Elaine Thompson-Herah celebrates her 100m win at the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich (© Getty Images)
Jamaican sprint star Elaine Thompson-Herah brought an incredible season to a close with yet another record-breaking performance at the Wanda Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday (9).
After an Olympic record, a Diamond League record and many more storming performances in between, this time it was the 37-year-old Weltklasse Zurich 100m record which fell as the five-time Olympic gold medallist clocked a dominant 10.65 for her ninth sub-10.80 run of the year.
It is the equal 10th fastest time in history, with Thompson-Herah herself owning four of those performances, topped by the 10.54 she ran at the Eugene Diamond League meeting to move to second on the world all-time list. The Jamaican also occupies the No.2 spot on the global 200m all-time list thanks to her 21.53 to win one of her three Olympic gold medals in Tokyo.
“It was a long season with ups and downs,” said the 29-year-old, who has endured a series of injury struggles since her Olympic sprint double in 2016. “But next year, the world record is definitely on my mind.”
Winning was the focus in Zurich and Thompson-Herah achieved that in superb style as she secured her third Diamond Trophy ahead of Britain’s world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith, who ran a season’s best of 10.87 – just 0.04 off her national record in a season which has also been interrupted by injury.
Ajla Del Ponte, who finished fifth in the Olympic final, also came close to her PB as she placed third in front of home fans in 10.93, while Britain’s Daryll Neita matched that time to set a lifetime best and finish fourth. Del Ponte’s fellow Swiss star Mujinga Kambundji also dipped under 11 seconds as she finished fifth in a PB of 10.94.
Historic crown for Kerley
Fresh from making history by becoming the first man to win 100m, 200m and 400m races in the Diamond League, the USA’s Fred Kerley achieved another first with no other athlete having ever won Diamond Trophies in both the 100m and 400m.
Three years after claiming the 400m crown, Kerley won the 100m in 9.87 in Zurich as he narrowly held off Canada’s Andre De Grasse, who equalled his PB with 9.89. Kerley’s US compatriots Ronnie Baker and Trayvon Bromell were just behind them, running 9.91 and 9.96 for third and fourth place respectively.
"Target for the next season - to keep on making history," said Olympic 100m silver medallist Kerley. "I won my first Diamond League here, I won my second Diamond League here, so I am pleased and happy about Zurich. Now I have got two more races to finish out the season."
Both Kerley and De Grasse were back on the track for the 200m final just over an hour later, when it was Kenny Bednarek – racing on fresh legs – who continued his incredible consistency to take the crown.
Adding to his record single-season tally of sub-20-second 200m times, Bednarek achieved his 11th wind-legal clocking of the season, running 19.70 as Olympic champion De Grasse – who gained a medal double in Tokyo having also claimed 100m bronze – was again the runner-up, running 19.72.
Kerley was third this time in 19.83, while Canada’s Aaron Brown was fourth in 20.13.
There was also a historic performance in the women’s 200m, as Namibia’s 18-year-old Olympic silver medallist Christine Mboma improved her own world U20 200m record to 21.78, winning by 0.03 ahead of Jamaica’s Olympic 100m bronze medallist Shericka Jackson.
It was Asher-Smith, doubling up after her 100m runner-up finish, who had led off the bend but then Jackson powered past her, chased by Mboma. The teenager edged ahead and had just enough left to claim the victory, as Asher-Smith was third in 22.19 and Kambundji fourth in 22.27.
"When I crossed the finish line, I did not know that I had won," said Mboma. "Then I just saw my name and I was like: Wow! This trophy means a lot to me."
From fourth to first for Amusan and Allen
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan ran the race of her life to win the 100m hurdles, clocking 12.42 to break the 23-year-old African record held by 2000 Olympic silver medallist Glory Alozie.
Amusan had just missed out on a medal at the Olympics in Tokyo, pipped by Jamaica’s Megan Tapper as Nadine Visser of the Netherlands finished fifth.
That trio claimed the top three spots in Zurich, with Visser holding on to finish runner-up in a Dutch record of 12.51, as Tapper placed third in 12.55. USA’s Payton Chadwick finished fourth in a PB of 12.62.
"I did not win a medal at the Olympics. It was a very challenging time for me afterwards, but I never gave up," said Amusan. "I came out here and I was like, if I did not get a medal in Tokyo, the least I can do is to get a Diamond League Trophy, and I just did that!"
The Olympic fourth-place finisher also got the win in the men’s 110m hurdles final, with USA’s Devon Allen claiming the Diamond Trophy in a photo finish ahead of Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist Ronald Levy.
Allen and Jamaica’s Olympic champion Hansle Parchment put each other under pressure until the final barrier, when Parchment seemed to lose a little momentum and Levy came through to cross the finish line in the same time as Allen. The top two both clocked 13.06, with just 0.004 separating them on the photo finish.
Parchment was third in 13.17, while USA’s Daniel Roberts finished fourth in 13.31. There was disappointment for home favourite Jason Joseph, as he was disqualified for a false start.
No barriers for Warholm and Bol
World record-holder, Olympic champion, two-time world champion and now two-time Diamond League champion – Karsten Warholm's remarkable run of success continued in Zurich.
Clocking 47.35, the Norwegian 400m hurdles star notched up a record 15th sub-47.50 performance – a list led by his 45.94 world record set in Tokyo – to triumph ahead of Brazil’s Olympic bronze medallist Alison dos Santos, who ran an area record of 46.72 at the Games and this time clocked 47.81.
Olympic finalists Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands and Estonia’s Rasmus Magi were third and fourth respectively, running 48.24 and 48.84.
"I'm starting to get tired," said Warholm. "Today was heavy. After the Olympics I have been tired both mentally and physically so getting back today was actually a big struggle but when there is a diamond at stake I need to bring my A-game, so I am very happy with the win."
Dutch hurdler Femke Bol has been improving impressively throughout the season and although she explained before the final in Zurich that her peak for the year was likely to have come in Tokyo, where she ran 52.03 to claim Olympic bronze, the 21-year-old was still highly impressive.
Breaking the meeting record with 52.80, she finished clear ahead of USA’s 2015 world silver medallist Shamier Little, as Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova placed third in 53.70.
"I am really happy," said Bol. "Before the race I made a plan with my coach to get a good time and win with the meeting record and I got both."
Cherry and Hayes win 400m thrillers
With so much at stake, the finals in Zurich were always going to provide some thrilling moments and that was definitely the case in both 400m races.
The host nation will now have the chance to field four athletes in both the men’s and women’s 400m at next year’s World Athletics Championships in Oregon after USA’s Michael Cherry and Quanera Hayes narrowly edged their rivals to claim top Diamond League honours.
First up was the women’s final, which saw Hayes go head-to-head with the Dominican Republic’s Olympic silver medallist Marileidy Paulino.
The US sprinter had a slight lead off the final bend but she was joined by Paulino, Barbadian Sada Williams and Jamaica’s Olympic fourth-placer Stephenie Ann McPherson, who were all well in contention.
Hayes began to move away but Paulino wasn’t giving up. With the final few strides the Olympic medallist gave it her all and threw herself over the line, but the US champion was already there and dipped for victory – 49.88 to 49.96.
Williams was third in 50.24 and McPherson fourth in 50.25.
The men’s final was even closer. Just like they were at the Olympic Games, Cherry and Grenada’s Kirani James were locked in battle but this time the US sprinter turned the tables.
In Tokyo, 2012 Olympic champion James pipped Cherry to bronze to complete his Olympic medal set, but, as he showed at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels, Cherry wasn’t going to let that happen again. As they both launched themselves over the finish, Cherry was ahead by just 0.01. His winning time was 44.41 – his 14th sub-45-second clocking of the season – ahead of James with 44.42, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Deon Lendore was third in 44.81 and Vernon Norwood fourth in 44.84.
"It was a hard race," said Cherry. "Kirani always gives me a battle and I wanted to make sure I came away with the victory today."
Jess Whittington for World Athletics