Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Powell steals the show

Published:Friday | September 2, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Jamaica's Elaine Thompson (left) catches Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands on the line in the women's 200m race at the IAAF Diamond League international athletics meeting in Zurich, Switzerland yesterday. Thompson clocked 21.85 seconds with Schippers second in 21.86.
Jamaica's Asafa Powell (right) capturing the men's 100 metres in 9.94 seconds during yesterday's IAAF Diamond League international athletics meeting in Zurich, Switzerland. Akani Simbine (left) of South Africa was second while Ben Youssef Meite (second right) of Cote d'Ivoire placed third.
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ZURICH, Switzerland:

A shiny new 100m Diamond League trophy, US$40,000, and his 97th sub-10 seconds time in his career, things couldn't have gone better for Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, who, despite enduring what he would consider a disappointing season by his standards, left the Letzigrund Stadium with one of the broadest smiles after a successful Weltklasse 2016 Zurich Diamond League outing.

He wasn't the only one smiling.

Double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson was the happier after herself and Dutch rival Dafne Schippers rolled to the finish line in an epic 200 metres battle in the latest episode of a clash that looks set to excite track and field fans for years to come.

Thompson had yet more reason to celebrate yesterday after scorching the track on her second leg to help the Jamaican team, which was completed by Christania Williams, Simone Facey and Veronica Campbell-Brown to a commanding win in the women's 4x100m in a time of 41.65 - a time that bettered Great Britain's bronze medal-winning mark from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Powell, who stopped the clock at 9.94 seconds, told The Gleaner after his race that he was thrilled with the win and everything that came with it, noting that he was always confident that he would walk away with the bounty.

"I'm really happy for this win. The race wasn't perfect because I had a slip in the blocks, but I was always confident that I would win here and I am really pleased to win my third Diamond League title," Powell said.

Second place went to South African Akani Simbine, who continued his impressive season with a 9.99 finish ahead of the Cote d'Ivoire's Ben Youssef Meite, who clocked the same time. Meite, who came into the meet as the leader in the Diamond Race for the 100m, ended with 24 points - two less than the Jamaican, who started the day in third position.

Omar McLeod, the 110m hurdles Olympic gold medal-winner, found things a little rougher in the flat sprint, clocking 10.12 for sixth place - not close to his 9.99 personal best in the event, but right around his target for yesterday.

"This was what my coach and I were looking for," McLeod said. "Man, it was tough out there, but it was also fun and I will definitely be doing more 100m races and looking to learn the event and improve."

Already the first sprint hurdler to also boast a sub-10 seconds 100m on his resume, that was McLeod's second competitive 100m race in his life. McLeod will return to the 110m hurdles at the next Diamond League meet in Brussels. He is in second place in the ranking on 26 points behind Spain's Orlando Ortega.

Thompson got the win and perhaps threw another psychological dart in Schippers' direction with her 21.85 seconds victory in the 200m - the fastest time ever at the Diamond League, but it was the Netherlands star who left with the spoils after already securing the diamond in the event before the starter exercised his finger.

Schippers came off the curve in front, but the Jamaican timed her attack perfectly, catching her at the line with Schippers crossing in 21.86. Allyson Felix was third in 22.02, with other Jamaicans, Simone Facey, 22.50 (season's best) and Campbell-Brown (22.51) running fifth and sixth, respectively.

"Honestly, I didn't even know I was going that fast," said Thompson. "I wanted to be as smooth as possible coming off the curve and I just gave it my all going to the line."

Thompson ended the 200m Diamond League campaign on 30 points, well behind Schippers (48). The pair will go at it again over 100m in Brussels on September 9, with the Jamaican holding the ace with 30 points to the Dutch sprinter's 22 ahead of that event's finale.

Megan Simmonds was sixth in 12.90 seconds in the 100m hurdles event, which was won by world record holder Kendra Harrison in 12.63 as he underscored her dominance with a Diamond Trophy win. Cindy Ofili was second in 12.70, with Dawn Harper-Nelson taking third in 12.73.

The first Jamaican on the track was Christania Williams, who clocked the fastest time in the two pre-international programme women's 100m event, winning her section in 11.04 seconds, with American Barbara Pierre, 11.20, and Ukraine's Natalia Pohrebniak, 11.23, finishing second and third, respectively.