Novlene Williams-Mills winning the 400m at the 2014 IAAF Diamond League in Oslo (© Mark Shearman)
Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills and Kaliese Spencer extended their current win streaks to three apiece at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games on a beautiful evening in Oslo at the IAAF Diamond League meeting In the Norwegian capital on Wednesday (11).
Williams-Mills may not have run a world lead but was mightily close when she won the 400m in 50.06, just 0.03 slower than Courtney Okolo’s time from Lubbock last month.
Just as significantly, Williams-Mills notched up her third consecutive victory over last year’s Diamond Race winner Amantle Montsho as the Botswanan athlete failed to win in Oslo for the first time in four appearances.
Montsho slipped to third in the finishing straight as USA’s Natasha Hastings finished second with 50.60 to Montsho’s 51.05.
“It is time to go under 50 now,” said Williams-Mills, whose personal best of 49.63 dates from 2006.
She will now head to the Jamaican Championships where she aims to qualify for July’s Commonwealth Games. “An even bigger goal for me is to win the Diamond Race,” she said.
Back in seventh place in 52.58, Britain’s Emily Diamond celebrated her 23rd birthday by making a little bit of history and becoming the first athlete with ‘Diamond’ in her name to race in the series.
Spencer also stretched her current win streak to three as she fought back over the final 150m of the 400m hurdles to beat Britain’s fast-starting Eilidh Child and Bahrain’s Doha winner Kemi Adekoya in 54.94, almost a second slower than she ran in Rome last week but then that’s not surprising as she flew back home to Jamaica for two days between the two meetings.
Running in lane four, Spencer was passed by Child in three at the 200m mark, with Adekoya ahead of her, but battled hard round the bend and pulled clear down the home straight as Adekoya challenged.
Adekoya was second just 0.02 behind while Child faded slightly to finish third in 55.33.
Spencer now has 14 points in the Diamond Race, eight ahead of Adekoya.
“Today it was only the victory that mattered,” said Spencer. “I ran a bad race and it was a very hard home stretch.”
Feat of Claye
It was victory that mattered to Will Claye too, as he pulled out a third straight triple jump win with the penultimate leap of the contest.
Claye’s winning jump was the climax of a tight tussle between USA and Cuba with the honours again going to the North American athletes as the Olympic silver medallist’s last-round leap relegated compatriot Christian Taylor to the runner-up spot for the third time in a row with Cuban pair Ernesto Reve and Lazaro Martinez filling third and fourth.
The American’s winning distance of 17.41m was not as far as the 17.66m he leapt to win in Eugene, but the 2012 world indoor champion is making a habit of pulling victory out of the bag and he had every reason to be happy after a hard-fought contest.
“I’m blessed,” said Claye. “Now I’ll try to win the whole series.”
Despite the warm sunshine, swirling winds played havoc with many of the field events but it was problems with the toe board that delayed the shot put contest for an hour.
The athletes spotted a loose bolt when they were warming up and disappeared while it was fixed.
When they returned, it was Joe Kovacs who took the win ahead of many better-known big men.
His winning effort of 21.14m was one of three beyond 21 metres as Germany’s two-time world champion David Storl took second by one centimetre from Reese Hoffa with 21.08m.
If the shot was close, then the javelin was closer still as Tero Pitkamaki celebrated the birth of his son two days ago by snatching a one-centimetre victory from Kenya’s Julius Yego with 84.18m.
Allyson Felix strode home in front in the women’s 200m. Her time may have been a modest 22.73, into a slight 0.6m/s headwind, but Felix looked more like her old self as she pulled gracefully away from the field down the home straight.
Great Britain’s former world junior 100m champion Jodie Williams was second in 22.97 with France’s Mayriam Soumare third in 22.98, just half an hour after she’d won a non-Diamond League 100m in 11.18.
Blanka Vlasic is another athlete aiming to get back to her best and the Croatian high jump star almost stole victory here when she matched Russia’s Mariya Kuchina in clearing 1.98m before the pair failed at 2.01m. A crowd favourite here, Vlasic has four previous Bislett victories to her name, but couldn’t make it five as Russia’s world indoor champion won on countback.
The presence of Carl Lewis in the stadium couldn’t inspire the men’s 100m runners to sub-10 times as Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson won by 0.02 in 10.02 from Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut.
Special mention must go to the men’s 400m hurdles, another non-Diamond League race, and to Ashton Eaton in particular, as the decathlon world record-holder followed up his 49.07 personal best in Hengelo last Sunday with a convincing win here in 49.16.
“Next time I want to break 49 seconds,” said Eaton. His next attempt will be at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, next week.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF