Fred Kerley on his way to a 100m win in Yokohama (© Michael Thomas)
World champion Fred Kerley made a statement in his first 100m outing of the season, running a 9.88 heat before a 9.91 final in two dominant performances at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix, this season’s fourth World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting, in Yokohama, Japan, on Sunday (21).
After 200m wins in Melbourne and Doha and a 400m triumph in Sydney, the versatile sprinter maintained his unbeaten season and broke the meeting record in the heats, running his fastest ever 100m season debut with 9.88 (1.5m/s).
He then returned to the track to win the final in 9.91 (0.4m/s), keeping his composure after the race was recalled twice.
Once away, Kerley – who claimed Olympic 100m silver in Tokyo – was in cruise control and won clear ahead of Australia’s Rohan Browning and Japan’s Ryuichiro Sakai, who both clocked 10.10.
The world champion rules in Yokohama @fkerley99 wins the men's 100m final of the Seiko @goldengrandprix in 9.91 🔥— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) May 21, 2023
He clocked a 9.88 season's best in the heats.#ContinentalTourGold pic.twitter.com/g6YLVgfSfL
Kerley ran 19.92 to win the 200m at the Diamond League meeting in Doha earlier this month and will now turn his attention to Diamond League events in Rabat and Florence, where he will take on Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs and world bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell in the 100m.
The women’s 100m in Yokohama was expected to be a battle between New Zealand’s Oceanian record-holder Zoe Hobbs and USA’s Destiny Smith-Barnett and so it proved. Both athletes stormed out of their blocks, but Hobbs had the stronger finish and she moved away to cross the finish line clear in 11.20 (-0.4m/s) ahead of Smith-Barnett in 11.41.
No barriers for Izumiya
Japanese 110m hurdles record-holder Shunsuke Izumiya was impressive in his second competition of the season, missing his own national record mark by just 0.01 with 13.07 (0.8m/s) to claim a comfortable win ahead of his compatriots Shunya Takayama (13.25) and Shuhei Ishikawa (13.36). Only world champion Grant Holloway has gone faster than Izumiya’s time so far this season, with the 13.03 and 13.05 performances he achieved in Florida last month.
The men’s 400m hurdles came down to a battle between Japan’s Yusaku Kodama and Kazuki Kurokawa. Kodama moved level with his compatriot as they entered the home straight and then strode past him, surging ahead in the final stages to win in a PB of 48.77 – his first time under 49 seconds – to Kurokawa’s 49.03 for the runner-up spot. Takayuki Kishimoto was third in 49.28.
Asuka Terada also led a Japanese top three in the women’s 100m hurdles, matching her recently set PB of 12.86 (0.4m/s) and dipping to take victory ahead of Yumi Tanaka with a PB of 12.89 and national record-holder Mako Fukube with 12.91.
Yuki Joseph Nakajima had the race of his life to win the men’s 400m. The 21-year-old, who dipped under 45.50 for the first time earlier this month, further improved to 45.31 and held off Joao Coelho, who finished second in 45.46.
Japan’s Ryuji Miura started his 3000m steeplechase season in style, sprinting away from Kenya’s Amos Kirui to maintain his stranglehold on the event at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix. Winner at the past two editions, Miura completed his hattrick with an 8:19.07 run to deny Kirui. The pair exchanged the lead over the final lap but home favourite Miura was roared to the finish line and eventually claimed a clear win as Kirui – winner at the last Continental Tour Gold meeting on home soil in Nairobi – this time settled for second in 8:20.86.
Nozomi Tanaka was a popular home winner in the women’s 1500m. The Japanese record-holder powered away over the final lap to hold off USA’s Dani Jones, 4:11.56 to 4:12.12.
Nozomi Tanaka wins the 1500m in Yokohama (© Michael Thomas)
Meeting records fell in the 3000m races, Kenya's 2021 world U20 champion Teresia Muthoni Gateri winning the women's event in 8:43.81 ahead of Australia's Rose Davies (8:44.07) and Japan's Hyuga Endo taking the men's event in 7:45.08.
Yoshida and Little in form
Hiromichi Yoshida saved the jump of his life for the last round of the men's long jump competition and it clinched him the win as he beat China’s world champion Wang Jianan. Jumping 8.26m (1.0m/s), Yoshida added 12cm to his previous best and although Wang responded with 8.22m (1.5m/s) from his final attempt, it wasn’t enough to knock Yoshida from the top spot. Australia’s Henry Frayne was third with 7.99m (2.7m/s).
Just two centimetres separated the top two in the women’s long jump, Germany’s Maryse Luzolo leaping a wind-assisted 6.79m (2.5m/s) to win ahead of Australian record-holder Brooke Buschkuehl with 6.77m (1.7m/s). Both of those performances came in the fifth round and both athletes backed them up with matching 6.68m jumps. India’s Shaili Singh was third with 6.65m (2.1m/s).
Commonwealth javelin silver medallist Mackenzie Little started her international campaign with a win, following three domestic victories in March and April, by achieving a 64.10m throw to take top spot in Yokohama.
Just 17cm off the PB she set when claiming her Commonwealth medal in Birmingham, she won ahead of Tori Peeters, who added almost a metre to her previous best to improve the New Zealand record to 63.26m. In an Oceania top three, two-time world javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia finished third with 61.95m and Japan’s world bronze medallist Haruka Kitaguchi was fourth with 61.34m.
Japan's Genki Dean won the men's javelin with a throw of 82.03m.
World indoor champion Woo Sanghyeok won the men’s high jump as he cleared 2.29m on his first attempt to triumph on countback ahead of Australia’s Joel Baden.