Doha DL — The Season Ends On A High Note

Hellen Obiri made it 2 wins in a row in Doha, adding the DL 3000 win to the WC 5K title she captured a year ago. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

DOHA, QATAR, September 25—The 2020 Diamond League season came to a close on a high note with two world-leading marks and a pair of U.S. leaders as well. Once again, no spectators were allowed, but with the moving of the meet to a smaller stadium than the one that hosted last year’s World Championships the athletes didn’t rattle around inside as much as they might have on a typically toasty evening with temperatures in the low 90s (c33C).

How the meet’s major events played out, chronologically:

Women’s 100H: An AL 12.78 For Chadwick
Payton Chadwick has enjoyed a solid European season over the hurdles, including a win in Zagreb, but that didn’t foreshadow her winning performance here.

Starting from lane 5 alongside Cindy Ofili in 4, Chadwick trailed Taliyah Brooks (7) at the first hurdle. By the second barrier she had pulled even. The two former Arkansas heptathletes battled in lockstep for the first half of the race, but by hurdle 6 Chadwick started to find some daylight. Her margin only grew and she hit the finish in 12.78, the No. 2 time of her career. Brooks closed well to PR in 12.86, with Ofili 3rd in 13.02.

“The first part wasn’t great but I came back strongly,” said the 24-year-old Chadwick. “I’ve been focusing on running without fans in my training and I guess I am used to it by now.”

Men’s 1500: Another Aussie Record For McSweyn
With a 1500 win in Zagreb and an Australian Record placing 3rd in Monaco’s hard-fought 3000 in his last two outings, Stewart McSweyn stepped to the line as favorite. With a target: Ryan Gregson’s 3:31.06 Oz record of 10 year’s standing.

McSweyn, who had missed Gregson’s mark by 0.42 in Stockholm last month, hit his mark this time with his only apparent concerns throughout the clock and the efficiency of two pacemakers. At 400, away with the rabbits (hare No. 1 splitting 54.05), the 25-year-old had 10m on the rest. By 800, now with a single pacer in front of him, McSweyn’s margin over the other racers was some 20m.

When he reached the bell in about 2:35.7 his lead stood at more like 25m. Around the first bend, McSweyn swept outside of the rabbit and pushed determinedly up the straight. Digging to hold form and gritting teeth, he legged it home in 3:30.51 off a 27.6 final 200.

From a field heavy with specialists at other distances—yet also including Gregson (12th at 3:37.75)—Selemon Barega, 5000 silver medalist at the World Champs here just under a year ago, came with a flying final half lap to prevail for 2nd over WC steeple bronze medalist Soufiane El Bakkali, 3:32.97–3:33.45, PRs for both.

Having shoehorned 6 prior races into the 6 weeks leading to this, his season finale, McSweyn said, “I wasn’t in the best of shape coming into this race but to win tonight is something I am very delighted about. I just wanted to race again considering how this season has been. It was a very competitive race but I executed my plan quite well and I maintained the pace.”

Men’s 110H: Mallett Grabs Opportunity
Iowa alum Aaron Mallett, making just his third career DL start, had no intention to waste it. Not after PRing at 13.23 for 2nd behind Andy Pozzi in Rome last week. The USATF Indoor winner over the 60 sticks had to be patient, though, along with everyone else.

This played out as a comp of attrition. First fellow American Freddie Crittenden sustained an injury during warmups so was unable to start. Then three tries at the getaway were required, as Italy’s Paolo dal Molin triggered his false-start blocks and then on the first restart favored Wilhem Belocian met the same fate.

If he was patient through those developments, Mallett dispensed with the waiting around at the sound of the third gun. He burst ahead to the first hurdle and clipped barriers 2 and 9 yet came off No. 10 a meter in front of Swiss Jason Joseph and held that through an arms-back lean across the line in 13.15. When the numbers on his new best popped up on the scoreboard, Mallett pounded the track, whooped and clapped his hands.

Said the winner, who has lowered his PR by 0.23 over the course of the strange ’20 season, “After the two false starts, I just recalibrated the whole race in my head and I tried to stay focused. I’ve been preparing for this competition for quite a long time and tonight I just went out to execute what I’ve been training for.

“It wasn’t an issue for me to race in an empty stadium because I’ve mentally prepared for it all along. I have a good support system back at home and they’ve helped me a lot in getting in shape.”

Women’s 800: Season-Leading Win For Kipyegon
As Diamond League 800s go, the first lap didn’t look very promising. Rabbit Emily Tuei was supposed to hit halfway in 57.5: no one went with her. Was she going too fast? Not even. She hit the mark in 57.72 and the pack still languished 10m behind, with Spaniard Esther Guerrero, the slowest runner in the race (2:00.56 PR), leading the way.

Talent was indeed buried in that pack, with WC 4th-placer Winnie Nanyondo, Olympic 1500 champ Faith Kipyegon and Ethiopia’s NR holder Habitam Alemu jostling for position. American Kaela Edwards made the first big move, fighting her way into 2nd on the penultimate curve. That only awoke Kipyegon, who zipped right past her to challenge Guerrero on the backstretch. She caught the Spaniard at 600 (1:29.24) and once on the straight unleashed a furious finish that took her to the victory in a year-leading 1:57.68, the fastest time of her career.

Guerrero surprisingly held on to crush her best with a 1:59.22, and Britain’s Adelle Tracey also broke 2:00 with her 1:59.87. Alemu was 4th in 2:00.11, Nanyondo 5th in 2:00.49. Edwards faded over the last 200 to finish 7th in 2:01.49.

Admitted Kipyegon, “I wasn’t really expecting to win and that’s why I am very surprised not only with the win but with my record here tonight.” It was her second 800 of the year, after having not run the event since ’15.

Women’s 100: Thompson-Herah Explodes
Any drama in the century ended with the sound of the gun. Elaine Thompson-Herah, the Olympic champion, is simply far too fit for anyone else on the planet to challenge now. The Jamaican star exploded out of the blocks alongside American Kayla White, while typically zippy starter Marie-Josée Ta Lou struggled with her opening strides.

By 40m Thompson-Herah had left White behind and reached a top speed that made the others look like amateurs. She crossed the line with nearly a 5m lead, clocking 10.87 in still (0.0) conditions, just 0.02 off her own world leader. Ta Lou recovered from her start well enough to come by White for 2nd (11.21–11.25).

For the winner, it was just another day at the office: “I am happy to win but my major focus is to finish the year healthy. Preparations for the Olympics is the next thing on my agenda and it begins in earnest. I don’t normally celebrate a win for long and tonight I am just going to have some rest, eat good food before heading to the airport.”

Men’s 800: Cheruiyot Ends On High Note
Since placing 4th in last year’s Worlds Final here Ferguson Cheruiyot had 8th- and 4th-place DL finishes at Monaco and Stockholm in August. For over a month then no DL 800 chances presented themselves. The 30-year-old Kenyan merely won the 4 starts he could find, and got a 1:44.34 seasonal best in Marseille 3 weeks ago.

There was some talk beforehand of chasing a sub-1:43 here, an intriguing concept, especially if Bryce Hoppel had managed to stay sharp since his 1:43.23 PR in Monaco.

Alas, season curtain calls don’t often lend themselves to herculean performances and this one didn’t either. Rabbit Joseph Deng passed 200 in 26.0 some 3m ahead of the field and 400 in 50.83—an unlikely marker for 1:43 territory. Cheruiyot passed halfway leader Elliot Giles heading into the second backstretch and pulled away from the Briton and Wesley Vázquez before 600m (1:17.66).

On the homestretch Giles crept up on Cheruiyot, who sneaked an over-shoulder glance with about 60m left but controlled the run-in to win 1:44.16–1:44.56. Giles’ time improved his PR from Marseille by 0.12. Hoppel mustered not so much on the last go-around and placed 5th at 1:45.86. Still that was better than 1500 world champ Timothy Cheruiyot’s 1:46.78 in 8th.

And, wait. This was not the winner’s season-closer. “I wasn’t under any pressure tonight because I usually run against the time,” Cheruiyot said, “and I don’t consider who I am competing against. Preparations for the Olympics is next but before then I will be racing in Nairobi to round up the year. I hope to end the year on a strong note.”

Women’s LJ: A Last-Round Comethrough
Once again the long jump was contested with the less-than-popular methodology of having the last-round mark deciding the winner, even if somebody else had a longer earlier performance.

Just as in Stockholm, Khaddi Sagnia was in the lead after 5 rounds (22-5¾/6.85) and ended up 3rd. And in another echo of the Swedish competition, Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk claimed the win by coming through with not only the best mark of the final round, but also the best of the day, a seasonal best 22-8 (6.91).

“The season hasn’t gone the way everyone expected,” said the 25-year-old Ukrainian, “but for me I am glad to be ending it on a high. The Olympics is my next focus just like everyone else.”

Women’s 3000: Obiri Leads 7 Under 8:30
One of the deepest 3000 races in history owed much to the rabbiting of Winny Chebet, a 3:58.20 metric miler who handled the early going with ease, bringing the pack through 1K in 2:48.46, a pace that if held would deliver a time in the mid-8:20s. Behind her, the field obediently followed, with world 5K champ Hellen Obiri in charge, and steeple WR holder Beatrice Chepkoech and Doha 10K bronze medalist Agnes Tirop breathing on her back. Chebet guided the pack all the way to 1600, holding steady at 67-68 seconds a lap.

Then Obiri let the pace slip just a little. She passed 2K in 5:39.70 and still had 9 competitors tailing her. With 500 left Chepkoech made a bold move into the lead. That only served to awaken Obiri’s inner demon. With just over 300 left she blasted past the steepler and, arms pumping hard, forged a lead of several meters that she held to the finish, the clock flashing a world leader 8:22.54, the No. 2 performance of the Kenyan legend’s life. Her final kilo was her fastest at 2:42.84.

Tirop barely edged Chepkoech at the finish, both scoring PRs with the 8:22.92 they shared. Margaret Kipkemboi (8:24.76) and Hyvin Kiyeng (8:25.13) followed. Then with the fastest 6th- and 7th-place times ever came Gudaf Tsegay (8:25.23) and Laura Weightman (8:26.31). It was only the second race ever (along with Prefontaine Classic ’19) to have 7 women break 8:30.

“I’ve had the opportunity of training in Doha for about a month in preparation for this event,” said Obiri, “and I believe it has helped me to get in shape and acclimatize quite well. The season has not been the best for everyone but I am happy it is coming to an end.”

Men’s PV: Duplantis Just Keeps Rolling
At “only” 19-1 (5.82) it was his lowest winning height in international competition this year, but it was plenty good enough to give Mondo Duplantis his 16th win in 16 meets this year. His 3-musketeer buddies Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie also topped out at 19-1, but ended up 2nd and 3rd on the countback.

It was pretty much a typical day at the office for Duplantis, who cleared 17-11 (5.46), 18-8¾ (5.71) and the 19-1 (5.82) on his first try, all with his usual aplomb. After the other two had three misses at 19-5 (5.97), Mondo passed his third and took his final allotment at 19-8¼ (6.00), but didn’t seem to have his normal drive as his attempt brought down the curtain on the DL season.

“It´s been a fantastic season and I enjoyed sharing the moment tonight with the guys,” said the winner. “We’ve not been able to see each other this season as we often do due to obvious reasons. I enjoyed the jump and the rivalry with Sam. It’s been fun with him as we have always got back at each other. It’s been a rollercoaster year sort of. I broke the indoor World Record earlier in the year and I was enjoying the season but all of a sudden the pandemic came and everything shut down and no one knew what will happen next. It’s great being back and I hope things keep improving.”


Doha, Qatar, September 25—

200(0.9): 1. Arthur Gue Cissé (CI) 20.23 NR; 2. Julian Forte (Jam) 20.39; 3. Christophe Lemaitre (Fra) 20.68; 4. Mario Burke (Bar) 20.72; 5. Christopher Belcher (US) 20.86; 6. Abdelaziz Mohamed (Qat) 20.88; 7. Mike Rodgers (US) 21.19; 8. Demek Kemp (US) 21.87.

400: 1. Kahmari Montgomery (US) 45.55; 2. Yousef Karam (Kuw) 45.72; 3. Mohamed Nasser Abbas (Qat) 45.96; 4. Ludvy Vaillant (Fra) 46.11; 5. Rabah Yousif (GB) 46.46; 6. Liemarvin Bonevacia (Neth) 46.70; 7. Kennedy Luchembe (Zam) 46.89; 8. David Kendziera (US) 47.38.

800: 1. Ferguson Cheruiyot (Ken) 1:44.16; 2. Elliot Giles (GB) 1:44.56 PR; 3. Wycliffe Kinyamal (Ken) 1:45.68; 4. Peter Bol (Aus) 1:45.74; 5. Bryce Hoppel (US) 1:45.86; 6. Guy Learmonth (GB) 1:46.25; 7. Wesley Vázquez (PR) 1:46.44; 8. Timothy Cheruiyot (Ken) 1:46.78; 9. Erik Sowinski (US) 1:46.81; 10. Álvaro de Arriba (Spa) 1:47.19; 11. Jamal Hairane (Qat) 1:47.88;… rabbit—Joseph Deng (Aus) (50.83).

1500: 1. Stewart McSweyn (Aus) 3:30.51 NR (2:49.14); 2. Selemon Barega (Eth) 3:32.97 PR; 3. Soufiane El Bakkali (Mor) 3:33.45 PR; 4. Lamecha Girma (Eth) 3:33.77 PR; 5. James West (GB) 3:34.07 PR; 6. Ignacio Fontes (Spa) 3:34.74; 7. Jesús Gómez (Spa) 3:35.31; 8. Piers Copeland (GB) 3:35.32 PR; 9. Adam Ali Musaab (Qat) 3:35.60 PR; 10. Bethwell Birgen (Ken) 3:36.67; 11. Hamza Driouch (Qat) 3:37.15; 12. Ryan Gregson (Aus) 3:37.75; 13. Vincent Kibet (Ken) 3:38.27;… rabbit—Mariano García (Spa) (54.05, 57.55 [1:51.60]).

110H(0.3): 1. Aaron Mallett (US) 13.15 PR (AL);

2. Jason Joseph (Swi) 13.40; 3. David King (GB) 13.54; 4. Gabriel Constantino (Bra) 13.60; 5. Cameron Fillery (GB) 13.76;… fs—Wilhem Belocian (Fra), Paolo dal Molin (Ita).

Field Event

PV: 1. Mondo Duplantis (Swe) 19-1 (5.82) (17-11, 18-8¾, 19-1, 19-5 [xxp], 19-8¼ [x]) (5.46, 5.71, 5.82, 5.92 [xxp], 6.00 [x]); 2. Sam Kendricks (US) 19-1 (17-11, 18-4¾, 18-8¾ [2], 19-1 [3], 19-5 [xxx]) (5.46, 5.61, 5.71 [2], 5.82 [3], 5.92 [xxx]); 3. Renaud Lavillenie (Fra) 19-1 (5.82); 4. Matt Ludwig (US) 18-8¾ (5.71); 5. Ben Broeders (Bel) 18-8¾ (5.71); 6. Cole Walsh (US) 18-4¾ (5.61); 7. Audie Wyatt (US) 17-11 (5.46); 8. Thibaut Collet (Fra) 17-11 (5.46);… nh—Harry Coppell (GB).


100(0.0): 1. Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jam) 10.87; 2. Marie Josée Ta Lou (CI) 11.21; 3. Kayla White (US) 11.25; 4. Kristal Awuah (GB) 11.27; 5. Anthonique Strachan (Bah) 11.42; 6. Amy Hunt (GB) 11.43; 7. Payton Chadwick (US) 11.51 PR; 8. Cindy Ofili (GB) 11.74.

800: 1. Faith Kipyegon (Ken) 1:57.68 PR (WL);

2. Esther Guerrero (Spa) 1:59.22 PR; 3. Adelle Tracey (GB) 1:59.87; 4. Habitam Alemu (Eth) 2:00.11; 5. Winnie Nanyondo (Uga) 2:00.49; 6. Angela Cichocka (Pol) 2:01.06; 7. Kaela Edwards (US) 2:01.49; 8. Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (GB) 2:02.22; 9. Eunice Sum (Ken) 2:02.42;… rabbit—Emily Tuei (Ken) (57.72).

3000: 1. Hellen Obiri (Ken) 8:22.54 (WL) (5:39.70 WL);

2. Agnes Tirop (Ken) 8:22.92 PR; 3. Beatrice Chepkoech (Ken) 8:22.92 PR; 4. Margaret Kipkemboi (Ken) 8:24.76 PR; 5. Hyvin Jepkemoi (Ken) 8:25.13 PR; 6. Gudaf Tsegay (Eth) 8:25.23 PR; 7. Laura Weightman (GB) 8:26.31; 8. Tsehay Gemechu (Eth) 8:33.42; 9. Lemlem Hailu (Eth) 8:35.78 (x, 7 WJ); 10. Jessica Hull (Aus) 8:36.03 NR; 11. Quailyne Jebiwott Kiprop (Ken) 8:39.88 PR; 12. Eilish McColgan (GB) 8:40.88; 13. Beatrice Chebet (Ken) 8:50.40; 14. Melissa Courtney-Bryant (GB) 8:56.11; 15. Genevieve Gregson (Aus) 9:07.40;… rabbit—Winny Chebet (Ken) (2:48.46).

(best-ever mark-for-place: 6–7)

100H(1.1): 1. Chadwick 12.78 (AL);

2. Taliyah Brooks (US) 12.86 PR; 3. Cindy Ofili (GB) 13.02; 4. Klaudia Wojtunik (Pol) 13.21; 5. Zoe Sedney (Neth) 13.24 PR; 6. Mette Graversgaard (Den) 13.25; 7. Anja Lukić (Ser) 13.48; 8. Yanique Thompson (Jam) 13.52.

Field Event

LJ: 1. Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (Ukr) 22-8 (6.91) (21-6, f, 21-10¾, 21-10¾, 22-3½, 22-8) (6.55, f, 6.67, 6.67, 6.79, 6.91); 2. Khaddi Sagnia (Swe) 22-5¾ (6.85); 3. Ese Brume (Ngr) 22-¼ (6.71); 4. Milica Gardasevic (Ser) 21-2½ (6.46); 5. Taliyah Brooks (US) 20-8 (6.30); 6. Eva Bastmeijer (Neth) 20-3 (6.17); 7. Yariadmis Argüelles (Por) 18-10 (5.74) (officially, Brume 2, Sagnia 3).