Dafne Schippers winning the 100m at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League meeting in London (© Kirby Lee)
Dafne Schippers brought day two of the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London to a record-breaking conclusion at the Olympic Stadium when she sliced 0.02 from her Dutch record to win the women’s 100m in 10.92 at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games on Saturday (25).
Schippers had already clocked 10.99 in her heat when she beat Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor by 0.01.
In a previous heat, Dina Asher-Smith ran the same time but had also made history by becoming the first British woman ever to break 11 seconds.
The 19-year-old, a kit carrier in the same stadium at the London 2012 Olympic Games, received a massive roar from the crowd before blasting past Murielle Ahoure to clock 10.99.
Asher-Smith described her heat run as “messy in places” but also admitted she was so “over the moon” that she struggled to regain her focus in time for the final where she finished fourth in 11.06.
By contrast, Schippers timed her effort perfectly and emerged between the fast-starting Ahoure and Okagbare-Ighoteguonor to take victory over the Nigerian, who clocked 10.98. Ahoure was third in 11.01.
Schippers lowered her national 100m record to 10.94 in Hengelo at the end of May, and the world heptathlon bronze medallist’s performance here again justified her decision to target the sprints at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month.
“It was a difficult decision but I think I am a sprinter now and it feels good,” she said.
“I am more relaxed every race and I think it's better for me to do only one thing. I can focus on my start and that was difficult to do when I was in the heptathlon.
“It is good that people from Europe can beat girls from America and Jamaica. It's nice that we have both run a national record here. I think I can run faster than today.”
Perfectly paced race for van Niekerk
Another athlete with his sights set firmly on Beijing is Wayde van Niekerk, who had another morale-boosting victory in the men’s 400m.
Just three weeks after beating Olympic champion Kirani James in Paris, the South African overtook Isaac Makwala to win the men’s 400m.
Van Niekerk became the first African to break 44 seconds when he beat James earlier this month, but he saw that record evaporate 24 hours later when the Botswanan ran 43.72, making this something of a grudge match.
Van Niekerk responded superbly to the challenge, coming from behind again to take victory in 44.63. Makwala stormed away at the start but faded to fourth in the home straight, clocking 45.29 as US champion David Verburg came through for second in 45.01 with Chris Brown taking third in 45.33.
Van Niekerk is now just two points behind James in the Diamond Race, but his mind is already in China.
“The season has certainly been a blessing to me so far,” said the South African.
“The Diamond Race points are a bonus to me, whatever happens, happens. This was my last Diamond League race before the World Championships so I just wanted to finish it with a good time and feel confident for the race.”
Asbel Kiprop retained the Emsley Carr Mile title when he emerged from a huge pack to outsprint USA’s Matthew Centrowitz in the home straight. The world 1500m champion clocked 3:54.87 after drifting from the front to a seemingly impossible boxed position with a lap to go.
As the final stages of the race unfolded, he stepped out of the huddle and clawed his way past Centrowitz and Ayanleh Souleiman, who were second and third respectively.
Kenyans were in winning form in the women’s distance events too, as Eunice Sum underlined her status as favourite for the world 800m title with her fourth IAAF Diamond League victory.
Sum overpowered Dutch runner Sifan Hasan to clock 1:58.44 and move 10 points clear of USA’s Ajee Wilson in the Diamond Race. Hassan was rewarded for her bold move down the back straight with a personal best of 1:59.46 in second place.
No mercy for Cherono's rivals
Mercy Cherono made up a 50-metre gap on Molly Huddle to take maximum points in the women’s 5000m and move to third in the standings.
Cherono came home in 14:54.81 after being 30 metres adrift with 800m to go.
She finally caught Huddle at the bell but the US runner, who had led for the whole race, challenged again on the last lap before succumbing and finishing second in 14:57.42.
Kenyans dominated the men’s steeplechase too, but it was not Diamond Race leader Jairus Birech who took maximum points this time.
Birech was beaten for the second time this season when world silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto outkicked him in the home straight to win in 8:09.47.
Birech was second in 8:09.81 with Ezekiel Kemboi, who had beaten Birech in Oslo, third in 8:12.13.
There were no Diamond Race points available in the men’s 800m, but plenty of pride at stake as David Rudisha returned to the scene of his world-record-breaking Olympic triumph.
Nijel Amos chased him home on that day but it was the Botswanan who was too good this afternoon, outkicking the Kenyan in the home straight to win in 1:44.57.
Rudisha still looks a shadow of his 2012 best, but he held on to take second from the fast-finishing Pole Adam Kszczot in 1:44.67.
There was a meeting record in the women’s 200m, another non-Diamond Race event, when Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson ran a meeting record of 22.10 to beat Tori Bowie.
Thompson took 0.27 from her personal best and moved to fourth on the 2015 world list.
Bowie was second in 22.32 while behind her Sanya Richards-Ross ran 22.87 in seventh and Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill produced her third season’s best of the meeting, running 23.49 in eighth.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF