The Diamond Race winners at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Mutaz Essa Barshim and Barbora Spotakova went to the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 as the bookmaker’s favourites for their events but failed to get a medal of any hue, however the pair got partial compensation at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday (3).
Barshim finished fourth in the Chinese capital but Qatar’s world indoor champion beat all three men who finished ahead of him on Sunday as he was the only man able to negotiate 2.32m in the cold and damp conditions at the Weltklasse Zurich meeting.
Three men went over 2.29m, Barshim and the Beijing joint silver medallists Bogdan Bondarenko and Zhang Guowei, with Bondarenko holding the best cards at this point as the only man with a clean slate.
However, Barshim regained the initiative when he scaled 2.32m with his first attempt. Jumping first, Bondarenko fouled his first attempt at this height and then passed to 2.34m while Zhang, who had needed all three attempts to get over 2.29m, brought the bar down three times.
At 2.34m, neither Barshim nor Bondarenko could clear the bar and so the victory and, thanks to the eight points for the win, the Diamond Race as well went to the Qatari.
Derek Drouin had a competition to forget after the delight and ecstasy of him taking the world title on Sunday. The Canadian cleared a modest 2.19m and then retired from the competition after one failed attempt at 2.23m.
With all the javelin throwers rather tentative on the wet run up, Spotakova redeemed herself after suffering all sorts of technical problems in Beijing, where she finished ninth. The world record-holder launched her implement out in the fourth round to 64.31m to win by more than a metre from Canada’s Liz Gleadle, who was second with 62.70m.
Germany’s surprise world champion Katharina Molitor was third with 62.43m and, like Drouin, clearly was finding it difficult to produce her best form after the emotional high of getting a gold medal on the global stage on Sunday.
Silva loses her Midas touch
Another Beijing world champion to come down to earth, albeit with less of a bump than Drouin and Molitor, was Cuban pole vaulter Yarisley Silva.
In an intriguingly tactical competition, three women were still in the competition with the bar at 4.72m.
Silva and 2011 world champion Fabiana Murer went over with their first attempt, after both women had endured problems at the previous height of 4.67m and failed twice.
Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou was also in the competition but failed with her first jump and then opted to take her remaining jumps when the bar was raised to 4.77m.
She then went straight over this height at the first time of asking, putting the pressure on her two rivals, who both failed once and then opted to follow the rising bar.
At 4.82m, all three women failed and so, like Barshim and Spotakova, Kyriakopoulou not only took the accolades on the night but also the Diamond Race.
Greg Rutherford, who had described himself the day before as “still having fire in my belly”, fared better than his three fellow world champions in the late-finishing field events, when he took the Zurich long jump contest with a fifth-round 8.32m.
Britain’s Olympic champion had taken the lead in the second round with 8.27m but then saw USA’s Marquis Dendy, who didn’t even make the final in Beijing, go out to 8.32m with his fourth effort.
Jumping last in the penultimate round, Rutherford equalled that distance and regained his place at the top of the field thanks to a better second effort.
After watching Dendy only reach 8.11m with his last jump, Rutherford passed his final attempt, secure in the knowledge that victory in Zurich and the Diamond Race was his. But he had a brief fright in the final round when world silver medallist Fabrice Lapierre uncorked a good jump; the Australian’s effort was measured at 8.27m and he finished third.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF