By Maddie Lang and Israel La Rue
The first day of The Prefontaine Classic featured some spectacular performances, including the third- and fourth-fastest men’s mile performances of all time, the second-fastest women’s steeplechase in history, six other national records and seven meet records.
The 12,364 spectators at Hayward Field on Saturday for the first Diamond League final to be held in the United States saw many tight competitions, including Jakob Ingebrigtsen battling Yared Nuguse in the Bowerman Mile (click here for the details) and pole vaulter Katie Moon getting a title of her own three weeks after sharing the world championship (click here for the details).
Women’s 1,500 meters
Faith Kipyegon ended her Diamond League season with a win and a meet record. She ran 3:50.72, breaking the record of 3:52.59 that she set a year ago.
Kipyegon’s Diamond League season has been full of records. She set three world records in the span of a month—1,500 meters (3:49.11), mile (4:07.64) and 5,000 meters (14:05.20). In between those world records and today’s Diamond League championship, Kipyegon also won two world titles in Budapest (1,500 and 5,000 meters).
“I was not going for the world record,” Kipyegon said. “But just wanted to finish the season in a good way.”
Kipyegon stuck to the pacesetter as soon as the gun went off, missing out on Laura Muir called a “scrappy start.” Muir finished in third with a season-best of 3:55.16.
Just as it’s been all season, it was clear that Kipyegon was far better than the competition on the very first lap of the race. Two laps in, Kipyegon was 10 meters ahead of Diribe Welteji, the Budapest silver medalist, who finished second in a personal best 3:53.93.
After the pacesetter stepped off the track three laps in, Kipyegon was 20 meters ahead of her competitors.
On the bell lap, Kipyegon’s lead just grew and grew as she kicked in the final 300 meters. As she came down the home straight with no one near her, she grimaced through the last 50 meters, breaking her own meet record.
Women’s shot put
All season long, Chase Ealey had wanted to break the American record. She finally achieved her goal – in the last meet of the season. “I held it off, didn’t I,” she said, laughing.
Her throw of 20.76m bested Michelle Carter’s record of 20.63, which she set on her final throw at the 2016 Olympics to win the gold medal.
Ealey, winner of the past two world championships, again excelled at Hayward Field. “There’s something about this stadium that brings it out of me,” she said. “ I love this stadium. It kind of feels good to do it here and bring it home all the time.”
Winfred Mutile Yavi beat the world record holder for the second time in three weeks, controlling the second half of the race to win in 8:50.66, a meet and Asian record – and the second fastest performance of all-time.
World-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech made two attempts to pass on the final lap, but she settled for second in a season’s best 8:51.67.
“Today I didn’t expect I did the second fastest time,” Yavi said. “I’m so happy, I’m excited at the same time.”
In Budapest, Chepkoech controlled much of race, but this time, Yavi did. She said strength training enabled her to run harder at the end of the race.
“I think this year has been precious,” she said.
Sanghyeok Woo tied his own South Korean high jump record with a jump of 2.35m, and Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas won the women’s triple jump in the fifth round with a meet-record jump of 15.35m.
Men’s 400 hurdles
The race came down to the final 100 meters, where Rai Benjamin, who took silver in Budapest, upset world champion Karsten Warholm with a Diamond League record of 46.39, also the fastest time in the world this season.
“I wasn’t expecting to run that fast,” Benjamin said. “I knew I could, but for me it was just closing the season.”
Norway’s Warholm took the lead by the first hurdle, making up the lane seven stagger. In the backstretch, Kyron McMaster started to make a move on the world record holder. At the 150-meter mark, Benjamin turned on the jets.
“Coach Watts told me, ‘Just run home and run off the turn and be the Rai Benjamin I know you are,’” Benjamin said. “I did just that and felt a gust coming off of [the 10th hurdle] and just ran home.”
Coming over the last hurdle, Benjamin caught up to Warholm. He sprinted the final 40 meters to beat Warholm by .14. Warholm’s time was 46.53.
“I think I came here running as good as I can,” Warholm said. “46.5—I would have been very happy to win with that time.”
Men’s 100 meters
Christian Coleman won with his usual explosive start and a less common strong finish. He finished in a time of 9.83, tying him with Noah Lyles and Zharnel Hughes for the fastest time in the world this season. He beat Lyles, who won both sprints at the World Athletics Championships, by .02.
“I feel like today I was supposed to win,” Coleman said. “I feel like it showed that I was able to stay composed and come out with the win.”
After a false start that eliminated Jamaica’s Ackeem Blake, Coleman and the rest of the field stepped into their blocks for a second time. At the sound of the gun, Coleman established a strong position by the 10-meter mark.
At the 50-meter mark, Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala started moving up on Coleman. With 10 meters to go, Lyles also made his move, positioning himself on the shoulder of Omanyala.
Coleman continued to push his pace and maintain his position, coming across the line first.
“This was a chance for me to redeem myself a little bit coming off of the world final,” said Coleman, who finished fifth in Budapest. “I’m excited to carry this on to next year.”
Lyles finished second in a time of 9.85.
“I got my second fastest time of the year, so it shows that I still am in my peak condition,” he said.
Jakub Vadlejch had finished second behind gold medalist Neeraj Chopra at the Tokyo Olympics and third behind Chopra at the past two world championships. He finally took the victory on Saturday.
Vadlejch threw 84.24m on his sixth throw to win the championship, but his first-round throw of 84.01 was already leading the competition. Chopra finished second on this second throw, 83.80m.
“It’s always tough competing with Neeraj,” Vadlejch said. “But victory is for me, very valuable. I’m still dreaming.”
Men’s triple jump
Andy Díaz Hernández won the men’s triple jump with his first jump of 17.43m, beating reigning world champion Hugues Fabrice Zango.
Díaz Hernández won two regular-season Diamond League meets during the season, in Florence and Xiamen.
THE OTHER CHAMPIONS
Women’s 100 meters
Shericka Jackson redeemed herself after finishing second in the world championships behind Sha’Carri Richardson, winning her first women’s 100-meter Diamond League title with a time of 10.70.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Jackson said. “I just wanted to come out here and execute, and I think I did pretty good this evening. I’m grateful, I’m here, I’m enjoying myself and tomorrow is another competition day.”
Marie-Josée Ta Lou took an early lead out of the blocks. Elaine Thompson-Herah stuck right next to her and looked the best she has all season, finishing third with a season’s best of 10.79.
Ta Lou didn’t hold her lead for long. Jackson started to hit her top speed around the 50-meter mark and easily passed Ta Lou and Thompson-Herah. Ta Lou finished .05 behind Jackson for second place.
“I’m happy to finish stronger,” Ta Lou said on matching her season’s best race from the Oslo Diamond League meeting (10.75).
Jackson powered down the final 50 meters for her second Diamond League final trophy, adding the 100-meter trophy to the 200-meter trophy she won at last year’s Diamond League final in Brussels.
The newly crowned 100-meter world champion, Sha’Carri Richardson, finished in fourth in 0.80. Even though she didn’t get to end her season with a win, Richardson still made her presence felt.
Richardson walked to the 100-meter blocks with a new look. She took out her braids and let her natural hair out, flaunting it as she was introduced to the crowd. The last time she was introduced to a Eugene crowd, Richardson took off her wig and threw it behind her to reveal braids as fans cheered.
Richardson told NBC Sports, “I had to pull out the natural.”
World champion Haruka Kitaguchi opened up the day in the women’s javelin with her winning throw of 63.78m in the second round. Finishing behind her was New Zealand’s Tori Peeters with her fourth-round throw of 61.30m.
“I’m so happy about this win and also the world championships win,” said Kitaguchi, who set a Japanese national record in Budapest earlier this season. “It’s really amazing.”
Men’s 400 meters
Grenada’s Kirani James won his fourth Diamond League title with a season best time of 44.30, and his victory was a testament to his longevity. James won his first Diamond League championship in 2011, his second in 2015 and his third a year ago.
James, 31, said he had an issue with his knee. “So I just kinda tested it out, see how far it would take me,” he said. “Didn’t feel anything much first 200. So last 200, I just kind of put everything on the line.”
Simon Kiprop Koech, the Kenyan national champion, finished his season with a Diamond League trophy and a time of 8:06.26, running his second-best time of the season.
Koech redeemed himself from his seventh-place finish at the Budapest world championships, running a dominant race and controlling the pace once the pacesetter stepped off the track.