Andre De Grasse wins the 100m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm (© Giancarlo Colombo)
Andre De Grasse took advantage of a huge following wind in Stockholm at the sixth IAAF Diamond League meeting of the season to run a faster 100m than he has ever previously managed, his 9.69 comfortably topping this year’s world list, albeit annulled for record purposes by the 4.8m/s of wind assistance at his back, way in excess of the allowable limit of 2.00m/s.
It was nevertheless a timely further boost for the 22-year-old Canadian, who took Olympic 100m bronze and silver over 200m, as he heads towards next weekend’s World Championships trials back home.
“It was a shock to me when I saw the time on the board, I just wanted to run sub 10 and I didn't feel in the shape to run that fast,” he said after his startling effort at the Bauhaus-Galan on Sunday (18).
“I'm really happy about it, it's a good start to the season. I'm just looking forward to running that fast legally. I had a great start; I felt pretty good coming out, so I knew I had my top-end speed coming out, I just had to hold it and finish strong.
“I felt the wind when we lined up at the start line but when we went into the blocks and started racing I didn't really feel the wind,” added De Grasse, who has a wind-legal PB of 9.91. “That's the fastest I've ever run, it's going to be a shock to the body. Tomorrow's going to hurt a little bit, but I’m just looking forward to the next race and see what I can do legally.”
The amiable De Grasse was assisted in the closing stages by the determined challenge of Ivory Coast’s Ben Youssef Meite. On a day when the wind gave everyone in the field fantasy figures, Meite clocked 9.84.
In third place, with a time of 9.89, was Jamaica’s Ryan Shields, who had qualified for one of the three empty places left in the elite race by winning the B race in 10.19. Had you told him before he arrived at the stadium that he would be leaving with third place in the top race, and a time of 9.89, he would no doubt have laughed in your face.
There were only to have been two places to fill in the final, but two became three following the precautionary withdrawal of Britain’s Adam Gemili with a niggle behind his knee.
Aside from Shields, the other two who rose to the challenge were Germany’s Julian Reus (10.21), and Austin Hamilton of Sweden with a personal best of 10.35.
Cheruiyot clocks world lead
Immediately before De Grasse’s fast flourish, Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya won the men’s 1500m in a world-leading 3:30.77 in a race which indicated his illustrious compatriot and triple world champion Asbel Kiprop still has a way to go if he is to win a fourth consecutive title in London this summer.
The 21-year-old Cheruiyot finished seventh in the 2015 World Championships final where Kiprop last struck gold, but here he earned greater rewards as he took control of the race around the final bend, holding off the challenge of Bahrain’s Alsadik Mikhou, who was second in 3:31.49, and Ethiopia’s Aman Wote, third in a season’s best of 3:31.63 and just ahead of Kiprop, whose time of 3:33.17 was also a season’s best.
Norway’s 16-year-old wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen was the last man home. After the triumphs and garlands of his U20 Dream Mile victory on home soil in Oslo, where he had reduced his personal best to 3:56.29, he experienced the other side of athletics as he finished more than 30 metres adrift of the field. His dogged finish saw him rewarded with another significant personal best of 3:39.92, a European age-16 best and well inside his previous PB of 3:42.44.
“I am very happy,” said Cheruiyot. “The race went to plan – I tried to go at 300m. I’ll go back to Kenya now and prepare for the World Champs trials. I will be really happy if I can make it to London. This was good preparation for this.”
Karsten Warholm went through the crowd-rousing routine again here, three days after his landmark 400m hurdles win in Oslo. The 21-year-old former decathlete had warned after that effort that he might find the batteries a little flat for the follow-up, but he gave an indication of his attitude as he boarded the bus to the stadium, responding to a question by announcing: “I am always trying my best.”
Once again his best was good enough to win, as he reproduced the aggressive tactics he had employed at the Bislett Stadium, running in the same position, lane seven, and closing up the stagger on the man outside him – Britain’s Jack Green – by the start of the back straight before maintaining his form all the way down the home straight before crossing in 48.82.
Rasmus Magi of Estonia was second in 49.16, 0.02 ahead of Turkey’s Olympic bronze medallist Yasmani Copello with Green taking fourth in 49.29.
Astonishingly, given his extended recuperation period after his Oslo win, Warholm looked relatively sprightly immediately after crossing the line, holding up his finger to denote victory before springing up from his haunches. Perhaps the 10-minute prostration in the Bislett Stadium was a measure of how much emotional energy he had invested into that race.
Sweden’s Lovisa Lindh gave everything in the final straight of the concluding women’s 800m in an effort to win, and to better the national record of 1:59.20 that she had missed by 0.03 in Oslo three nights earlier.
She was frustrated in both cases, as Burundi’s Olympic silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba, beaten in Oslo by Olympic champion Caster Semenya, took advantage of the South African’s absence to claim maximum points in a time of 1:59.11, with Lindh finishing second in 1:59.41 ahead of Switzerland’s Selina Buchel, who clocked 1:59.66 to finish ahead of Canada’s world silver medallist Melissa Bishop, who ran 1:59.70.
“It is good to win,” said Niyonsaba. “It has given me even more motivation. The race went to plan. There is definitely more to come. It does not matter that it is a short turn around (after Oslo) because it is good preparation. I am going to go into a hard training block now for London. I have no more races planned. I am ready for London. I am full of confidence.”
The Swedish flag was able to be brandished on the night, however, as Meraf Bahta won the 3000m, not an IAAF Diamond League event, in 8:47.07.
Narrow victories for Ortega and Ahoure
Spain’s Olympic 110m silver medallist Orlando Ortega earned a narrow victory from world champion Sergey Shubenkov, competing here as a neutral, as he clocked 13.09 (3.5m/s) to win by 0.01.
For Shubenkov it was an encouraging indication that his world title defence in London will be a serious one.
Ortega’s task was simplified by the disqualification of Britain’s European indoor champion, Andrew Pozzi, for the first of two false starts, the other disqualifying Antonio Alkana of South Africa.
Steven Gardiner of The Bahamas underlined his status as one of the sport’s rising talents as he won the men’s 400m with ease in 44.58, having time to raise both hands as he crossed the line in almost leisurely fashion.
The 1.96m (6ft 5in) athlete had been chased down the final straight by Oslo’s winner, Baboloki Thebe of Botswana, who was second in 44.99 ahead of Belgium’s Kevin Borlee, who recorded a season’s best of 45.47.
“I thought my performance was really good; it was a bit windy on the backstretch but overall I ran a good race,” said Gardiner. “My plans for the rest of the season are to stay health and go for the win.”
Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure, the clear favourite in the women’s 200m, came good with a season’s best of 22.68, but she finished only 0.01 ahead of Canada’s fast-starting Crystal Emmanuel, who recorded a personal best, as did third-placed Rebekka Haase of Germany, who clocked 22.76.
Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco claimed the men’s 3000m steeplechase maximum points as he won in 8:15.01, with Yemane Haileselassie of Eritrea second in 8:18.29 and third place going to Kenya’s Nicholas Kiptanui Bett, who clocked 8:21.98.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF