Blessing Okagbare on her way to winning the 100m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai (© Errol Anderson)
Both the women’s 100m and the men’s long jump were billed as loaded events in the lead-up to the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai on Sunday (17).
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, no less, said that the 100m line-up “compares to the final you’re likely to get in (Beijing) 2015.”
Li Jinzhe, one of China’s great hopes for Beijing and Rio 2016, echoed such thoughts about the long jump.
“You can regard this as a final of a World Championships,” he said.
In that case, Blessing Okagbare and Aleksandr Menkov can regard themselves as putative world champions, having taken the wins on the night.
Okagbare did it easily, beating last year’s world leader Tori Bowie by almost a metre, 10.98 to 11.07. Fraser-Pryce trailed home in fifth place.
In a result worth of any final, Menkov took a much closer long jump competition in which the first four men were within six centimetres, the first three within two.
Menkov’s winning distance was 8.27m, his best jump since winning the world title in 2013. World leader Jeff Henderson jumped 8.26m and 18-year-old Wang Jianan was third with an Asian junior record of 8.25m. World indoor silver medallist Li finished ‘all the way back’ in fourth place with 8.21m.
“My race was pretty good,” Okagbare said. “It is not easy to compete with the best of the world – but I won. I focused on my start. Normally I don’t have the best start, but now I was leading from the beginning.”
Fraser-Pryce was not overly concerned with her 11.25 opener.
“It was one of those races,” she said. “I have time to get it right.”
Asked if she wold now have her work cut out in defending her title in Beijing later in the year, Fraser-Pryce said: “I always have my work cut out. No one hands anything to you.”
Henderson led the men’s long jump from the first round to the fifth, his 8.26m coming on his first attempt. Menkov worked his way into contention, his winning jump coming in the fifth round. Both Chinese jumpers had their best efforts in the fourth round in a competition that swung any number of ways.
Olympic champion Greg Rutherford finished seventh with 8.05m on his first-round attempt, his lowest placing in a final since July 2012. The remainder of his series was four fouls and a run-through 6.52m.
Caterine Ibarguen led the women’s triple jump from start to finish, showing remarkable consistency early in unpredictable wind conditions – 14.68m, 14.70m, 14.68m and 14.71m on her first four jumps, before nearing her world lead with 14.85m in the fifth round.
Olga Saladukha closed with a 14.62m to take second place and Olga Rypakova produced a 14.38m for third.
Lu Huihui made it two home wins on the night, taking the women’s javelin with a meeting record of 64.08m. Sunette Viljoen beat Kim Mickle for second place on second-best throw after both had a best effort of 63.60m.
Returning world champion Christina Obergfoll, having her first competition since the birth last year of her first child, was sixth with a best distance of 62.08m.
Another world champion, Eunice Sum of Kenya, won the 800m in 2:00.28, some four metres clear of Malika Akkaoui and Janeth Jepkosgei.
The cool conditions may have impacted on times in the men’s 400m but there was no denying the class of Kirani James. The Olympic champion won easily in 44.66 from Tony McQuay (45.54) and world champion LaShawn Merritt (45.58).
Piotr Malachowski, having his first competition of the year, took a long time to shake off the cobwebs in the discus. But he finally got it together on his sixth and final throw, producing a 64.65m effort which took him past Polish team-mate Robert Urbanek who had led since the second round with 64.47m.
“I am very happy with my first competition,” said Malachowski. “But 64 metres is very bad for me. I will need to throw farther this year.”
Len Johnson for the IAAF