Thompson, Richards eager to improve after Brussels efforts
Not even the motivated pair of Elaine Thompson and Allyson Felix could stop the bustling locomotive that is Dafne Schippers from running away with their high-profile 200m clash - not yesterday, not in front of a pro-Schippers crowd.
Still, the fast-rising Jamaican, fresh from her silver medal won at the recent IAAF World Championships in Beijing, left the series -closing AG Memorial Van Damme IAAF Diamond League in Brussels, Belgium, as encouraged as ever and eager to start working again towards a season that promises more for the MVP charge, with the Olympic Games ever nearer on the horizon.
Schippers, the world champion, showed that her Beijing gold medal was no fluke - and perhaps made it clear that Felix or not, nothing was going to stop her in China - producing a frightening burst in the last 50m to frankly overpower the others, stopping the clock at 22.12 in still wind.
Felix, who was consoled by the glistening Diamond Race trophy and the accompanying US$40,000, was second in 22.22, with Thompson crossing the line in 22.26. Sherone Simpson was sixth in 23.12.
"I'm not disappointed. I was looking forward to competing with these ladies," said Thompson. "I knew it would be a challenge, and it will only push and motivate me to work harder."
Gatlin's Diamond streak
Speaking of working hard, American Justin Gatlin - the Diamond winner - was made to dig deep for his win in the 100m as he protected his unbeaten run on the circuit, which dates back to 2014 with a laboured 9.98 win. Femi Ogunode (Qatar), who also came in at 9.98, was second, with Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut, 9.99, closing out an almost inseparable top three.
It was a bad day for Jamaican pair Nesta Carter, who looked for an early advantage and was ejected after a false start, and Asafa Powell, who finished fifth in 10.04.
In the men's shot put, World Championships bronze medallist O'Dayne Richards registered a 21.37m mark for second place, but his real target was 22m, leaving the ever-improving Jamaican slightly disappointed.
The event was won by New Zealand's Tom Walsh, 21.39, with Diamond Race winner and world champion American Joe Kovacs (21.35) finishing third.
Richards, who fouled on his last three attempts says, he will be going all out to meet his target at his last meet for the season in Berlin on Sunday.
"I have to give God thanks even when I lose. I have to learn that is part of the sport. Assessment-wise, I wanted to hit 22m today. I have one more chance. I kept missing the shot, not applying all the force on the shot, so it kept slipping and didn't go as far as I wanted it to go, but (it is) my best performance outside of a championships, so I'm happy for that," Richards told The Gleaner after his event.
Kimberly Williams got off to a good start but slipped to fourth in the women's triple jump, taking advantage of world champion Caterine Ibarg¸en's (Colombia) slow start, with her second effort 14.22m keeping her in the top two for much of the competition.
The Jamaican would eventually improve to 14.28m, but by then, she was already out of the top three, with Ibarg¸en taking her third straight win in Brussels and ensuring she won all but one of the six Diamond League competitions with a 14.60m mark. World Champs silver medallist Hanna Knyazheva-Minenko (Israel), 14.42m, was second, with Russian Ekaterina Koneva, 14.37m finishing third.
Stephenie-Ann McPherson, 51.00, was third in the women's 400m behind winner Shaunae Miller (Bahamas), 50.48, and Diamond Race winner Francena McCorory, 50.59. Christine Day, 51.96, was sixth, with Novlene Williams-Mills, 52.04 finishing seventh.
In the male equivalent, national record holder Rusheen McDonald seems to still be suffering from his 43.93 run in Beijing, finishing ninth here in 47.89, while Peter Matthews took third place in 45.74. The event was won by Renny Quow (T&T), 45.29, ahead of Belgian Kevin BorlÈe, 45.43.
Rasheed Dwyer, 20.27, was third in the 200m, with Antiguan Miguel Francis, 20.22, finishing second to the winner, Qatar's Femi Ogunode, who clocked a personal best and area record 19.97. Nickel Ashmeade was fifth in 20.59.