Five Takeaways From The Stockholm Diamond League

By Owen Corbett

June 2, 2024

We got a double Diamond League treat this week with two Scandinavian meets over the span of four days in Oslo and Stockholm. Sunday’s meet in Sweden featured national heroes, a world record attempt, and a world lead, but the biggest spotlight was on reigning World champion Femke Bol’s 400m hurdles season debut. Below we have all of the biggest takeaways from the final Diamond League meet before a month-long break for countries to hold their national championships with the Olympics coming into focus.

Femke Bol Responds, But McLaughlin-Levrone Remains In The Driver's Seat

Dutch superstar Femke Bol (53.07) just ran the fastest season opener of her career; surely she comes away from it as the gold medal favorite right? Well, just two days earlier, reigning Olympic champ Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone opened her season even faster in 52.70.

Bol was pushed by the field, as she came into the eighth hurdle dead even with Jamaicans Rushell Clayton (53.78) and Andrenette Knight (54.62), but surged away from them down the final straight. On the other hand, McLaughlin-Levrone essentially ran her race alone, winning by more than three seconds.

While comparisons like this are imperfect, they are the best we will get until Paris, as Bol and McLaughlin-Levrone will likely not face off until the Olympic final, assuming both make it there healthy.

Clayton finished second, just off her season’s best, and should be a favorite for the bronze medal in Paris as she has four of the top ten times in the world this season. The race was Clayton’s first loss of the year.

On the men’s side, Alison Dos Santos (47.01), a Stockholm champion in 2021 and 2022, continued his undefeated season with his third Diamond League win of the year. The season is beginning to resemble his 2022 campaign in which he won seven Diamond League races, as well as a World title along the way.

The Brazilian topped the legendary Edwin Moses’s former world record that stood from 1983 to 1992 by .01, and to show how far the event has come since then, the mark is only the seventh fastest of Dos Santos’s career. The big three (Dos Santos, Rai Benjamin, and Karsten Warholm) continue to be miles ahead of everyone else in the event, as Dos Santos’s time was the trio’s slowest this season, but it was still nearly a second faster than anyone else in the world has run.

Last year’s World silver medalist Kyron McMasterof the British Virgin Islands finished a distant second in Stockholm in 48.05, his fastest time of the season to date.

Girma Dominates Steeplechase Season Opener

World record holder Lamecha Girma ran his first race over barriers in Stockholm and had no problem dispatching a field that included three other sub-8:10 men. Girma ran alone for the last kilometer and coasted to a new world lead of 8:01.63 without kicking down the finishing straight.

Fellow Ethiopian Samuel Firewu (8:05.78), who held the world lead coming into the day, set a personal best in second place. After the 20-year old grabbed his first Diamond League win earlier this year, the 2022 World U20 silver medalist seems primed to make his senior international debut later this summer.

Ethiopia’s other top steeplechaser, Getnet Wale (8:10.73) finished fourth and trailed Girma by more than nine seconds. That gap is significant given Wale finished just 0.29 seconds behind World champion Soufiane El Bakkali in the Moroccan’s season debut last month. Could this finally be the year that Girma upgrades from silver and takes the mantle from the 28-year-old El Bakkali?

Mohamed Amin Jhinaoui (8:10.41) lowered his own Tunisian record in third place, and World Indoor champ Geordie Beamish came off a sub-3:50 Bowerman Mile well to clock an 8:14.71 in his 2024 steeplechase debut. In 2023, Beamish’s first year in the event, the Kiwi opened up the season in 8:20 and took five races to get down to 8:13, so if he’s opening his sophomore season much closer to mid-summer form, he could easily be in the medal conversation come August.

Shericka Jackson Wins, But Concerns Still Remain

Just three days removed from her worst 200m race in more than half a decade, two-time World Champion Shericka Jackson got back atop the podium in her signature event with a 22.69 in Stockholm. While the time still does not look like one that Jackson is used to running, the 2.0m headwind may be able to explain some of that.

What it doesn’t explain however, is Jackson’s narrow margin of victory. The Jamaican never put significant distance over a field that didn’t feature anyone with a SB under 22.5 (American Brittany Brown, who won in Oslo earlier in the week, was a DNS after finishing third in the 100m). Jackson won the race by just 0.2 seconds over Swedish runner Julia Henriksson (22.89), who may have had the support of the home crowd, but as someone who went out in the first round of the 200m in Budapest last year, she had no business being that close to the World champ. Furthermore, Jackson was fresh while Henriksson was not, the Swede finished fifth in the 100m (11.37) just 90 minutes earlier.

The women’s 100m was won by Gina Mariam Bass Bittaye (11.15) of The Gambia, who outleaned veteran Marie Josée Ta Lou-Smith (11.16) of the Ivory Coast. If you are unfamiliar with Bass Bittaye, a first-time Diamond League winner, study up, as she is in the midst of an impressive season. A double gold medalist from the African Games earlier this year, she has won 13 of her 14 races in 2024. Bass Bitaye’s 10.93 personal best came just two weeks ago as she looks to return to a global final for the first time since she advanced that far in the 200m in 2019.

