Bogdan Bondarenko at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne (© Giancarlo Colombo)
World high jump champion Bohdan Bondarenko has fond memories of Athletissima as the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne was where, last year, he first broke through into 2.40m territory.
The Ukrainian returned to the Swiss city on Thursday (3) and successfully defended his Athletissima title.
His winning height of 2.40m was just one centimetre lower than his clearance from 12 months ago, but his victory was just as meaningful, given the quality of the field he defeated.
Four men cleared 2.38m, surpassing the record set earlier this year in Doha for the best ever depth in a high jump competition.
The biggest surprise came in the form of Bondarenko’s compatriot Andrey Protsenko, who became the latest member of the 2.40m club. The world indoor bronze medallist is now the sixth man this year to scale that height, indoors or out.
Bondarenko waited until the bar was at 2.29m before entering the competition. For a moment, he looked to be in danger too as he opened with two failures, but he successfully negotiated the bar on his third try to stay in the competition.
World indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim had a similar scare at that height, also needing three attempts to get over it.
Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard snatched the lead at the next height, 2.32m, with a first-time clearance as Bondarenko, Barshim and London 2012 Olympic Games champion Ivan Ukhov passed.
Kynard then exited at 2.35m, but Barshim, Bondarenko, Protsenko, Ukhov and world bronze medallist Derek Drouin all sailed over on their first attempt.
It was clear that the field was still some way off the winning height.
Drouin was the next to go out of the competition, missing twice at 2.38m and once at 2.40m. Bondarenko passed that bar as Barshim, Ukhov and Protsenko flopped over with one jump each.
Barshim, who didn’t appear to be quite as slick as he was at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York where he cleared an Asian record of 2.42m, bowed out at 2.40m.
Ukhov passed at that height while Bondarenko got over it on his second try.
Then – astoundingly – so did Protsenko with his final attempt.
Ukhov ended with three failures at 2.42m, while Bondarenko rounded out his series with another trio of unsuccessful tries at a world record height of 2.46m.
“Tonight the atmosphere was great and I really enjoy coming back to Lausanne,” said Bondarenko. “In training I wasn’t jumping that high, maybe 2.25m, but the competition and the crowd really make me jump better.”
Ahye makes her mark, world lead from Gatlin
Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye had never before competed in an IAAF Diamond League meeting but the 22-year-old wasn’t intimidated by lining up against the likes of double world silver medallist Murielle Ahoure and world 200m bronze medallist Blessing Okagbare over 100m.
After a relatively poor start, the diminutive Ahye drew level with Ahoure and stole victory on the line as both athletes were timed at 10.98.
Ahye had recently run 0.13 quicker in more favourable conditions to win her national title, but it was a season’s best for Ahoure.
“Tonight I felt really good and very pleased to have won my first Diamond League event,” said Ahye. “The time was good and I’m happy to go under 11 seconds. I know that if I can get the first 20-30 metres right, I can run a good race.”
In the men’s 100m – a non-Diamond League event in Lausanne – world silver medallist Justin Gatlin sped to a world-leading 9.80, the second-fastest time of his career, to finish ahead of compatriot Tyson Gay, who was second in 9.93.
The pre-race focus of the men’s 200m had been on the return of double Olympic silver medallist Yohan Blake, but the Jamaican was relegated to an also-ran as Panama’s Alonso Edward stole the show.
The 2009 world silver medallist has managed to recapture his best form of five years ago and sped to victory in 19.84, just 0.03 shy of the best he set as a teenager at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.
With it, Edward jumped to the top of the Diamond Race standings.
Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade clocked 20.06 in second place as Christophe Lemaitre set a season’s best of 20.11 in third. Tying up before the line, Blake was a distant sixth in 20.48.
Kwemoi surprises and Ibarguen ties world lead
Ronald Kwemoi may not be a household name, but the 18-year-old Kenyan has never lost a 1500m race.
He maintained that record in Lausanne when stunning a quality field that included 2011 world silver medallist Silas Kiplagat, Ethiopian record-holder Aman Wote, USA’s world silver medallist Matt Centrowitz and Morocco’s former world indoor champion Abdalaati Iguider.
Led by the pacemakers through 800m in 1:51.06 and 1200m in 2:50.06, Kwemoi kicked hard on the final lap to edge ahead of Kiplagat. Unstoppable, the teenager continued to charge towards the line and stopped the clock at 3:31.48, the fastest time in the world by a junior for 10 years.
Kiplagat finished a few strides behind in 3:31.81 with another Kenyan, James Magut, taking third in 3:31.91.
World champion Caterine Ibarguen showed no signs of surrendering her winning streak in the triple jump. The 30-year-old led from the outset, and each time Russia’s world indoor champion Yekaterina Koneva challenged, the Colombian responded.
Ibarguen improved with each of her first four jumps, eventually landing at 14.87m to equal her own world-leading mark. She has not lost since taking the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, while Koneva ultimately had to settle for second place with 14.67m.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF