5 Takeaways from the Doha Diamond League

By Owen Corbett

May 10, 2024

The third leg of the 2024 Diamond League tour in Doha had no shortage of close finishes and athletes making early season statements. Read below for some of the best performances and most important takeaways from the competition.

Full results can be found here.

Kung Fu Kenny In Olympic-Year Form

Kenny Bednarek is on fire. Let’s put some context on Bednarek’s 19.67 (+1.7) to win the men’s 200m. First it was a meet record, replacing the 19.83 mark from some guy named Noah Lyles. Secondly, it was a personal best, one hundredth of a second faster than the time that won him the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. And lastly, it was a world lead, taking that mantle from fellow American Courtney Lindsey who finished second in the Doha race (20.01).

Perhaps the most important takeaway from Bednarek’s win was how thoroughly he dominated the field over the last hundred meters of the race – a field that included some of his top competitors for the U.S. 200m Olympic team. Bednarek is undefeated over both 100m and 200m this spring, and just handed Lindsey his first loss in the longer event.

It’s important to remember that unlike the World Championships the past two years, there is no spot for a fourth American on the team. That means at least one of Bednarek, Lyles, Lindsey, and World silver medalist Erriyon Knighton will be left without a chair when the music stops.

The Rest Of The Americans Struggle

Although the U.S. may not have sent much of its usual roster of World champions to this meet, they likely expected to come home with more than just one win.

Alaysha Johnson was the favorite in the women’s 100m hurdles but clipped the first hurdle and tripped over the second, leading to a disqualification. In the same event, world leader Tonea Marshall (12.51) was out-leaned at the line by Swiss record holder Ditaji Kambundji (12.49). In a bright spot, Amber Hughes continued her breakout season with a sizable personal best (4th, 12.54).

Over the same distance minus the hurdles, Brit Daryll Neita (10.98) upset a pair of Americans for the second time in as many meets. After taking down Sha’Carri Richardson in Suzhou over 200m, Neita edged Tamari Davis (10.99) and Celera Barnes (11.02) at the line. The wind was favorable, but legal at +2.0 m/s.

In the 400m, Vernon Norwood (45.49) and Quincy Hall (45.98) finished fourth and seventh, respectively, albeit against a quality field.

Pole Vaulter Sandi Morris came to Doha with one of the best cases to win of any American, but finished sixth (4.53m) in a pole vault competition where all of the athletes struggled with a crosswind in the stadium. World Indoor champ Molly Caudrey won on countback with a vault of 4.73m.

Elsewhere in the field, several past U.S. champs had rough days. Will Williams bowed out of the long jump after just one attempt, Curtis Thompson finished last in the javelin by nearly three meters (73.46m), and Sam Mattis finished seventh in a discus competition where he had the fourth-best PB.

To close the night Isaac Updike (9th, 8:20.86) had an impressive season opener in the men’s steeplechase, but fell short of the 8:15 Olympic standard. The broadcasters reported that fellow American Mason Ferlic tweaked a muscle during warmups and had to withdraw from the race.

Distance Events Give Racing Fans A Good Show

More frequently than fans would like, distance races at Diamond League meets turn into solo time trials for the frontrunners, whose only competition is the pace lights. Fortunately today we got some good ones.

Coming into the final turn in the men’s 1500m, nearly the whole field was still in contention, and right as I was ready to declare “Timothy Cheruiyot is BACK!” his relatively unknown countryman Brian Komen (3:32.43) pipped him at the line to take the win. Cheruiyot (3:32.67), who was looking for his first Diamond League win since 2021, will still get fans excited with the result. The 25-year-old Komen however, who has only two years of results on his World Athletics profile, is making a name for himself against Kenya’s heavy hitters. Back in March he won the 1500m at the African Games over Abel Kipsang – a two-time fourth place finisher in global finals – whom he beat again today (13th, 3:35.67). Komen also got revenge today over Reynold Cheriuyot (3rd, 3:32.96) who spoiled his personal best effort at the Kip Keino Classic a few weeks ago.

On the women’s side, the race seemed to be turning into a time trial for Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu, who broke away from the field during the first lap. Hailu went through 800m on pace for a blazing 3:51 mark, but struggled in the wind during the second half and the chase pack led by Aussie champ Jess Hull began to close. If this were a mile, Hull would probably be the one with the champions’ flowers around her neck, but Hailu held on 4:00.42 to 4:00.84.

In the women’s 5000m, it was a three-woman race headed into the final lap, but the drama unfolded in the last 200m. Ethiopian Ejgayehu Taye (14:29.26), who led the entire second half of the race, tried to run the legs out of Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet (14:26.98), but drifted to the outside of lane one. Chebet went to pass on the inside but Taye cut back in to deny her. Chebet then moved out and around, blazing past Taye and crushing the final 200m for the win. Ethiopian 19-year-old Medina Eisa (14:34.11) also went under the previous world lead in third place.

At the front of the men’s steeplechase, we certainly got a tight finish between Ethiopia’s Samuel Firewu (8:07.25) and Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot (8:07.38), both of whom passed Getnet Wale (3rd, 8:09.69) down the finishing straight. Firewu, who just turned 20 last week, took home his first Diamond League win in both world-lead and personal-best fashion.

Alison Dos Santos Makes A Statement

Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos (46.86) took home a convincing win in the men’s 400m hurdles. Even more impressive was the fact that he did it in his season opener. Dos Santos, who won his first Diamond League since he dominated the scene in 2022, became only the second man in history to open his season with a sub-47 clocking (2023 Karsten Warholm, 46.52). In fact, this is the first time we have ever seen someone run under 47 in the hurdles before the calendar turns to June.

Neither Warholm nor Rai Benjamin has hurdled yet this outdoor season, so those will certainly be performances to watch. Regardless, Dos Santos has put himself right back into the conversation for the Olympic title in Paris, which could be one of the most anticipated events of the whole Games.

American CJ Allen took second in a season’s best of 48.39, but is still on the outside looking in on the medal conversation as he moves to 0-21 all-time against Dos Santos/Warholm/Benjamin.

Mary Moraa Keeps It Interesting

Kenya’s Mary Moraa (1:57.91) held off a challenge from Jemma Reekie (1:58.42) down the home straight to win the women’s 800m. Moraa’s wide-running, pace-changing style always makes for a fascinating viewing experience – and is probably awful for the women trying to run in her shadow. And with her second sub-1:58 of the spring, Moraa is proving that she is the woman to beat week after week, building incredible hype for her matchup with Athing Mu and Keely Hodgkinson at the Prefontaine Classic in two weeks. Hayward Field might be Moraa’s kryptonite however, as her only loss since the 2022 World Championships (in Eugene) came at last year’s Diamond League Final when it was hosted… in Eugene.

We may get a preview of Moraa vs. Mu next weekend as NBC listed both athletes as stars to watch at the upcoming L.A. Grand Prix.

5 More Rapid Fire Takeaways

  • Although it doesn’t count in the Diamond League standings, Kristjan Čeh opened his outdoor season with a win in the men’s discus (70.48m). It was Čeh’s first 70m+ opener, and his 12th career competition surpassing the mark, second only to Daniel Stahl (16) among active throwers. Čeh got redemption over Australian champ Matthew Denny (69.02m) who beat him last year in the Diamond League final.
  • Bahamian Steven Gardiner (44.76) cruised to victory in the first event in the TV window, the men’s 400m. Gardiner’s win was his third in Doha and his ninth Diamond League victory all-time, tying him for second among active runners (Wayde Van Niekerk), behind only Kirani James’s tally of 17.
  • Former Arkansas Razorback Carey McLeod, who jumps for Jamaica, took down Olympic long jump champ Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.36m) with a massive fourth round jump of 8.52m. McLeod’s jump would have been a personal best, meet record, and world lead all at once if it hadn’t been for a massive 5.2m/s tailwind.
  • Serbian teenager Angelina Topic won the women’s high jump (1.94m) over 2022 World champion Eleanor Patterson of Australia (3rd, 1.91m), and 2017 World silver medalist Yuliia Levchenko of Ukraine (8th, 1.84m). The competition served as an encore for high jump fans who made the trip to see Mutaz Barshim win the inaugural “What Gravity Challenge” last night (2.31m), a competition that Barshim created and was hosted by his home country.
  • Olympic champ Neeraj Chopra (88.36m) of India came up just two centimeters short of stealing the win from rival Jakub Vadlejch (88.38m) of the Czech Republic on his final throw of the men’s javelin competition.

That’s it for Doha! Next weekend, Diamond League action continues on Sunday in Morocco. Stay tuned for a meet preview, live coverage, analysis, and more as the pro season continues to unfold.

Owen Corbett

Huge sports fan turned massive track nerd. Statistics major looking to work in sports research. University of Connecticut club runner (faster than Chris Chavez but slower than Kyle Merber).