ZÜRICH, SWITZERLAND, September 07— The Weltklasse for the second year in a row hosted the entire Diamond League Final, before it heads to Eugene next year for its first-ever U.S. staging.
The first day highlighted the popular city center events, held again in the Sechseläutenplatz on the shore of Lake Zürich. Six events were contested: the shots, the 5000s, and the men’s high jump and women’s vault. Enthusiastic crowds, noticeably bigger than last year’s, surrounded the athletes with noise, and many stayed there even after an evening rain came down and temps dropped to the low 60s (17C). (Because of the unique nature of the track — a 563m banked installation — WA is calling the 5000s road races, and we’re following suit.)
The remainder of the 32 events will be held in classic fashion in Letzigrund Stadium on Thursday.
Our reports on the 6 Wednesday events (as always, all the winners are eligible for Wild Cards to next year’s World Champs in Budapest):
Men’s 5000: Kipkorir Best On Unique Track
The odd genre that is running on a strangely-shaped temporary track produced a genuinely odd race. Nicholas Kipkorir came out on top, clocking a 12:59.05 that was all the more commendable because of the challenges along the way.
Challenge 1 came right away, as the surface, especially on the turns, appeared to be undulating and uneven along the 563m loop. Several times various runners were seen losing balance and taking a step off the inside rail.
A second challenge was the weather. With 4 laps to go, the skies opened up and hard rain fell; no one slipped despite fears about the footing. At the 4K, lightning flashed.
The remaining challenge was the competition itself. A rabbit led through kilos of 2:35.15 and 5:11.35. Close behind ran defending champion Berihu Aregawi, Grant Fisher and Selemon Barega. Finally, Barega took over and with 3 laps to go upped the ante to string out his pursuers. Kipkorir faded and lost contact, then Fisher lost touch and soon was running behind the Kenyan, who had finished just behind him in Eugene. If this were a track race, one would think the two were toast.
But this wasn’t a typical race. Barega passed 3K in 7:46.14, constantly swiveling his head to see where the competition was. The pace slipped a bit (4K in 10:23.11), and suddenly Kipkorir was back in the mix. A wild long last lap saw Telahun Bekele challenge for the lead before Kipkorir took over. Remarkably, Fisher also made it out of the cellar, and in the final stretch came after the lead pack.
Behind Kipkorir, Domnic Lobalu of South Sudan ran 13:00s, with Fisher snatching 3rd with his American Record 13:01. Said the victor, “I was struggling at first, so I decided not to stay with the fastest group. But then I managed to close the gap.”
1. Nicholas Kipkorir (Ken) 13:00 (12:59.05); 2. Dominic Lobalu (SSud) 13:00 (12:59.40); 3. Grant Fisher (US) 13:01 (13:00.56) AR (old AR 13:20 Ben True [Sauc] ’17; 4. Telahun Bekele (Eth) 13:03; 5. Berihu Aregawi (Eth) 13:04 (10:24); 6. Cornelius Kemboi (Ken) 13:10; 7. Selemon Barega (Eth) 13:14 (7:47);… dnf—Yomif Kejelcha (Eth), Jacob Krop (Ken), Thierry Ndikumwenayo (Bdi);… rabbit—Maximilian Thorwirth (Ger) (2:36, 5:12).
Men’s High Jump: A Wedding Present For Tamberi
One might have expected a battle to the finish between co-Olympic champions Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim. Instead, it was American JuVaughn Harrison, enjoying his best meet of the year, who took the final jump, pressing the newlywed Italian to the very end.
At the fourth bar, 7-4¼ (2.24), Harrison and Canada’s Django Lovett shared the lead with perfect slates. Barshim already had problems, missing his first at that height and then passing.
Only Lovett cleared 7-5¼ (2.27) on his first to move to the lead. Tamberi and Harrison each needed two tries. Barshim, who had missed another first attempt, passed again.
That’s when Harrison put the pressure on, with a smooth clearance at 7-6½ (2.30). Tamberi made it also on the first try. Lovett missed and passed. Barshim, with one attempt remaining, sat that height out.
Only one would clear 7-7¼ (2.32), and it was the American, making his highest bar of the year. Lovett used his two remaining attempts but could not get over. Tamberi missed his first and passed. Barshim spent his last attempt, all of him but his heel clearing the bar nicely.
That left Tamberi and Harrison at 7-8 (2.34). The Italian cleared on his second, Harrison on his third. The bar would go up another notch to 7-8¾ (2.36), but this time Tamberi crucially held the lead. They both missed their first attempt, but the half-bearded defending champion, nearly 7 years older than Harrison, appeared to have discomfort on his plant. He withdrew from the competition. Harrison missed his remaining two efforts, though the last was quite close.
