The introductions were fantastic, sounding every bit like a UFC fight. But the odds favoring Usain Bolt against Tyson Gay at the DN Galan, a Diamond League meet Friday in Stockholm, were even greater than Anderson Silva’s odds against Chael Sonnen.
The delays were annoying. It took two tries just to get everyone set. But then it was a clean start, with Gay getting out slightly ahead of Bolt.
And he stayed there. Win and meet record 9.84 for Gay, just 0.02 off Bolt’s world lead.
Neither guy has been fully healthy this season, so there’s only so much we can read into this. It was a convincing margin — Gay at 9.84, Bolt at 9.97.
Asafa Powell was unable to run but maintained his Diamond League lead in absentia.
Other highlights included the typical impressive runs from Bershawn Jackson and Allyson Felix, along with an upset in the women’s 100 hurdles and a personal best from a U.S. distance contender. Full rundown (the Universal Sports broadcast had a technical hitch at the beginning, so I missed a couple of events):
400 hurdles (m): Bershawn “Batman” Jackson (USA) tore into the second curve to make up ground on Angelo Taylor (USA) and Javier Culson (PUR) and blow by them, setting a meet record of 47.65. Taylor’s form deserted him as he took wild leaps over the hurdles, but he still finished third. No doubt in the Diamond race — it’s Jackson all the way. Second-place Kerron Clement (USA) was absent.
High jump (w): As we’ve seen all season, this came down to a duel between Blanka Vlasic (CRO) and Chaunte Howard-Lowe (USA). The American missed early, clipping the bar with her heel at 1.94 meters, well under her world lead of 2.05. She clipped it again at 1.97, but the bar stayed up. She was clearing the bar with several inches to spare, and she flew over the bar on the second attempt at 2.00. Vlasic also needed two jumps to clear 2.00. But Vlasic cleared 2.02 on the second attempt, and Lowe just didn’t get it, hitting the bar with her backside on the last attempt. The result was familiar — Vlasic, then Lowe.
100 hurdles (w): Big upset here — Sally Pearson (AUS) led throughout against a very good field, including dominant Lolo Jones (USA). Jones was third behind Pearson and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. This wasn’t Beijing, where Jones tripped and left Pearson and Lopes-Schliep to take second and third behind Dawn Harper (USA). Pearson won in 12.57, Lopes-Schliep in 12.59, Jones in 12.70. Jones maintains a three-point lead over Lopes-Schliep in the Diamond standings.
200 (w): Allyson Felix (USA) consolidated her Diamond lead with a win in 22.41, just holding off Shalonda Solomon (USA) and Bianca Knight (USA) in a U.S. sweep. The announcers seemed to think Felix was in trouble. She wasn’t. Close, but she was winning all the way.
800 (m): Khadevis Robinson (USA) had pacemaking duty, and it seemed for a while that he might stay out in front. Marcin Lewandowki (POL) finally caught him with 200 left and gave him a little nudge to tell him to get lost. Lewandowski held on for the win in a slowish time of 1:45.06, holding off late-charging Michael Rimmer (GBR) by 0.05 seconds. Americans Nick Symmonds and Leo Manzano finished 5-6. Diamond leader and world leader David Rudisha (KEN) was absent.
1,500 (w): Curious event — Nancy Langat (KEN) is the Olympic champion and Diamond leader, but she just can’t seem to crack the 4-minute barrier. This race was quick and crowded, with Gelete Burka (ETH) knocked down on a curve. Langat pulled away but yet again missed the 4-minute mark. Langat extended her Diamond lead to six points. Top Americans were Morgan Uceny (5th) and witty Tweeter Shannon Rowbury (7th).
5,000 (m): Chris Solinsky (USA) stayed with the leading pack until the last 150 meters and ran a personal best of 12:55.53, flirting with Bernard Lagat’s U.S. record of 12:54.12. The top three also set personal bests — Mark Kosgei Kiptoo (KEN) in 12:53.46, then Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH) and Imane Merga (ETH). Merga added a point to his Diamond lead and holds a six-point edge.
3,000 steeplechase (w): Yuliya Zaredneva (RUS) ran away from Diamond leader Milcah Chemos Cheiywa (KEN).
Triple jump (m): Christian Olsson (SWE) gave it a good effort in his home country but lost by 0.04m to Teddy Tamgho (FRA), who took the Diamond lead ahead of Viktor Kuznetsov (UKR).
Javelin (m): Ainars Kovals (LAT) won the “precision javelin,” which sounds like a fun event to watch, even if our announcer on this feed scoffed at it as “something for fans.” Heaven forbid. The actual competition was the final event to finish, with Olympic champion and Diamond leader Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR) taking his final throw with the whole stadium paying rapt attention. It wasn’t a good one, and he was unable to reclaim the lead from Tero Pitkamaki (FIN), who had gone nearly a meter farther than Thorkildsen’s best on his fifth throw.
Pole vault (w): It’s an odd year for event with dominant Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS) sitting out. Stacy Dragila (USA) has finally retired. The gaggle of U.S. women following in Dragila’s footsteps has petered out except for Jenn Suhr, who is also sitting out with injury after setting the world-leading height of 4.89 meters. That leaves us with Dragila’s one-time rival, Svetlana Feofanova, chasing Fabiana Murer (BRA). But Murer, the Diamond leader, bailed out of a third attempt at 4.61. Murer still added to her Diamond lead with a third-place finish, while Feofanova won and took an unconvincing shot at the meet record of 4.86.
Events I didn’t see:
Shot put (m): Christian Cantwell (USA) continues his reign of terror, winning by more than a meter. He kept some suspense by not taking the lead until his fourth throw out of six. He has 20 points in the Diamond Race; second-place Dylan Armstrong (CAN) has 6. This was held the day before in the city center.
Long jump (w): Brittney Reese (USA) kept the Diamond lead despite a second-place finish by 0.03m to Darya Klishina (RUS). Reese has 10; Naide Gomes (POR) finished third to move her total to 7. Klishina is third with 5.
400 (w): Another event with a Russian beating an in-form American. Tatyana Firova (RUS) won in 50.46 ahead of Debbie Dunn, whose 50.59 was well off her world-leading time of 49.64. Allyson Felix (USA) didn’t run here but is tied for the Diamond lead.
One non-Diamond League note: Paul Kipsiele Koech (KEN) won the 3,000 steeplechase in 8:02.18, more than two second off his meet record but more than 10 seconds ahead of the field.