealth title in Birmingham yesterday – by nine centimetres. World bronze medallist Josh Awotunde was third again with a best of 21.35m.
In the men’s 100m, world bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell got the better of US teammate and world silver medallist Mavin Bracy-Williams, clocking 9.95 to 10.00. In a photo finish, Ackeem Blake of Jamaica was third, sharing 10.00 dead.
In the men’s 800m, world and Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir of Kenya was severely tested. Running wide and fifth into the home straight, he left himself a lot to do. But straining every sinew, he edged past compatriot Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich in the closing strides to win by 0.04 in 1:45.72.
Double Olympic champion Sifan Hassan bounced back from her World Championships disappointments to win the women’s 3000m. Running within the pack, she made her move with 250 metres to go, taking over from long-time leader Ejgayehu Taye of Ethiopia. Looking strong and focused, she added a second kick with 100 metres to go and eased clear to win in 8:39.27.
World indoor bronze medallist Taye held off world 10,000m bronze medallist Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi for second place in 8:40.14.
The women’s javelin was won by world bronze medallist Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan with a dramatic final-round throw of 65.10m to snatch victory from evergreen double Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova, the Czech’s best being an opening round 62.29m.
In the men’s event, Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic won with a fourth-round throw of 86.68m. Germany’s Julian Weber and USA’s Curtis Thompson took second and third with 84.94m and 82.39m respectively.
The women’s high jump was won by Uzbekistan’s Safina Sadullayeva, taking a surprise win on countback over world silver medallist Yaroslava Mahuchikh, both clearing 1.92m.
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics