Qatari athletes produced their best-ever show at the Doha Diamond League with two victories and a third place finish on a memorable Friday at the Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium.
High-jumper Mutaz Barshim won for the first time in front of his home fans with a leap of 2.36m and in the process put Cuban great Javier Sotomayor’s 25-year-old record of 2.45m on notice, while the young Abdulrahman Samba shocked a distinguished field to claim top honours in the 400m hurdles.
Sprinter Femi Ogunode, the Asian champion, also absolved himself well among a top field by clinching the third place in the 100m, which was won by South Africa’s Akani Simbine, who surprised Andre de Grasse, Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin.
Ever since Barshim leapt 2.43m in 2014 he has been billed as a future great in the discipline and the sprightly Qatari set the athletics world abuzz with a sensational show at the season-opening event yesterday with his world leading performance for the year so far.
He was engaged in an early battle of nerves with British jumper Robert Grabarz but eventually managed 2.36m to win the event with a great degree of comfort. Grabarz took second with a jump of 2.31m, while Donald Thomas of the Bahamas finished third with 2.29m.
Barshim said he was determined to do well especially because his mother was watching him from the stands. He also hinted that he didn’t want to exert himself too much keeping in mind the long season ahead.
“Of course, winning at home is everything. These people support me and I give them my best. Having my mother in the stadium was a big big motivation for me,” he said.
“This is the first competition for me and I am happy that the target of winning my first Diamond League event in Doha has been achieved.
“In five days we have the Shanghai Diamond League meeting coming up and I am also looking forward to the competition there.”
Samba was the surprise package in the 400m hurdles as he powered to victory in a time of 48.44 seconds, while American Kerron Clement (49.40) and South African L J van Zyl (49.49) came in second and third.
“Today I say thank you to God, I ran good. I knew we had eight athletes and had to beat them all. I’m delighted. This win has given me some good experience for the future,” Samba said.
He added that he was motivated by the trust Qatar legend and former Asian Sprint King Talal Mansour had in his abilities.
“He’s been a great champion and has been motivating me in a great way. I hope to do well in the future and continue to excel myself.”
Ogunode, who clocked 10.13 seconds in the 100m, revealed after the race that he was hampered by a hamstring problem.
“I pulled my hamstring a week ago but I wanted to run this here at the first competition. I am a lion, I ran with it. My Dad and my teammates have been my motivation,” said the Asian champion.
With Usain Bolt set to retire after the IAAF World Championships in London later this year, the 100m is set to become more competitive and Simbine could well be the one to watch in the future after clocking 9.99 seconds to become the first South African man to win a Diamond League 100m.
Meanwhile, women’s double Olympic sprint champion, Elaine Thompson once again got the better of her main rival Dafne Schippers in the 200m.
Jamaican Thompson stormed home in a time of 22.19secs, around half-a-second down on her winning time in Rio, and said she was “very happy” with her show.
“It’s a great first time (of the season),” said Thompson. Schippers, the 200m silver medallist behind Thompson in Rio, said she was taking the early season defeat as an omen.
“Last year, I won every race and she won the most important.
“I hope to do it the other way round this year,” said the Dutchwoman.
1. Akani Simbine (RSA) 9.99
2. Asafa Powell (JAM) 10.08
3. Femi Ogunode (QAT) 10.13
1. Steven Gardiner (BAH) 44.60
2. LaShawn Merritt (USA) 44.78
3. Tony McQuay (USA) 44.92
1. Elijah Manangoi (KEN) 3:31.90
2. Silas Kiplagat (KEN) 3:32.23
3. Bethwell Birgen (KEN) 3:32.27
1. Ronald Kwemoi (KEN) 7:28.73
2. Paul K Chelimo (USA) 7:31.57
3. Yomif Kejelcha (ETH) 7:32.27
Men’s 400m Hurdles
1. Abdulrahman Samba (QAT) 48.44
2. Kerron Clement (USA) 49.40
3. L.J. van Zyl (RSA) 49.49
Men’s High Jump
1. Mutaz Barshim (QAT) 2.36
2. Robert Grabarz (GBR) 2.31
3. Donald Thomas (BAH) 2.29
Men’s Triple Jump
1. Christian Taylor (USA) 17.25
2. Omar Craddock (USA) 17.08
3. Alexis Copello (AZE) 16.81
Men’s Javelin Throw
1. Thomas Roehler (GER) 93.90
2. Johannes Vetter (GER) 89.68
3. Jakub Vadlejch (CZE) 87.91
1. Elaine Thompson (JAM) 22.19
2. Dafne Schippers (NED) 22.45
3. Marie JT Lou (CIV) 22.77
1. Caster Semenya (RSA) 1:56.61
2. Margaret Wambui (KEN) 1:57.03
3. Eunice Jepkoech Sum (KEN) 1:58.76
1. Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi (KEN) 9:00.12
2. Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN) 9:01.57
3. Ruth Jebet (BAH) 9:01.99
Women’s 100m Hurdles
1. Kendra Harrison (USA) 12.59
2. Cindy Roleder (GER) 12.90
3. Sharika Nelvis (USA) 12.91
Women’s Pole Vault
1. Ekaterini Stefanidi (GRE) 4.80
2. Sandi Morris (USA) 4.75
3. Yarisley Silva (CUB) 4.65
Women’s Shot Put
1. Michelle Carter (USA) 19.32
2. Anita Marton (HUN) 18.99
3. Aliona Dubitskaya (BLR) 18.90
By Anil John
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2022