ONE STEP DOWN from the Diamond League in WA’s hierarchy are the Continental Tour’s gold-level meets. As May segued into June four high-end meets generated notable news:
Ostrava CT: 300H Best For Bol
The tour came to the Czech Republic on May 31 and produced a World Record, of sorts, for Olympic bronze medalist Femke Bol. Competing in the rarely-run 300H, the Dutch star slashed more than a second from the old best with her 36.86. Zuzana Hejnová had held the record at 38.16.
Note that the European version of this rarely run race features only 7 hurdles, while the more familiar U.S. high school version has 8, with a shorter run-up to hurdle 1. (Sydney McLaughlin set the best in that version with her 38.90 as a prep senior in ’17.)
Bol, after her first hurdle race in over 8 months, noted, “I was crazy surprised. I was really hoping to run 37 seconds here and I hit two hurdles a bit… then I saw the time and it explains why I have so much lactic!”
Lamecha Girma produced a stunning 7:58.68 Ethiopian Record in the steeple, moving to No. 3 ever among non-Kenyans.
Kenyan teen Emmanuel Wanyonyi, the World Junior champ at 800, showed he has the tools to race against his elders with a 1:44.15 win over Algeria’s Slimane Moula (1:44.19), Britain’s Max Burgin (1:44.54) and countryman Noah Kibet (1:44.89). The race was a fast clip throughout, with the rabbit at 49.65 and Burgin leading at 600 in 1:16.65 before Wanyonyi unleashed his kick.
Joe Kovacs dominated Tom Walsh in the shot, winning with a 73-0 (22.25) and two other efforts farther than the New Zealander’s best of 71-1½ (21.68). More impressive was the fact that the two had traveled together from Eugene, their flights racking up a total of 37 hours in delays. Their luggage didn’t make it in time for the meet.
Bydgoszcz CT: Walsh Tops Kovacs
At Poland’s Szewińska Memorial (June 03), Tom Walsh avenged his Ostrava defeat at the hands of Joe Kovacs, winning at 71-6¼ (21.80). Trailing far behind throughout, Kovacs nearly came all the way with his final throw of 71-4¾ (21.76), falling just 4cm short.
Said the Kiwi, “I’m happy with how I managed to figure it out, get some aggression and throw some balls well. I’m really happy to do what it took to win and sometimes, that’s what it is about.”
The hammers also produced great action. Anita Włodarczyk used a round 4 toss of 243-5 (74.19) to dispatch Hanna Skydan of Azerbaijan, who threw 240-1 (73.19). On the men’s side, Wojciech Nowicki reached 263-5 (80.28) to stay ahead of 4-time World champ Paweł Fajdek (263-1/80.19).
The Netherlands’ Tony van Diepen won a snappy 2-lapper in a PR 1:44.31. That beat the best of 1:44.59 that South Africa’s Tshepo Tshite recorded, with Sweden’s Andreas Kramer taking 3rd in the same time.
American Khallifah Rosser showed impressive form in capturing the 400H in a meet record 48.23, well ahead of South Africa’s Sokwakhana Zazini (49.17). Other U.S. wins went to Elijah Hall in the 100 (10.02), hurdlers Jamal Britt (13.35) and Tia Jones (12.79), as well as vaulter Chris Nilsen (19-¼/5.80).
Chorzów CT: Walsh Tops Kovacs Again
Tom Walsh won another shot battle over Joe Kovacs at the Kusociński Memorial (June 05), with a 73-2½ (22.31) toss in round 3 that was a over a foot better than anything the American could produce. At 72-2¼ Kovacs still was more than a foot ahead of local favorite Konrad Bukowiecki (71-¾/21.66).
Even bigger fireworks came in the hammer, where France’s Quentin Bigot got a PR 264-3 (80.55) in round 4, and Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki got him on his final throw with a world-leading 267-8 (81.58).
Chris Nilsen took the vault at 19-5 (5.92), beating runner-up Renaud Lavillenie’s 19-¾ (5.81). He noted on Instagram, “Sammy K [Kendricks] and I have been vying for this meeting record for the last few years, so I’m happy to finally walk away with it!”
One of the more impressive track performances came from Olympic hurdle champ, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn. Running into a 1.4 wind, the Puerto Rican hit 12.43 to win by 0.30.
The women’s 800 saw a great stretch battle between Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji and Britain’s Jemma Reekie. The Ethiopian, who had started kicking with 300 left, held on to win in a PR 1:58.28 as Reekie hit 1:58.44. In the 400, Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek caught Allyson Felix in the final stretch to win, 50.40 to 50.71.
Hengelo CT: A Fast Ethiopian 10K
The FBK Games (June 06) once again hosted the Ethiopian 10,000 Trials races. The men’s event was staged the night before the main meet and ideal conditions produced a smashing set of times, with Selemon Barega triumphing in a PR 26:44.73 over Tadese Worku (26:45.91) and Berihu Aregawi (26:46.13). Yomif Kejelcha ran 26:46.39, the fastest 4th-place time in history, and for his trouble, got alternate status.
The women’s 10K, held the next day, saw Eilish McColgan take down her mother’s Scottish Record with a 30:19.02 frontrunning win over Letesenbet Gidey (30:44.27), who played it safe to win the Ethiopian Trial. Said McColgan, “I was leading from the start and had to make a switch mentally, because I expected that the Ethiopian girls would have come along.”
Instead, Gidey led four other Ethiopians across the line in a 4+-second span, their tactical race coming down to a kick, with WR holder Almaz Ayana finishing two places short of team selection with her 30:48.48.
Ugandan Peruth Chemutai won the steeple in 9:14.00 in a race that produced a World Youth Record. Fourth-placer Simbo Alemayehu of Ethiopia, 17, cut nearly 6 seconds off the old best with her 9:18.98.
Jamaica’s Britany Anderson won the hurdles on a damp track in 12.51, ahead of the American trio of Nia Ali (12.69), Tonea Marshall (12.70) and Tia Jones (12.71). Olympic bronze medalist Femke Bol took the long hurdles in 53.94.
On the field, Chase Ealey captured the shot with an outdoor world leader 65-6¾ (19.98), her farthest outdoor effort ever. Mondo Duplantis also nailed an outdoor world leader, clearing 19-8½ (6.01) to take the vault.
A strong javelin competition produced a big winning mark from Grenada’s Anderson Peters, who produced his 297-9 (90.75) in round 4 to top Julian Weber’s PR 293-9 (89.54) and Keshorn Walcott’s 292-2 (89.07).