Tamberi, just married 6 days ago, said, “A perfect end to the season. Now it’s going to be a honeymoon. We are going to the Maldives, Singapore and Bali.”
HJ: 1. Gianmarco Tamberi (Ita) 7-8 (2.34) (7-3, 7-5¼ , 7-6½, 7-7¼ [xp], 7-8 , 7-8¾ [xpp]) (2.21, 2.27 , 2.30, 2.32 [xp], 2.34 , 2.36 [xpp]);
2. JuVaughn Harrison (US) 7-8 (AL) (7-1¾, 7-3, 7-4¼, 7-5¼ , 7-6½, 7-7¼, 7-8 , 7-8¾ [xxx]) (2.18, 2.21, 2.24, 2.27 , 2.30, 2.32, 2.34 , 2.36 [xxx]);
3. Django Lovett (Can) 7-5¼ (2.27); 4. Andriy Protsenko (Ukr) 7-4¼ (2.24); 5. Hamish Kerr (NZ) 7-3 (2.21); 6. Mutaz Barshim (Qat) 7-1¾ (2.18).
Men’s Shot: Kovacs Joins The 76-Foot Club
After Ryan Crouser’s unreal ’21 campaign, replete as it was with not only the farthest throw ever but also incredible consistency with 74-foot-plus tosses, one could be forgiven for penning him in as virtually unbeatable for the foreseeable future.
Joe Kovacs, for one, didn’t buy into that, and with good reason. The 2-time world champion is now a member of the elite 76-foot club, an organization which has exactly 2 members, Crouser and Kovacs.
Crouser showed little of the effects of his summer battle with COVID, opening at 74-4½ (22.67), equaling the meet record he set last year. But Kovacs was not deterred, countering with the exact same distance.
Crouser fouled his second and Kovacs struck, punching his shot high into the clouding-over sky, down the middle of the sector. It was obvious that it was one of those perfect-storm throws as Kovacs was pumping his arms in glee even as the missile reached the apex of his trajectory.
Up came the numbers: 23.23 (76-2¾). He was now No. 2 on the all-time list, with the No. 3 performance. It was a PR by just over a foot, crushing the 75-2 (22.91) which had won him the ’19 world title. Suddenly Crouser’s WR of 76-8¼ (23.37) doesn’t look so solitary.
The rest of the rounds were uneventful. Well, by comparison that is as Kovacs also had throws of 74-1 (22.58) and 73-10 (22.50) and Crouser added an improvement to 74-7¼ (22.74).
Said Kovacs, “I am super excited. I had so many throws this year over 22.80m [74-9¾]. So I feel like I was building and building. It feels good to finally click the box and be a 23m shot putter. There is a bigger throw left in there. So it feels good to walk away from a PR and I want more, but it is also exciting because I know the level is getting better and better. I know that Ryan will throw further so I will have to throw even further next year.”
1. Joe Kovacs (US) 76-2¾ (23.23) PR (WL, AL) (2, 3 W, A) (MR) (74-4½, 76-2¾, 74-1, 71-6, 73-10, f) (22.67 =MR, 23.23, 22.58, 21.79, 22.50, f);
2. Ryan Crouser (US) 74-7¼ (22.74)
(74-4½ =MR, f, 74-7¼, f, f, f) (22.67, f, 22.74, f, f, f);
3. Tom Walsh (NZ) 71-10¼ (21.90) (71-10¼, f, f, 69-2¾, 71-¾, f) (21.90, f, f, 21.10, 21.66, f); 4. Jacko Gill (NZ) 70-7 (21.51); 5. Filip Mihaljević (Cro) 70-3¾ (21.43); 6. Nick Ponzio (Ita) 67-11½ (20.71).
Women’s 5000: Chebet Leads Kenyan 1–2
The unique size and geometry of the Sechseläutenplatz track lends itself to no tried-and-true tactic other than go-all-in once the finish line is in sight.
Beatrice Chebet, who collected the African and Commonwealth titles earlier this year, won in 0.49 using exactly that approach, as she and Kenyan mate Margaret Kipkemboi (14:32s for both) relegated world champion Gudaf Tsegay to 3rd at 14:33.
Rabbit Viktória Wagner-Gyürkés towed the field through the kilo in 2:51, even pace for a time just under 14:12.
However, running fast matters little on a non-standard track, and the clip slowed as the Hungarian hare soldiered on for another 2½ minutes.
With Tsegay nominally leading a tightly bunched group, the second and third kilos passed at 2:56 pace for an 8:42 split at 3K.
Chebet took a turn at the front at that juncture until American Alicia Monson, fresh off a massive 3000 breakthrough and near-win in Lausanne, swung wide with 11:00 on the clock and 2 laps to run and grabbed the lead to break the rhythm of the race’s slowest kilo, 3:04 (11:47).
