Sydney McLaughlin in action at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Szekesfehervar (© Quinten Lafort)
World champion and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin closed her season with effortless brilliance as she clocked the fastest ever 400m hurdles time on European soil at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial in Szekesfehervar on Monday (8).
The World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting saw five more world champions underscore their world-leading status with impressive victories at the Bregyo Atletikai Kozpont Center. And she wasn’t the only world champion to deliver in the speed stakes, as Jamaican sprint legend Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran the second fastest 100m of the year.
On an evening where eight meeting records were broken, the capacity Hungarian crowd was given an appetiser of what’s to come at next year’s World Championships in Budapest.
There was huge anticipation around McLaughlin’s first appearance since her astonishing performance at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 and she didn’t disappoint. Running strong from the gun, she held perfect form throughout to clock 51.68, a meeting record by more than a second and the sixth fastest time ever.
“I just wanted to go out there and execute and have a clean race,” she said. “I had a little bit of a break coming off the worlds. But it felt like a good race and I am really happy with the time. We are excited to be here (in Hungary) and scouting out everything ahead of the worlds next year.”
Jamaican duo Janieve Russell and Rushell Clayton were second and third in 54.14 and 54.45.
Three days after running a world-leading 10.66 at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Silesia, 10-time world gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce laid down the second fastest time of the year with a searing 10.67. She left a world-class field in her slipstream, headed by teenager Tamari Davis of USA and Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji in 10.92 and 10.99 respectively.
“It was one of those days where I wasn’t feeling too well, but I just wanted to execute and have a good run,” said Fraser-Pryce after her record fifth sub-10.7 performance of the year. “I definitely have more to give. I just need to watch the races and work at it a little more. But it definitely feels good to hit 10.6 consistently throughout the year.”
Expectations are always enormous on Mondo Duplantis and the world record-holder wasn’t quite able to replicate his top form on this occasion. But he still had enough in hand to win the men’s pole vault with a meeting record of 5.80m before three failures at 6.01m. Former world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie was second with 5.70m and French teammate Thibaut Collet third in 5.60m.
The throws threw up some fascinating clashes. In the men’s discus, it brought the first match up between newly-crowned world champion Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia and Olympic champion Daniel Stahl of Sweden.
Ceh laid out his stall right from the first round, crashing a throw of 71.23m, his second farthest throw ever. He followed up with another 70-metre plus throw of 70.35m in the second round to underscore his dominance. Stahl’s best was 67.01m for third with Lithuania’s 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius second with 67.39m.
The men’s hammer cranked into life in the fourth round when five-time world champion Pawel Fajdek unleashed a throw of 79.15m. The response was immediate. Local hero and 2019 world bronze medallist Bence Halasz thrilled the home crowd with 79.44m.
But then Olympic champion Wojciech Nowicki of Poland had the final word, landing a competition-winning 79.96m. And that’s how the top three remained to the end of the competition.
In the women’s event Brooke Andersen was another world champion stamping her authority. With victory already secured, she released her best throw of 74.84m in the final round. US teammat and world bronze medallist Janee’ Kassanavoid was second with 72.58m and Katrine Koch Jacobsen of Denmark third with 70.13m.
In the men’s shot, world silver medallist Joe Kovacs channelled his Hungarian heritage to equal his season’s best of 22.89m, smashing the meeting record. Competing in the nation of his grandfather’s birth, he was a popular competitor for the home crowd and landed a 22.87m final-round flourish to underline his win.
“I actually had 12 family members who came here to watch me today, we are going to go out to dinner tonight,” he said. “It’s probably been 15 years since I have seen them. It was really cool to see them in person again.
“It was a really good day; I am ready to throw 23. We still have three Diamond League meets left, so hopefully at one of them, I’ll get over that 23 mark. Today I was on.”
With an eye on some upcoming competitions with world champion Ryan Crouser, Kovacs said: “Right now I think it would be a really good match-up between us. At worlds he was only a few centimetres away. So, I think he and I are going to duke it out for the rest of the season.”
In the 200m races, 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton gave another exhibition in raw talent in the men’s race, winning in a meeting record of 19.88 from Canada’s Aaron Brown and Alexander Ogando of Dominican Republic in 20.24 and 20.38.
World champion Shericka Jackson put in another superb run in the women’s 200m, winning in 22.02 from Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji and USA’s Kayla White, who logged 22.45 and 22.46.
Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn showed her class in the women’s 100m hurdles, powering through to win in a wind-assisted 12.27. Early leader Kendra Harrison was second in 12.49 and her US teammate Nia Ali third in 12.60.
Jamaica’s Rasheed Broadbell followed up his Commonwealth Games gold medal winning performance by beating world champion Grant Holloway in the men’s 110m hurdles.
Holloway had led from the gun, but he faltered at the penultimate hurdle. Broadbell held his composure to win in a photo finish in 13.12. Holloway clocked the same time, with Daniel Roberts a further 0.01 back.
World silver medallist Marvin Bracy-Williams got the better of world bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell in the men’s 100m, reversing the result from the Diamond League meeting in Silesia three days prior. Bracey won in 9.97 to Bromell’s 10.01. Elijah Hall made it a US 1-2-3, also clocking 10.01.
In the 400m, Vernon Norwood of USA held off world 400m hurdles champion Alison Dos Santos winning in 44.96 to the Brazilian’s 45.11. USA’s Michael Cherry was third in 45.42.
In the women’s 800m, Ethiopian Diribe Welteji followed up her victory over 1500m at the Diamond League in Silesia with another win. With the pack going through the bell at 58.25, she took over with 300m to go and was never threatened. She strode to a meeting record of 1:59.33 ahead of Benin’s Noelie Yarigo and USA’s Brooke Feldmeier, who clocked 2:01.00 and 2:01.44 respectively.
In the men’s two-lap race, Nicholas Kiplangat Kebenei of Kenya kicked past Ireland’s John Fitzsimmons and Isaiah Jewett of USA off the final turn to win in 1:45.49. Fitzsimmons and Jewett shared a finish time of 1:45.70 with the Irishman just getting the verdict on the photo finish.
Elsewhere, Italy’s Olympic god medallist Gianmarco Tamberi was a crowd-pleasing winner of the men’s high jump with 2.24m. Milica Gardasevic of Serbia set a lifetime best of 6.83m to win the women’s long jump, while a first-round throw of 61.99m was enough for Yulenmis Aguilar to win the javelin.
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics