Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Double delight in Brussels

Published:Saturday | September 10, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Julian Forte of Jamaica celebrates after winning the 200m at the Diamond League Memorial Van Damme athletics event, at the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels yesterday. Forte clocked 19.97 seconds.

BRUSSELS, Belgium:

Jamaican track and field jewels, Elaine Thompson and Stephenie-Ann McPherson, secured double-Diamond delight in Brussels yesterday, winning the Diamond League Trophy for the women's 100m and 400m respectively, while Julian Forte chiselled his name in the sub-20 club after a close 200m win.

The IAAF Diamond League circuit came to an end with confetti, pop music and fireworks, transforming the King Baudouin Stadium into what seemed more like an EDM festival as 16 athletes confirmed a season of consistency by lifting Diamond trophies to the sky, with minds no doubt also on the big US$40,000 prize money that comes with it.

Thompson just needed to finish in the top two to claim her first and the fifth consecutive 100m title by a Jamaican, but she hasn't seen anyone's heels this season in a 100m race and didn't seem like she was in the mood to leave anything to chance anyway.

The double Olympic sprint champion - in what has become a familiar sight, manhandled the rest of the field, winning in a meet record - equalling 10.72 seconds ahead of Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers 10.97 with young Jamaican Christania Williams, 11.09 taking third. Simone Facey, 11.23 and Natasha Morrison, 11.64 were sixth and either respectively.

"It's my first Diamond Trophy, and I will cherish it like it was a gold medal. It's a big deal to win an event like this, and to end the season undefeated in the 100m, its been great," Thompson smiled after her win, the 12th of the season in the event.

"I was able to stay relaxed and composed throughout the race; I'm pleased with the performance," Thompson added.

 

5-year 100m winning streak

 

Her Diamond success extends a women's 100m streak for Jamaican athletes that started in 2012 with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who again won in 2013 and 2015, with Veronica Campbell-Brown taking the title in 2014.

McPherson came into her event just three points ahead of American Natasha Hastings.

A third-place finish in 50.51 - the same time attributed to second-place athlete Courtney Okolo (USA) was enough to see get her on the podium for the post-meet trophy ceremony with Hastings running third in 50.84.

The event was won by 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya, who ran a personal best 50.40 to send a late season warning - or perhaps an early one ahead of next year, to the 400m contingent with Shericka Jackson, who won bronze in Rio taking fourth in 50.73.

"I'm very excited about winning here and getting the Diamond Trophy. It means that I already have my spot to the World Championships next year, and in the coming season I can just focus on staying healthy," said McPherson.

 

World Champs wild cards

 

IAAF Diamond Trophy wins grant a wild-card entry to the World Championships in the subsequent year. While McPherson's entry for London 2017 is pretty much guaranteed, it's not quite the same for Thompson given that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's title as defending world champion in the 100m also carrying a wild-card and history, in terms of the JAAA selectors showing that the world champion gets the nod over the Diamond League winner when there is a clash.

Jamaica will also have wild-card entries in the men's 100m and 200m with Usain Bolt and the women's 100m hurdles, with Danielle Williams all provisionally entered given their gold medals at Beijing 2015.

Of note, Asafa Powell also won the 100m Diamond Trophy at the previous meeting in Zurich.

Forte was the other Jamaican headlining yesterday's meet, clocking a personal best 19.97 seconds to become the 10th Jamaican to run faster than 20 seconds in the 200m. He won ahead of Adam Gemili, who matched his time with Churandy Martina, 19.98 getting third.

Kaliese Spencer didn't get the season best she was hoping for, clocking 55.05 for third in the 400m hurdles behind Diamond Race winner Cassandra Tate (USA), 54.47 and Sara Slott Petersen (Denmark), 54.60. There was also disappointment for Kimberly Williams, 13.84m who was fifth in the women's triple jump and Damar Forbes, 7.77m, who was sixth in the men's long jump.

Yesterday's other confirmed Diamond Race winners from Brussels were: Almaz Ayana (women's 5000m); Caterine Ibarguen (Women's triple jump); Valerie Adams (women's shot put); Katerina Stefanidi (women's pole vault); Madara Palameika (women's javelin); Conseslus Kipruto (men's 3000m steeplechase); Orlando Ortega (110m hurdles); Asbel Kiprop (men's1500m); Ferguson Rotich (men's 800m); Alonso Edwards (men's 200m); Piotr Malachowski (men's discus); Fabrice Lapierre (men's long jump); Erik Kynard (men's high jump).