Favorites Fare Well In the Field

The athlete that garnered the loudest cheers in Stockholm on Sunday was pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis. The Swede won the competition easily with a 6.00m clearance, and then gave the crowd a thrill with three incredibly close attempts at a new world record of 6.25m. American’s Sam Kendricks (5.90m) and KC Lightfoot (5.80m) had good days finishing second and third, but two-time global silver medalist Chris Nilsen continued his difficult outdoor season, finishing last in 5.40m

Sweden’s other Olympic champ competing on Sunday, Daniel Ståhl (66.10m), finished third in the men’s discus behind world record holder Mykolas Alekna of Lithuania, who took his second DL win of the week in 68.64m. Australian champ Matthew Denny passed Ståhl for second on his final 66.75m throw.

In the women’s high jump, reigning World champ Yaroslava Mahuchikh (2.00m) won in her outdoor season opener, tallying her 15th career Diamond League win and 30th career 2-meter clearance. And the Ukrainian won’t turn 23 until September.

In the women’s shot put, American Chase Jackson (20.00m) won her third Diamond League competition of the year, just edging World Indoor champ Sarah Mitton (19.98m) of Canada. Jackson has won four straight competitions, and shown incredible consistency in her Diamond League victories throwing 20.03m, 20.00m, and 20.00m. Those marks make up three of the five 20m throws of the outdoor season, as Jackson continues to show that her loss to Mitton indoors was somewhat of a fluke, winning eight of their last nine head-to-head matchups .

22-year-old Cuban Leyanis Pérez Hernández (14.67m) won the women’s triple jump over a stacked field, continuing her undefeated outdoor season with a second straight Diamond League win. Pérez Hernández’s only loss in six competitions this year was a second place finish at World Indoors.

Djamel Sedjati Doubles Down

Over the past six days, Algeria’s Djamel Sedjati (1:43.23) has produced the two fastest 800m times of the year. In the final event of the meet, Sedjati lowered his own World lead, and now holds three of the seven fastest times in the world over the last two seasons.

The 25-year-old is undefeated in three races this year including a 1000m race back in March, and beat an impressive field today that included American Bryce Hoppel (1:44.29) who didn’t run slow, but still finished a distant second. What’s perhaps most remarkable is Sedjati’s dramatic racing style – in his last two races, he’s put incredible gaps on strong fields in the final 150 meters of the race, an almost-unprecedented 800-meter race tactic on the professional level. Sedjati won World silver in 2022, but has his eyes on gold in his Olympic debut this summer in an event where no one seems to stay on top for very long in recent years.

2022 1500m World champion Jake Wightman (1:45.35) struggled down the final straight and finished eighth. With all the talk of adding new events to the World Athletics menu, Team GB should be petitioning to add a 4x800m as Wightman was only the third British finisher in the race and the nation has two other men under 1:45 already this season.

Five More Rapid Fire Takeaways:

– None of the sprint events were very fast in Stockholm, but both 100m races came down to a lean at the line. On the men’s side, Cameroon’s Emmanuel Eseme (10.16) edged American Kyree King (10.18) for his second Diamond League win of the year.

– Just three days after one of the most stellar distance races we’ve ever seen, some of the key players dropped down in distance to run the men’s 3000m in Stockholm. Norwegian Narve Nordås (7:33.49), who was coming off a disappointing 13th in the 1500m in Oslo, won in an outdoor world lead at the infrequently-run distance. Nordås kicked from 10th to first in the final 400m to edge Switzerland’s Dominic Lobalu (7:33.68), who broke onto the scene two years ago in this race with a win over Jacob Kiplimo. Lobalu couldn’t fend off the Norwegian’s kick with a 12:50 effort from Oslo still in his legs. In fourth through sixth, we saw three national records from Andreas Almgren (7:34.28) of Sweden, Ismail Mohamed (7:36.29) of Djibouti, and Adriaan Wildschutt (7:36.77) of South Africa. 12:42 man Telahun Haile Bekele (7:50.13) of Ethiopia finished last as he continues his supposed comeback from injury.

– The longest women’s race of the day, the 1500m, saw Brit Laura Muir (3:57.99) take home her third career win in Stockholm (and first since 2020) for her first victory of the outdoor season. While many European runners are gearing up for their championships next week, Muir is not on the UK’s team for Rome. Ethiopian teenager Birke Haylom (3:59.84) led most of the race but faded to fourth on the last lap. As for the Americans, Dani Jones (4:00.64) cut over a second off her personal best and had her highest career Diamond League finish in fifth, while Cory McGee (4:02.64) faded to eighth place in the last lap but still ran her best time of the season

– Before the TV window began, there were a pair of 400m races featuring encouraging wins by Americans. In the men’s race, reigning World bronze medalist Quincy Hall (44.68) took a big step forward from his early-season struggles. Hall hadn’t finished higher than fifth in any race yet this year, but in Stockholm he beat a field that included several other elite quarter-milers. Americans went 1-2 as Vernon Norwood finished second in 44.80. On the women’s side Alexis Holmes took home her fourth win of the year in 51.18.

– Also in the pre-TV window, Scot Jemma Reekie (1:57.79) took home the win in the women’s 800m and clocked her seventh sub-2:00 of the year (including indoors). She’ll be contesting the 1500m at the European Championships next week. The men’s 1500m was won by Germany’s Robert Farken in 3:33.53.

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).