Williams-Mills, Spencer claim titles
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
On a night of spectacular performances, Kaliese Spencer was the only Jamaican winner on the final day of the 2014 Diamond League meeting for 2014, the AG Insurance Memorial Van Damme in Brussels.
The Commonwealth Games champion notched her seventh win of the season as she and Novlene Williams-Mills secured their respective diamond races. However, it was the American Justin Gatlin who set the meet alight with a world-leading time in the 100m to remain unbeaten for the season and also claim his share of the Diamond League bounty.
During the meet where there were eight world-leading performances, the high jump world record came under serious threat as two of the best jumpers in history pushed each other to the second best jump of all time.
In warm and humid conditions, Spencer completed her dominance of the 400m hurdles coasting to a comfortable victory in 54.12 seconds well clear of Denisa Rosolova, who produced a season's best 54.54, and Eilidh Child 54.76. The win put Spencer on 30 points, 23 ahead of Child.
Sanya Richards-Ross ran a fast 49.98 to win the 400 metres but was powerless to stop Williams-Mills from claiming the title. The Jamaica-born American won ahead of a fast-finishing Stephenie Ann McPherson, who delivered a season best 50.12. Williams-Mills started off slowly and was unable to peg Richards-Ross back and finished third in 50.42.
Only Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake were missing from a high-quality 100m field that included some of the fastest men of all time. Gatlin, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Tyson Gay, Kim Collins, Richard Thompson, Mike Rodgers, Kemar Bailey-Cole and James Dasaolu all faced the starter with five of them having a shot at winning the diamond. It promised to be a classic, and Gatlin duly delivered.
The American, who was unbeaten in 16 races before yesterday's contest, notched his 17th win in a world-leading 9.77 to claim the diamond. Rodgers was second in 9.93 ahead of Powell, 9.95, and Bailey-Cole who equalled his season best time of 9.96 for fourth.
Gatlin returned an hour later to claim the 200m in 19.71, the second fastest time in the world this year behind his own 19.68. The American was Bolt-like in his execution to win by more than three metres over Qatar's Femi Ogunode 20.15 and Panama's Alonso Edwards, 20.26.
Kimberley Williams (14.13m) was fifth in the triple jump that was won by the dominant Colombian Caterine Ibarguen with a 14.75m effort. The Colombian was comfortably ahead of Olha Saladukha 14.53m and Yekaterina Koneva 14.40m.
The women's 200m was a straight battle between Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare, 11 points, and race leader Alyson Felix, 13 points, for the diamond. In the end, it proved a no-contest as Felix ran away from the field to deliver a world-leading 22.02 to grasp the diamond. Myriam Soumare finished second in a personal best 22.11. Okagbare was sixth in 22.60.
As it has been all season, the high jump turned out to be another duel between Ukrainian Bodhan Bondarenko and Qatar's Essa Mutaz Barshim. Both men broke the meet record with jumps of 2.40m and came extremely close to Javier Satomayor's 21-year-old world record of 2.45m. But it was Barshim who delivered the second highest jump of all time, a world lead clearing 2.43m to claim the win and the title.