As the tussle grew serious, long-trailing Olympic champ Sifan Hassan at last pressed up closer to the leaders, though never to the front.
Monson led at the bell and with 400 or so left Tsegay again ran up front. As a group of 4, including Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye, pulled away, Monson rapidly fell behind and in the long final homestretch Chebet authored the surge that wrested the DL crown from the rest.
Chebet, 22, likened racing on the oddly configured track, which was banked on the curves, to “an indoor championship” and declared, “I don’t have the words to explain but it’s my happiness tonight.”
1. Beatrice Chebet (Ken) 14:32 (14:31.03); 2. Margaret Kipkemboi (Ken) 14:32 (14:31.52); 3. Gudaf Tsegay (Eth) 14:33 (5:48, 8:44); 4. Ejgayehu Taye (Eth) 14:33; 5. Sifan Hassan (Neth) 14:38; 6. Alicia Monson (US) 14:38 (11:47); 7. Hawi Feysa (Eth) 14:58; 8. Amy-Eloise Markovc (GB) 15:29; 9. Marta García (Spa) 15:50; 10. Rose Davies (Aus) 16:08;… rabbit—Viktória Wagner-Gyürkés (Hun) (2:51).
Women’s Pole Vault: Kennedy Now A Factor
Nina Kennedy tied the bow on an impressive season by clearing her best height of the year 15-9¼ (4.81) to defeat Sandi Morris and take her first Diamond League crown. The World bronze medalist and Commonwealth champ, Kennedy had shared the lead with Morris and Slovenian Tina Šutej through 15-1½ (4.61).
Then things got complicated for everyone but Morris, who managed a first-try clearance over 15-5½ (4.71) to take sole ownership of the lead. Šutej went out there, as did Italy’s Roberta Bruni, European champ Wilma Murto of Finland, Katerína Stefanídi and local favorite Angelica Moser. Kennedy, who missed her first attempt, sailed nicely over on her second to stay alive.
The bar went to 15-7¼ (4.76). Both Kennedy and Morris missed their first tries. On the second go, Kennedy cleared impressively. Morris would need one more try to make it.
Thus the Australian already had the lead at the final bar, 15-9¼ (4.81). Both she and Morris struggled with the height, but Kennedy would make it over on her third. The American, however, missed.
“It’s a huge relief,” said Kennedy, 25. “I’m really happy that the world and my competitors especially can see that I am now a factor.
“To come here and actually win against massive names has been super rewarding and cool. The plan is to just keep building. The girls that are winning medals and are up there are getting into their 30s. I definitely feel like I am one of the young ones coming through and I just want to continue this momentum.”
1. Nina Kennedy (Aus) 15-9¼ (4.81) (14-9½, 15-1½, 15-5½ , 15-7¼ , 15-9¼ ) (4.51, 4.61, 4.71 , 4.76 , 4.81 ); 2. Sandi Morris (US) 15-7¼ (4.76) (14-9½, 15-1½, 15-5½, 15-7¼ , 15-9¼ [xxx]) (4.51, 4.61, 4.71, 4.76 , 4.81 [xxx]);
3. Tina Šutej (Slo) 15-1½ (4.61); 4. Roberta Bruni (Ita) 15-1½); 5. Wilma Murto (Fin) 15-1½; 6. Katerína Stefanídi (Gre) (4.51); 7. Angelica Moser (Swi) 14-9½.
Women’s Shot: Ealey Stays Perfect In The DL
As the winner of all 4 previous DL competitions on the year — to say nothing of being the new world champion, Chase Ealey came in as a strong favorite. The 28-year-old American spinner lived up to her billing, producing 3 throws good enough to win.
She never trailed, opening with a 65-1¼ (19.84) and improving that to 66-3 (20.19) in the third round for the eighth 20-meter (65-7½) meet of her career, all of them in this, her big breakout year.
“I’m really happy with the way my event is going; I love that I have thrown over 20m all over the place,” she said. “It just feels amazing and I love to see my sport progress and I’m really excited for next year, it’s gonna be even better.”
Ealey’s win came despite her not being 100% physically. “I like having the crowd right there,” she said of the town square setting. “I like bringing on the claps and hearing them giving us the energy it’s really nice and I almost really forget that my foot is really hurting.”
1. Chase Ealey (US) 66-3 (20.19) (x, =10 A) (65-1¼, 63-7¾, 66-3, 64-4½, 63-2¾, f) (19.84, 19.40, 20.19, 19.62, 19.27, f);
2. Sarah Mitton (Can) 64-2¼ (19.56); 3. Auriol Dongmo (Por) 63-10¼ (19.46); 4. Jessica Schilder (Neth) 62-6½ (19.06); 5. Danniel Thomas-Dodd (Jam) 62-5¾ (19.04); 6. Fanny Roos (Swe) 60-3¼ (18.37).