US shot putter Ryan Crouser (© Getty Images)
World record-holder and Olympic shot put champion Ryan Crouser threw a world-leading 22.75m at the Puerto Rico International Athletics Classic, a World Athletics Continental Tour Silver meeting, at the Francisco Montaner Stadium in Ponce on Thursday (12).
And although local star Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, the Olympic champion, was surprisingly beaten in the women’s 100m hurdles, the crowd was treated to several world-class performances in a meet that assembled 37 global medallists from more than 20 countries.
Crouser unleashed his shot out to 22.75m in the first round and added two more throws beyond 22 metres to cement his lead in what was his second outdoor appearance since earning silver at the World Indoor Championships.
High expectations were centred on Camacho-Quinn’s Puerto Rican debut over her specialty event, in the last race of the evening. But after getting off to a shaky start, the world leader played catch-up and tried her best to overtake early leader Alaysha Johnson, who prevailed at the end in a big PB 12.50, 0.02 ahead of Camacho-Quinn. Jamaica’s 2015 world champion Danielle Williams finished third in 12.67.
Composed after the upset, Camacho-Quinn smiled and thanked the crowd for their support and promised to make them proud as she carried two Puerto Rican flags.
Four other individual gold medallists from Tokyo lived up to their billing. Like Crouser and Johnson, three of them set Puerto Rican all-comers’ records.
Elaine Thompson-Herah delighted the crowd with the first ever sub-11-second 100m clocking in Puerto Rico. The Jamaican crossed the finish line in 10.93 and held off the challenge of Trinidad & Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (11.06), USA’s Shania Collins (11.08) and Tamari Davis (11.08).
Back to Puerto Rico for the second time this season, Steven Gardiner of The Bahamas tried the 300m and moved into the top 10 on the all-time world list with his 31.52-second run, followed by USA’s Vernon Norwood (31.81) and Jamaica’s Nathon Allen (32.04).
USA’s Athing Mu, the 800m winner in Tokyo, opted for the one-lap race and produced a season’s best and Puerto Rican all-comers’ record of 50.42. She waved to the crowd with runner-up Gabby Scott (51.42), who came within 0.03 of the Puerto Rican record.
The men’s event was dominated easily by another Olympic champion, 2012 winner Kirani James of Grenada, who won in 44.70.
Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment was in control from the start and did not relinquish his lead to take the 110m hurdles in a season’s best of 13.15, closely challenged by USA’s two-time Olympic finalist Devon Allen. “I love competing in the Caribbean, the atmosphere and the fact that is warm,” said Parchment.
Mu’s US compatriot and 800m specialist, 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy, denied a home win for 2019 Pan American Games bronze medallist Ryan Sanchez. Pushed by the pacers, Sanchez hit the bell in just over 50 seconds and held the lead with 100 metres to go, but Murphy’s late charge found no answer and crossed the finish line in 1:45.54. Sanchez, tiring towards the end, was also overtaken by Kenya’s Michael Saruni (1:46.14) on the home stretch and had to settle for third in 1:46.42.
After a slightly wind-aided season’s debut of 9.75, 2016 world indoor champion Trayvon Bromell confirmed his fine form and pleased the crowd with a comfortable 9.92-second win, the first sub-10-second time ever produced in Puerto Rico.
His fellow US sprinters Brandon Carnes (10.02) and Kyree King (10.11) followed him home. World indoor bronze medallist Marvin Bracy, who ran 10.11 in the heats, did not run the final.
The Puerto Rican Classic also marked the return to competition for USA’s four-time and two-time Olympic medallist Christian Taylor, who missed 2021 due to an achilles surgery. “I love what I do, and I am back for the love of the sport,” said Taylor, who had a best leap of 15.91m. “I am healthy and ready to do a full campaign. As defending (world) champion, I can better prepare for Eugene.”
US compatriot Donald Scott, the world indoor bronze medallist, won with 16.88m.
Elsewhere, two-time Olympic finalist Janieve Russell led a Jamaican sweep in the women's 400m hurdles with 54.09, the second-fastest time in the world this year.
Nigeria’s world and Olympic medallist Ese Brume dominated the long jump with 6.90m (3.5m/s). Adelle Tracey of Great Britain ran a smart race to take the 1500m in 4:05.96. USA’s two-time world indoor champion Sandi Morris took the pole vault in a jump off at 4.72m with Greece’s 2016 Olympic winner Katerina Stefanidi, second with 4.62m.
The event, which drew athletes form 21 countries, paid tribute to Javier Culson, Puerto Rico’s first Olympic medallist in athletics, thanks to his bronze medal in the 400m hurdles at the 2012 Games in London.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for World Athletics