Continental Tour Gold highlights
Following a somewhat challenging inaugural season in 2020, the World Athletics Continental Tour got into full swing in 2021 with 12 Gold level meetings hosted in nine different countries, spread across four continental areas.
In the first of a two-part series, we look back at the highlights of a memorable 2021 Continental Tour Gold season.
Eugene, 24 April
Shaunae Miller-Uibo of The Bahamas, the 2016 Olympic champion, set a meeting record of 49.08 to win the 400m, breaking the stadium record at the legendary Hayward Field.
World finalist Rudy Winkler of the United States won the hammer with a personal best of 81.98m.
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.46 – 0.14 off her world-leading PB at that time.
Michael Norman ran 44.67 to win the 400m from training partner Rai Benjamin, who clocked 44.97.
Britons Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan won the 1500m and 5000m respectively in 4:01.54 and 14:52:44.
Tokyo, 9 May
In the test event for the stadium that would later host Olympic athletics, Qatar’s world champion Mutaz Barshim and home athlete Naoto Tobe shared victory in the high jump following an inconclusive jump-off.
After clearing all heights from 2.15m to 2.30m and then failing at 2.33m, they vainly took it in turns to decide the winner at 2.33m, 2.31m and 2.29m before calling it a day. An interesting precedent in the Olympic stadium…
Elsewhere in the Ready Steady Tokyo meeting, home athletes Kazuki Kurokawa and Ryuji Miura, both 19, excelled in the 400m hurdles and 3000m steeplechase respectively.
Kurokawa won with a personal best of 48.90 and Miura won in a national record of 8:17.46 – both Olympic qualifying marks.
More success for the host nation came in the women’s 1500m, which world U20 champion Nozomi Tanaka won by more than three seconds in 4:09.10.
Mt SAC, 9 May
Home sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson ran two sub-10.80 100m times.
The 21-year-old, who had run 10.72 earlier in the season to move to sixth on the world all-time list, clocked 10.74 (1.1m/s) in her heat and won the final with 10.77 (-1.2m/s).
Statistical reckoning indicated the latter time would have been worth 10.69 in still conditions and 10.58 with a 2.0m/s following wind, the maximum allowable for record purposes.
Rai Benjamin, running his first 400m hurdles race since taking silver at the 2019 World Championships, won his specialist event in 47.13, 0.15 off his personal best. He bettered the 1979 track record of 47.89 set by two-time world and Olympic champion Edwin Moses. Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands was second in a national record of 47.50 and 20-year-old Alison Dos Santos third in a Brazilian record of 47.68.
Benjamin's run was one of four early world-leading marks set by home athletes.
The three others came in the women's 400m hurdles, won by home Shamier Little in 53.65, the women’s 1500m, where Elle Purrier ran 3:58.36, and the men's pole vault, where Pan American champion Chris Nilsen cleared 5.91m to knock Sweden's world record-holder Mondo Duplantis off the top spot.
World champion Noah Lyles ran 19.90 to win the 200m, beating fellow US sprinter Kenny Bednarek by 0.04.
Gabby Thomas won the women's 200m in 22.12, with 35-year-old Allyson Felix, the 2012 Olympic champion, second in 22.26, her fastest time since 2016.
Ostrava, 19 May
Uganda’s world 5000m and 10,000m record-holder Joshua Cheptegei fell short of his world record target in the 3000m, but his winning time of 7:33.24 was one of five world-leading marks set at the 60th Golden Spike meeting.
Germany’s 2017 world champion Johannes Vetter won the javelin with 94.20m.
Two teenage British runners won the 800m races as 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson reduced her best to 1:58.89 and Max Burgin, a day before his 19th birthday, won the men’s race in a European U20 record of 1:44.14 – the fastest in 2021 to that point and an Olympic qualifying time.
There was a world lead too in the men’s 10,000m, where Uganda’s 20-year-old Jacob Kiplimo, the world half marathon champion, clocked 26:33.93.
Sha’Carri Richardson of the United States won over 200m in 22.35 and Sweden’s pole vault world record-holder Mondo Duplantis earned victory with 5.90m.
Boston, 23 May
World 100m hurdles record-holder Kendra Harrison broke the meeting record at the adidas Boost Boston Games, clocking 12.49.
US compatriot Grant Holloway, the world indoor record-holder, also broke a meeting record for the 110m hurdles with 13.20.
Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of The Bahamas stepped down to the 200m and won in 22.08.
Further meeting records went in the rarely run 200m hurdles events, through Jamaica’s Shiann Salmon in 24.86 and Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos in 22.11.
Hengelo, 6 June
Sifan Hassan lowered the women’s world 10,000m record to 29:06.82 in the stadium where she had set a European record of 29:36.67 in October 2020.
The world 1500m and 10,000m champion took more than 10 seconds off the 29:17.45 mark set by Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
She went through halfway in 14:38.75 and ran a 2:45 final kilometre, lapping the entire field before sinking to the track in delight.
“Wow, to run this world record here today in Hengelo is something I could only dream of,” said Hassan after adding this latest mark to her world records in the mile, one hour event and road 5km – albeit that Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey would beat it with 29:01.03 two days later on the same track.
That was a perfect start to the 40th Fanny Blankers Koen Games and 21-year-old world pole vault record-holder Mondo Duplantis kept the bar high with a 6.10m victory, which remained the best clearance of 2021.
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in a meeting record of 12.44.
Britain’s world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith ran her first sub-11.00 100m time of the season, clocking a meeting record of 10.92.
Home athlete Femke Bol also broke a meeting record as she won her first 400m hurdles race of the season in 54.33.
Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics