Russell rules world in 400m hurdles
Back-to-back Diamond League wins, a shiny personal best and world-leading time to match, Janieve Russell's name will be hogging headlines as Jamaica's latest senior standout rubber-stamped her credentials with a commanding win in the 400m hurdles at the Golden Gala Rome Diamond League yesterday.
She, however, was not the only Jamaican who had their way in the Italian capital, with her MVP Track Club teammate Elaine Thompson again turning heads with a powerful win in the 100m in what was her second-fastest time over the distance to join her as Diamond Race leader after three of seven assignments.
Triple jumpers Shanieka Thomas and Kimberly Williams as well as discus man Fedrick Dacres all left the Stadio Olimpico with smiles on their faces, while quarter-miler Rusheen McDonald continued to struggle after an interrupted start to his season, which was affected by a near-death motor vehicle accident, with another disappointment in the 400m.
After turning back a top field in Rabat a few weeks ago and lowering her personal best to 54.16, Russell, a former Holmwood Technical and current University of Technology student, took control of the event at the 200m mark and hardly looked bothered as she ran away for the win in a time of 53.96. She now holds 20 points - six more than Doyle - in the race for the Diamond trophy and US$40,000 prize money.
It was a telling run from the young World Championships finalist, who left South African Wenda Theron Nel, 54.61, and Great Britain's Eilidh Doyle, 54.81, with experienced Jamaican and four-time Diamond Race winner Kaliese Spencer, 55.51, lagging behind in sixth place.
In the women's 100m, Thompson also took her tally to 20 points in the event after posting 10.87 for her win ahead of English Gardner (USA), 10.92, and Barbara Pierre (USA), 11.13.
The World 200m silver medallist found herself with some work to do after coming out of the blocks but stretched her legs powerfully to reel in the American and notch her fourth straight win in the short sprint this season.
Both Jamaican competitors in the women's triple jump were pleased after their efforts in the event and for different reasons.
The pair of Thomas and Williams, who both qualified for the final at last year's World Championships, were competitive throughout the event, with Thomas' 14.46m giving her a third-place finish behind the dominant Caterine Ibarguen (Colombia), 14.78m, and Kazakhstan's Olga Rypakova, 14.51m.
Williams, who was opening her season after her latest hamstring injury setback a few weeks ago, improved her mark on each of her first three attempts to register a best effort of 14.38m for fourth place before passing on her final two attempts after complaining of a 'dead leg' after her fourth jump.
Still it was a positive return for the five-time national champion, who like Thomas, will now turn her attention to the Birmingham Diamond League meet on Sunday.
Dacres, who was competing in his first Diamond League meet was also satisfied with his fourth-place finish in the men's discus event after landing the implement at 63.50m.
It was well below his world number-four ranked 68.02m throw, which he posted in April as Robert Urbanek (Poland), 65.00 won ahead of Victor Hogan (South Africa), 64.03m and Robert Harting (Germany), 63.96m.
Kingston-bound World 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk, who competes at the Jamaica National Racers Grand Prix next weekend clocked the fourth-fastest time this season with a 44.19 win ahead of Grenada's Bralon Taplin, 44.43 and Isaac Makwala (Botswana), 44.85. McDonald finished eight in 46.05.
Ethiopia's record-chasing Almaz Ayana was again impressive as she won the women's 5000m in a world-leading and Diamond League record, 14:12.59, the second-fastest time in history, while Greg Rutherford (Great Britain), 8.31m won the men's long jump.
Justin Gatlin clocked a season best 9.93 to win the non-Diamond League listed 100m event with Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto dropping a world leading 8:01.41 to win the men's 3000m steeplechase.