Mondo Duplantis at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Stockholm (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)
Whenever and wherever he is in any track and field arena, Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis is an athlete that grabs the attention. And it was never truer than at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on Sunday (2).
Expectations are always high on Duplantis, particularly when competing in his home country at the annual BAUHAUS-galan event.
On an evening of mostly persistent, and occasionally torrential, rain, the men’s pole vault was delayed by two hours. And when the rain finally cleared, with the rest of the programme completed almost 90 minutes earlier, Duplantis was the last athlete standing, pushing the bar ever upwards.
With ABBA’s ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ on the playlist and an adoring home crowd chanting for more, it created a unique atmosphere under the floodlights at the Olympic Stadium.
Duplantis tried to give the supporters what they craved most: another world record from a national hero in the national capital. Three times he attempted 6.23m, only getting off the ground during his final try.
In the end, he had to settle for another dominant Diamond League victory with a first-time clearance at 6.05m, following similarly successful routine clearances over 5.62m, 5.82m and 5.95m
World bronze medallist Ernest John Obiena of Philippines was next best with 5.82m and Norway’s Pal Haugen Lillefosse third with 5.72m.
"I found some rhythm on the runway, despite the cold," said Duplantis. "It was not the weather we wanted, of course, but I always want to jump well at every meeting, but especially here as this is the most important meet, outside of the World Championships, for me in the year.
"Mentally I felt I was there and in with a chance of the world record, which is why I wanted to go for it, as well as for the people that had stayed so long into the evening to see me. I wanted to get closer to it, but maybe the conditions and tiredness caught up with me in the end there. I was really fired up and felt I could conquer the world."
Another Scandinavian superstar – Olympic champion and world record-holder Karsten Warholm – gave his typical full-blooded effort in the 400m hurdles. Perceptibly clear by the second barrier, he stretched his lead hurdle by hurdle and finished clear in 47.57.
Karsten Warholm wins the 400m hurdles in Stockholm (© Thomas Windestam / Diamond League AG)
In a race affected by protesters near the finish line, the Norwegian was largely unimpeded in the outside lane. Kyron McMaster of British Virgin Islands was second in 48.94 and Estonia’s Rasmus Magi third in 49.04.
Afterwards, the world record-holder said: “I felt very good before the start, but the conditions make it a little bit more challenging. I got to post another good time, so I am very pleased. I am 100% exactly where I want to be.”
The men’s discus was the highest quality competition of the whole day. World champion Kristjan Ceh posted four throws beyond 65 metres, his best effort being a second round 69.83m, just 19cm shy of his own meeting record.
Home favourite and Olympic champion Daniel Stahl only landed one valid throw, a second round 67.57m. But it was good enough for second place. Lithuania’s 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius was third with 67.19m.
“The rain did not bother me because I have a really good discus grip. My technique was also almost perfect and I really had the power today to throw over 70,” said Ceh. “I got 69 metres twice, so it shows a really good consistency.”
The most decorated Diamond League athlete in history, Sandra Perkovic, has seen it all and done it all. And that experience paid rich dividends in the women’s discus as she made light of the rain to claim a record-extending 46th Diamond League victory.
She had the two longest throws of the competition, the Croat’s best being a second round 64.49m.
Discus star Sandra Perkovic competes in Stockholm (© Thomas Windestam / Diamond League AG)
“This victory means a lot for me, because it's my 70th Diamond League and 46th win and 67th on the podium,” said the two-time Olympic champion. “After 13 years I am still here winning Diamond Leagues.
“I have all those numbers in mind, of course, because in athletics everything is about numbers. Stockholm is always special for me, and I want to thank the amazing crowd because without them, it wouldn't have been possible to have so many good throws.
“After so many years on the circuit I am getting cautious about everything. So, of course, I had like four towels in my bag and lots of magnesium. But the most important thing is to believe in yourself. It doesn't matter what the weather is.”
After finishing fourth in the shot put earlier in the meeting, Netherlands’ Jorinde Van Klinken followed up her win in Oslo with a solid second place in 62.96m. Germany’s Olympic silver medallist Kristin Pudenz was third with 62.33m.
Olympic champion Valarie Allman’s competition ended after she failed to register a mark after three attempts.
In the first event of the day, 2019 world silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd landed a best of 19.04m in the final round to edge European champion Jessica Schilder by 1cm in the women’s shot. Sweden’s Fanny Roos was third with 18.75m.
With the rain making life difficult, top-class high jumping was always going to be a challenge. New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr made the best of the testing conditions. A second-time clearance of 2.24m was good enough to earn him his first Diamond League victory. Belgium’s Thomas Carmoy was next best with 2.20m and Ukraine’s world bronze medallist Andrii Protsenko was third in 2.16m.
There was another slight surprise in the women’s long jump, Italy’s Larissa Iapichino grabbing her second Diamond League win of the season with 6.69m (0.4m/s). Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany had to settle for second with 6.66m (0.2m/s), while world indoor champion Ivana Vuleta of Serbia was third with a best of 6.58m (1.1m/s).
Dina Asher-Smith suffered an upset defeat at the hands of British teammate Daryll Neita in the women’s 200m. The 2019 world champion led out of the bend, but Neita stuck to her task and her strength told, as she won by 22.50 (-0.6m/s), 0.08 clear of Asher-Smith. Spain’s Jael Bestue was third in 22.59.
Daryll Neita claims 200m triumph in Stockholm (© Thomas Windestam / Diamond League AG)
Olympic and world finalist Akani Simbine of South Africa made it three wins in a row in the men’s 100m, following victories in Kladno and Ostrava. He was a clear winner in 10.03 (1.0m/s) from Britain’s Reese Prescod and Germany’s Joshua Hartmann in 10.14 and 10.23, respectively.
There was another surprise in the men’s 400m, Zakithi Nene bouncing back from placing seventh in Oslo to winning the one-lap battle with more illustrious names. He clocked 45.30 to see off NCAA champion Emmanuel Bamidele of Nigeria and European champion Matthew Hudson-Smith, who were second and third in 45.48 and 45.57.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, European champion Pia Skrzyszowska looked to have the edge on world champion Tobi Amusan of Nigeria until clipping the eighth barrier. It presented Amusan with the win in 12.52 (0.9m/s), placing one better that she managed at the Lausanne Diamond League two days prior.
Ireland’s Sarah Lavin was a creditable second in a lifetime best of 12.73, with Poland’s Skrzyszowska hanging on for third in 12.78.
In the men’s 3000m steeplechase, Olympic and world champion Soufiane El Bakkali earned his second Diamond League success of the year, following his win on home turf in Rabat last month. Oozing strength and confidence, he tracked Olympic fourth-place finisher Getnet Wale of Ethiopia before taking charge on the last lap.
He stretched his lead with every barrier to win with plenty in hand in 8:09.84. Wale, admitting second best, finished in 8:12.27, and his Ethiopian teammate Abrham Sime was third in 8:16.82.
After placing third in Doha and second in Rabat, Freweyni Hailu finally nailed victory in the women’s 1500m. The Olympic and world fourth-place finisher grabbed the initiative with 200m to go and left a class field fighting for scraps. Diribe Welteji and Hirut Meshesha made it an Ethiopian sweep, finishing in 4:02.79 and 4:03.01 respectively. Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir began to falter on the back straight and trailed in sixth in 4:03.83.
Freweyni Hailu wins the 1500m in the rain in Stockholm (© Thomas Windestam / Diamond League AG)
There was a battle royal in the men’s 800m. Algeria’s Djamel Sedjati made his bid with 300 metres left and it looked premature as his legs began to give in the finishing straight. However, the chasing pack of Spain’s Saul Ordonez, France’s Gabriel Tual and Sweden’s Andreas Kramer were also feeling the fatigue and could not quite capitalise. Ordonez was second in 1:44.67, Tuel third in 1:44.84 and Kramer fourth in 1:45.01 in a blanket finish.
After finishing fifth in the mile at the Oslo Diamond League, Worknesh Mesele of Ethiopia returned to her favoured 800m distance to win in 2:00.05.
In the women’s 5000m, world silver medallist Beatrice Chebet of Kenya turned up the heat on the final lap, creating gaps down the back straight. Her searing finish took her to a season’s best of 14:36.52 to capture another Diamond League victory following her 3000m triumph in Oslo.
World indoor 3000m champion Lemlem Hailu held off her 18-year-old Ethiopian international teammate Medina Eisa for second. They clocked 14:38.06 and 14:40.02, respectively.
In the men’s 3000m, Emil Danielsson of Sweden timed his sprint to perfection and he won in a lifetime best of 7:39.70 from fellow Swede Andreas Almgren and France’s Jimmy Gressier, second and third in 7:40.01 and 7:40.21.
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics