Noah Lyles en route to his 100m win in Szekesfehervar (© Bob Ramsak)
Noah Lyles closed his abbreviated 2020 season with an impressive double dash victory to highlight the tenth edition of the Gyulai Memorial, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on Wednesday (19).
In the 100m, it was no contest by the midway point, as Lyles, racing with a black glove on his right hand, found his rhythm en route to a 10.05 win. Sixty-five minutes later, he returned to the track for the 200m which he took with an equally graceful run, clocking 20.13.
“I was just out here to have fun,” Lyles said, explaining that he decided to double back after a training session last night left him energetic and feeling good. After his victory at the Monaco Diamond League meeting last week, Lyles said, “this was just icing on the cake. I don’t get to run two races very often so it was a lot of fun. Physically I feel healthy, which is the most important. Now it’s time to go home and get ready for next year.”
As he did in Monaco, Lyles raised his black-gloved fist into the air during his introduction before the 100m. He said he’s going to keep wearing it.
“The glove is a sign that we in the African-American community are struggling in America,” he said. "I have a platform and I intend to use it.”
Italy’s Eseosa Desalu was second in the 200m in 20.35, a season’s best. Adam Gemili, who was second in the 100m in 10.28, was third over the half lap in 20.56.
Lynna Irby, winner of the 400m in Monaco, fought off two-time world champion Dafne Schippers to win the women's 200m here, clocking 22.55.
Ortega out-leans Holloway
With the season’s four fastest men in the field, the showdown in the 110m hurdles was to be of the evening’s key attractions, and it lived up to expectations.
Grant Holloway got out well, building a clear lead by hurdle four and building on it over barriers five, six and seven. But then Orlando Ortega got to work, chipping away at the lead over hurdles eight and nine, running nearly even by the tenth before taking down the world champion on the lean by 0.01 in 13.21.
In the women’s sprint hurdles, Nadine Visser won her fifth race in as many starts this year, clocking 12.68 to equal her world lead set in Turku’s Continental Tour Gold stop last week.
She held off a strong challenge by Hungary’s Luca Kozak who closed hard to clock 12.71 to break the national record in her country’s biggest international invitational.
Further back, European champion Elvira Herman was third in 12.96.
Zango prevails in triple jump summit
African record-holder Hugues Fabrice Zango prevailed in the season’s finest gathering of triple jumpers, sailing to a 17.43m effort in the fourth round for the day’s only world lead. He was strong from the outset, reaching 17.40m in round two.
Christian Taylor reached 17.34m (twice) to finish second, just ahead of arch-rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Portugal who jumped 17.28m. Both were season's bests.
The women’s long jump also featured a close contest, with Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova notching a minor upset over Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk by one centimetre with a 6.77m best. That jump came in the first round but she was consistent, reaching 6.72m in the second round and 6.73m in the sixth.
Stahl’s momentum continues
Daniel Stahl continued his winning ways in the discus, edging Andrius Gudzius, the man he succeeded as world champion, by 23 centimetres with a 67.31m effort. Gudzius led early, if briefly, delivering his 67.08m best effort in the third round. But Stahl responded well, wrestling away the lead in the next round to seal his 11th straight victory.
Wojciech Nowicki prevailed in what may end up being the finest gathering of hammer throwers on the planet this year. The three-time world bronze medallist took command in the fifth round with a 78.07m effort to take the lead from home favourite Bence Halasz who reached 78.00m in round four. Both fouled in the final round giving the Pole the win.
Teenager Mykhaylo Kokhan of Ukraine improved to 77.78m to finish third ahead of four-time world champion Pawel Fajdek who threw 76.08m.
The meeting kicked off in the early afternoon with the women's hammer, where French record-holder Alexandra Tavernier prevailed. The 26-year-old shook the rust out with a 71.73m effort in the second round, to trail Pole Malwina Kopron by a single centimetre. She took command in the third round with a 73.09m effort to secure the win. Kopron improved to 72.00m, also in the third round, to finish second with Hanna Malyshchyk, the world leader, finishing third with a 70.59m best.
Brazier holds off Vasquez in 600m
The evening-capping men’s 600m turned out to be more of a race than an assault on Johnny Gray’s 1:12.81 world best set 34 years ago. As world 800m champion Donavan Brazier predicted, he had a strong contest on his hands with World Championships finalist Wesley Vasquez lined up next to him. The Puerto Rican star went out hard, led into the homestretch and looked to be on his way to victory until Brazier finally reeled him in over the final 30 metres. Brazier clocked 1:15.07, Vasquez 1:15.31.
Afternoon wind and rains impact 400m races
The strong shifting winds in the mid-afternoon, coupled with steady fits of chilly pelting showers, impacted most of the one-lap races.
Wadeline Jonathas won the women’s 400m in 52.09, edging Dutchwoman Lieke Klaver by a scant 0.02.
“It was really, really windy,” said Jonathas, the fourth-place finisher at last year’s World Championships. “And the rain was cool, like little pieces of ice."
Khamari Montgomery, last year’s NCAA champion, won the men’s race in 45.50, a season’s best for his first career international invitational victory in his last race of the season. Josephus Lyles, the younger of the Lyles brothers in attendence tonight, was second in 46.08.
World leader Femke Bol was also battered by the winds, but still won the women’s 400m hurdles by more than a second in 54.67. Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhkova was second in 55.86.
And earlier, David Kendziera won the men's 400m hurdles in 50.00.
Local restrictions force meeting behind closed doors
A recent tightening of restrictions on public gatherings forced organisers to hold the meeting with no spectators.
“Only two weeks before the meeting, we had to take the tough decision of staging the meet behind closed doors as we could only have allowed in a very small crowd based on local restrictions," meeting Managing Director Peter Deutsch said.
“Yet along the way we never lost sight of our goal, which is to organise a true athletics meeting, and not a downscaled version with empty lanes or individual performances spanned across continents and the internet.”
Deutsch said his team ensured that the safety of everyone involved in the meeting, especially the athletes, remained their primary objective.
“We truly are in a lucky situation that all athletes who arrived here have tested negative for the virus and by keeping the required social distancing in every area of the organisation, during transport, dining, training and competing, we intend on maintaining this healthy atmosphere.”
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics