World high jump superstar Mutaz Essa Barshim and new 400m hurdles sensation Abderrahman Samba produced a memorable golden night at the Bislett Games, the fifth leg of the IAAF Diamond League in Oslo, on Thursday.
Both the Qatari athletes were up against the quality field and the two brushed off their challengers to nail third successive victories to head the DL race.
Barshim had a couple of misses at 2.30m and 2.33m, while world indoor champion Danil Lysenko (Authorised Neutral Athlete) was flawless till that time. However, the Qatari, with the second highest jump of 2.43m against his name and chasing Cuban great Javier Sotomayor's world record of 2.45m, displayed his class as he soared over 2.36m off the very first attempt to grab the lead.
Lysenko, competing in his second event of the season, failed to clear 2.36m and had to suffer a second successive defeat to the Qatari. It is worth mentioning here that the Russian had beaten Barshim in the gold medal battle at the 2018 World Indoor Championship in Birmingham in March.
Later, the meet record holder Barshim attempted to improve upon his last year's 2.38m benchmark, by setting the bar at 2.40m. However, it did not seem he was destined for that on Thursday and had to be content with just the title. Donald Thomas, the 2007 world champion from Bahamas, was third at 2.25m on countback, beating 2017 London World Championship bronze medallist Majd Eddin Ghazal from Syria and Marco Fassinotti from Italy.
Barshim commented,"It was good win for me third in a row in the Diamond League this year. This is good, all points there. I really wanted to break the meet record but it was not meant to be today.
"The crowd was always very supportive. The weather was good this time. Only the sun bothered me so I needed glasses for some attempts," the Qatari added.
Samba was facing reigning world champion and local hero Karsten Warholm in the much-awaited 400m hurdles race. The Norwegian, racing in Lane 7, appeared to be coming through as the crowd roared to egg him on.
However, Samba, already three world leading times under his belt in his second season in the event, uncorked a power-packed kick and coasted past Warholm to set a new meet record at 47.60.
American Danny Harris was credited with the old mark of 47.82 he had created on July 5, 1986.
While Warholm was timed in at 48.22, Turkish Yasmani Copello, the silver medallist at the London worlds last year, was third in 48.54. American TJ Holmes (48.64) edged Olympic champion and 2017 world championship bronze winner Kerron Clement (49.30) to the fifth spot.
An excited Samba commented after the victory:"I cannot say I was confident coming over the last hurdle to win but I had better endurance in the last metres. I'm enjoying the life and hoping to continue to run fast next time in Stockholm.
"And you can be sure that I can run faster, maybe close to 47 seconds," he said, quipping he now needs to learn how to do Samba dance."
By Raajiv Tripathi
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