Report30 Aug 2018

Gong retains shot put title in Brussels - IAAF Diamond League


Lijiao Gong winning the Diamond League shot put title in Brussels (© Gladys Chai von der Laage)

Lijiao Gong successfully defended her Diamond League title in the shot put, prevailing in a see-saw battle with US champion Raven Saunders.

Shaking out the rust with an 18.70m opening round effort, Gong improved to 19.39 in the second round and 19.56 in the third to take control.

German Christina Schwanitz, the European silver medallist, responded well, reaching 19.50m to shadow the Chinese in second.

But Saunders, who last competed in Monaco where she finished third, responded even better, launching a towering toss that landed at 19.64m on the elevated landing area in the center of the Belgian capital's historic Grand Place. It was just three centimetres shy of her season's best and immediately put the pressure on the reigning world champion.

Energised, Gong improved to 19.61m in the fourth round, before following up with a 19.83m effort that deflated the rest of field, sealing Gong's 11th straight victory, her second straight Diamond League Trophy and a winner's check for $US50,000.

Neither Saunders nor Schwanitz improved over the final two rounds to finish second and third with Aliona Dubitskaya of Belarus, the European bronze medallist, rounding out the top-four with a 19.01m best. Fittingly for a season-ending competition, the Brussels street shot marked the first time this year that four women threw beyond 19 metres in the same competition.

Further back, Pole Paulina Guba, the European champion, was fifth with 18.54.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF