USA’s Michael Norman produced the standout performance at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene on Saturday (28), the 24-year-old setting a Diamond League 400m record of 43.60 to beat Grenada's Kirani James (44.02) and Matthew Hudson-Smith, who broke the British record with 44.35.
On a cool, blustery afternoon at Hayward Field, with many outbreaks of heavy rain, Norman was one of many athletes who defied the conditions to make it another memorable edition of the Prefontaine Classic.
“I had zero expectation of what I could run today,” said Norman, who revealed he and coach Quincy Watts had gone “back to the basics” during their winter training. “Hard work and consistency with diet and training,” he said. “My motto this year has been that if it’s comfortable, it’s too easy – on the weight room or the track. Based on how I felt, there are a few areas I can improve on.”
Looking to next month’s US Championships and the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 on the same track in July, Norman said: “I’m going to train like I want to do something special, and when the time comes, the time comes.”
Kenya's Faith Kipyegon was equally peerless when taking the women’s 1500m in commanding fashion, the Olympic champion tracking chief rival Gudaf Tsegay until the final turn, at which point she blew by and came home a clear winner in a world lead and meeting record of 3:52.59. Tsegay got second in 3:54.21 with Canada’s Gabriela Debues-Stafford third in 3:58.62.
“The race today gave me great morale that everything I’m doing is correct towards the World Championships – that’s my biggest fish and I hope for the best, for the gold medal,” said Kipyegon, who is “going to think about” a world record attempt at 1500m later in the summer. “I was not expecting (to run 3:52) when I saw the rain this morning, but I felt comfortable. It was good.”
USA's Ryan Crouser produced by far the standout performance in the field events, the Olympic shot put champion looking utterly peerless when launching a world-leading 23.02m effort in the second round. That left him well clear of long-time rivals Joe Kovacs (22.49m) and Tom Walsh (21.96m).
What made it more impressive is that Crouser did not use his full technique, but threw off a “static” starting position, which prior to today had never produced a 23-metre effort. Crouser said he usually throws 40-60cm farther when utilising his full technique.
“I thought 23 was possible but I thought I’d have to get into my full (technique) to do it,” said Crouser. “My best static ever was in the 22.90s. To throw a static PR, under a heavy load, without a taper, is a really good indicator of where I can be seven or eight weeks from now.”
Berihu Aregawi turned in a superb solo performance to take the men’s 5000m in a meeting record and world lead of 12:50.05, coming home well clear of fellow Ethiopians Samuel Tefera (13:06.86) and Selemon Barega (13:07.30). Aregawi swept to the front in the third kilometre after the pacers stepped aside and the Ethiopian broke clear of the field, powering through to the final laps to a rapturous reception from the crowd, which historically loves displays of fearless distance running.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos achieved another dominant performance, clocking a world-leading 47.23 to come home a distant winner ahead of USA’s Khalifah Rosser and Quincy Hall, who both clocked personal bests of 48.10.
“I’m happy with this, but I want more, I want to go faster,” said Dos Santos. “Me and (Rai) Benjamin never win against (Karsten) Warholm, and nobody wants to lose, but it’ll be hard for us to come up against him at the World Championships and win. He is the boss, the guy to beat, and for winning the final you need to run 45 (seconds) – everyone is so strong.”
Sprint queen Elaine Thompson-Herah once again asserted her supremacy with a comfortable win in the 100m, clocking 10.79 (0.7m/s) to beat Sha’Carri Richardson, who bounced back to form with a 10.92 clocking to edge Shericka Jackson, who was third in 10.92. Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith was fourth with 10.98.
“I’m happy to cross the line healthy and with the win,” said Thompson-Herah, who explained prior to the event that she’d been managing a niggle in training. “It got me ready for my championship in Jamaica next month.”
USA’s Trayvon Bromell laid down a big marker ahead of next month’s US Championships by defeating his chief rivals in the 100m, pulling clear to take a comfortable win in 9.93 (-0.2m/s). Fred Kerley was next best with 9.98, while Christian Coleman faded from first at halfway to third at the finish, clocking 10.04 just ahead of Noah Lyles (10.05).
"I really just wanted to come out with the win as I knew the wind was iffy today," said Bromell. "There were some technical things I wanted to do better with but I just have to go back to the drawing board and try to fix it."
Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn came from behind to score an impressive win in the 100m hurdles, a non-Diamond League event, the Puerto Rican clocking 12.45 into a slight headwind (-0.7m/s) with Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan second in 12.58 and USA’s Tonea Marshall third in 12.66.
“It was a little sloppy,” said Camacho-Quinn. “I hit my trail leg a couple of times and that slowed me up, but I’ll take it. I went 12.4 in these conditions.”
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was a clear winner of the women’s 200m in 22.41 (0.8m/s), with USA’s Brittany Brown second in 22.74 and Anthonique Strachan of Bahamas third in 22.76.
Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen re-asserted his supremacy in the Bowerman mile, the Olympic champion breaking clear with a lap to run and coming home a comfortable winner in a world lead of 3:49.76, with Australia’s Ollie Hoare second in a PB of 3:50.65 and world champion Timothy Cheruiyot third in 3:50.77.
“It was a great race – I’m where I’m supposed to be,” said Ingebrigtsen, who will “for sure” double over 1500m and 5000m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. Looking towards the European Championships in Munich, he said he’d “love to do 800m, 1500m, steeplechase, 5km, 10km and marathon, but I don’t think that’s possible with the schedule.”
He will next race over 800m before competing at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Oslo on 16 June.
Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson utilised her typical sit-and-kick tactics to great effect to take the women’s 800m, the Olympic silver medallist powering clear of race leader Natoya Goule entering the home straight and holding off the late surge of world indoor champion Ajee Wilson to win in a world lead of 1:57.72, with Wilson second in 1:58.06 and Raevyn Rogers third in 1:58.44.
Olympic champion Athing Mu was a late withdrawal after contracting Covid-19, but Hodgkinson is looking forward to renewing their rivalry in July.
“It would have been good if she was here, but she’s going to be there at the World Champs and I’m sure we’ll have a good duel then – I look forward to racing her,” said Hodgkinson. “I felt really good, it was a bit windy out there but there was good competition, it was a good run. I can’t complain.”
Sweden’s Khaddi Sagnia unleashed a PB of 6.95m (1.0m/s) to take victory in the women’s long jump, with Nigeria’s Ese Brume second with 6.82m and USA’s Tara Davis third with 6.73m.
Norah Jeruto, the Kenyan-born athlete who now represents Kazakhstan, produced an impressive display to win the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 8:57.97, a world lead. Bahrain’s Winfred Mutile Yavi was close behind in second, clocking a PB of 8:58.71, while Ethiopia’s Mekides Abebe was third in 9:03.26.
In the men’s 1500m, a non-Diamond League event, New Zealand’s Samuel Tanner took victory in a PB of 3:34.37 in front of Britain’s Neil Gourley, who clocked a PB of 3:34.85.
Italy’s Martina Caironi set a world record of 14.02 in the T63 women’s 100m, while in the men’s T62 400m, Germany’s Johannes Floors took the win in 48.13.
Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics