Maria Lasitskene wins the high jump at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm (© Giancarlo Colombo)
Maria Lasitskene underlined her position as overwhelming favourite to retain the world high jump title this summer as she produced her fifth jump this season of 2.00m or higher – easily enough to earn maximum IAAF Diamond League points in Stockholm at the Bauhaus Galan on Sunday (18).
Her nearest opposition, Poland’s 2014 joint world indoor champion Kamila Licwinko, took second place with a season’s best of 1.97m.
Lasitskene, who won in Beijing under her maiden name of Kuchina, has been in outstanding form since returning to international competition under a neutral banner. She gave credit for her performances on the eve of this meeting to her “genius” coach, but her achievements speak volumes too for her innate competitiveness.
After delaying her entrance to the competition until 1.85m, she proceeded with first-time clearances through 1.90m, 1.94m, 1.97m and 2.00m before coming to a halt at 2.06m, which was two centimetres higher than the personal best she achieved last week in Hengelo.
There were triumphs elsewhere in the competition as home jumper Sofie Skoog hit form in a big way to claim third place with 1.94m, equalling her personal best, with Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko fourth on the same height.
And Licwinko was in ebullient mood afterwards. “It was a very good jump for me, better than the last competition,” she said. “It was very close to 2.00m, I am very happy. It's a good season for me. In Beijing, 2.00m was a medal, in Rio it was 1.97m so you never know. I want and I dream for 2.00m and I hope I jump it in London.”
Perez pips Perkovic, Dacres defeats Stahl
Croatia’s queen of the discus, Sandra Perkovic, was temporarily displaced from her throne here by Cuba’s Yaimi Perez, whose season’s best effort of 67.92m in the first round proved enough to earn maximum points on the road to the final.
The double Olympic champion and five-time Diamond Trophy winner – already assured of a place in this season’s finale – had to settle for second on a frustrating day when she registered fouls in four of her six attempts, of which the best was her fifth-round effort of 67.75m, two metres farther than third-placed Nadine Muller of Germany.
For Perez, who reached last year’s Olympic final but failed to record a throw, it was a memorable triumph and just the second time she had defeated the Croatian following her victory in Lausanne two years ago. No doubt for Perkovic – whose marginal foul in the second round annulled an effort that appeared in the 70-metre territory – it will prove a spur to further excellence in the second half of the season.
Daniel Stahl produced his fifth 68-metre-plus discus throw of the season in an effort to produce a home victory for an Olympic Stadium crowd basking in brilliant sunshine, but fell marginally short as Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres, who leads this season’s world list with 68.88m, won with a fourth-round effort of 68.36m, his best ever throw outside Jamaica.
Stahl left his best effort to last but had to settle for second with 68.13m.
The 24-year-old Swede had arrived at this event having won his previous IAAF Diamond League outing in Oslo just three days earlier with 68.36m. That left him just four centimetres away from the mark set in this stadium in 1972 by his late compatriot Ricky Bruch, which was then a world record.
But on the day he fell slightly short of his ambitions, nevertheless finishing ahead of two Olympic champions – Germany’s Harting brothers Robert (2012) and Christoph (2016) were fifth and seventh with 66.20m and 61.75m, either side of Poland’s world champion Piotr Malachowski, whose best was 64.60m. For the first time since the 2012 Olympic final, four men threw beyond 67 metres.
Manyonga and Buchler leap to victory
The men’s long jump never quite ignited in the way that many had hoped, but it was nevertheless highly competitive as the man of the moment, South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, was able to master the windy conditions with a winning best of 8.36m (3.3m/s), achieved in his first round.
Try as they might, the rest of the field were unable to get past it – compatriot Ruswahl Samaai came closest, with 8.29m, while Radek Juska’s fifth-round effort of 8.09m gave him third place ahead of home athlete Michel Torneus, who finished fourth with 8.06m.
Manyonga paid a heavy price for his victory, however, as he injured his left ankle in the course of making his final jump and was taken to hospital. He re-appeared at the meeting hotel later in the evening, hobbling with a crutch, and while it has been confirmed he has not broken anything, he will require a further scan for possible ligament damage.
Cuba’s world champion Yarisley Silva, who had won in Oslo with a first-time effort of 4.81m before making three decent attempts at what would have been a national record of 4.92m, suffered different fortunes here as she failed to get past 4.65m.
And the athlete who was second in Oslo, Anzhelika Sidorova, competing under a neutral banner, also exited at 4.65m as gusting winds made vaulting conditions tricky.
That opened the way for Sweden’s 23-year-old European bronze medallist Angelica Bengtsson to set the home flags waving, as she and Switzerland’s Nicole Buchler both cleared 4.65m at the first attempt.
They were joined in the final stages by Venezuela’s Robeilys Peinado, whose 4.65m clearance at the second attempt was a national record.
Buchler failed with all three attempts at 4.75m, but Bengtsson, who had reached that point with fewer fouls, could only manage one attempt before retiring, thus giving the Swiss maximum points.
Despite the intense sunshine, the wind was stronger in Stockholm than it had been in Oslo three days earlier, and the national flags on the rim of the stadium were on almost constant display.
It was another relatively unhappy day for New Zealand’s Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney, who failed to register a mark in Oslo. She started cautiously with a first-time clearance of 4.20m but then failed to clear 4.40m.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF