Spikes10 Sep 2015

Diamond Moments


5 Diamonds

The Diamond League season drew to a close for another year in Brussels on Friday (11 September). Here are five of our favourite moments from the 2015 circuit.

1. Men’s Triple Jump, Doha

Over 18s only

After seeing the men’s high jump bar go up and up and up and up in recent years, we tentatively dubbed 2015 the year of the jumps and waited for the firework display. In Doha, the first Diamond League meet of the year, we were treated to a exhibition of wondrous jumping, just not in the event we expected.

Only five men have exceeded the 18-metre mark in the history of the triple jump, and two did so for the first time in Doha. Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo became the fourth man in history to notch an eighteen-plusser with a third round 18.06m. Olympic champion Christian Taylor unleashed a personal best 18.04m for his final attempt to make it a club of five.

With that, Doha became the only competition in history where 18m has been surpassed by two men. It set the trend for the season-long battle between the two, reaching a nadir in Beijing last month when Taylor won gold with a mind-blowing 18.21m. The American then wrapped up the Diamond Race title in the Brussels decider with a 17.59m best jump.

2. Women’s 5000m, Shanghai

All on her own

Few would have predicted Almaz Ayana’s 5000m performance in Shanghai. The Ethiopian took the initiative and the lead after 2000m, and by 3000m she was running all on her own.

With the field completely spread, Ayana was easy to pick out as she glided past straggler after straggler. The 23-year-old's pacing was fast if a little erratic, and she crossed the line in 14:14.32 – the third fastest time in history.

Ayana said afterwards that she didn't realise how fast she was running, and that if she'd known the world record was within touching distance (three seconds) she would have run faster. But it wasn't a fluke: in Beijing, she proved herself against the best in the world, winning gold from much fancied Genzebe Dibaba. It was in Shanghai that the seeds of the victory were sewn.

3. Men’s Javelin, Birmingham

It's a big one from Yego

Three different leaders, the longest throw in nine years and a small slice of controversy made for a captivating javelin contest in Birmingham.

Julius Yego led early with an 85.95m. That was then eclipsed by Kershon Walcott’s 86.43m, only for Yego to respond instantly with an effort that sailed out 10cm further than the Olympic champion’s.

In the final round, world champion Vitezslav Vesely took the lead with a huge 88.18m. But Kenyan Yego again responded, unleashing a monster that was so big it landed beyond the sector lines. The red flag was raised, but officials measured the throw anyway. Yego appealed the decision and after 20 minutes of deliberation, the 91.39m throw was given as legal, handing Yego an African record, a world lead and a momentous win.

It remained the best throw of the year until Yego himself threw 92.72m to win at the world champs.

4. Women’s 1500m, Monaco

Breaking the unbreakable

Yunxia Qu’s 1500m world record, 3:50.46 set in 1993, was labelled unbreakable. In the 22 years since Qu's mark was set, no woman got within half a second of it.

Genzebe Dibaba has little regard for records – she’s broken four of them indoors in the last two years. In Monaco she got faster each lap and clocked a WR 3:50.07. We could talk about her negative splits, the fact that behind her eight of the top nine set PBs, or even tell you about her win at the world champs. But there isn’t really any need for further explanation. Just watch the race.

5. Women’s Triple Jump, Brussels

Life starts at thirty

You have to wind the YouTube clock back to London 2012 to find a women’s triple jump competition that Caterine Ibarguen hasn’t won. In Brussels, she ensured that she finished her season unbeaten for the third successive year, extending her winning streak to 30 straight contests.

The Colombian made us sweat before writing this paragraph though, having to use her very last jump of 14.60m to leapfrog from third to first. It wasn't a mammoth leap, but it was good enough to get the job done and that's what Ibarguen is all about.

She does it all with a massive smile on her face, as if pressure isn't something she's even aware of. Mind you, you would if owned an event to the extend she does. In Brussels she underlined that very fact.