For athletes who earned a bronze medal in the 200m at the Tokyo Olympics, it was a good day. For everyone else, it was a mixed bag. Overall, the kickoff to the 2022 Diamond League series was a strange affair, impacted primarily by strong winds that slowed down times in the distance races and threw several field events askew.
Here’s a quick recap and takeaways from the Doha Diamond League:
MEN’S POLE VAULT: The men’s pole vault featuring Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis and Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen was postponed until tomorrow and will be contested indoors due to the wind. Based on the photo World Athletics shared, safety was a legit concern.
WOMEN’S 400M: The Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino kicked off the track action for the 2022 Diamond League and pulled off an early upset of double Olympic champion and reigning world indoor champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo (51.84, 3rd place) by winning in 51.20. Stephenie Ann McPherson also ran Miller-Uibo down in the final stretch to take second in 51.69. We’re hoping there isn’t a Track Snacks curse.
WOMEN’S 3000M: Francine Niyonsaba looked strong in her track season opener as she dueled with Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon over 3000 meters. Niyonsaba controlled the race from the front and still closed in 59.83 seconds for the final lap. Jessica Hull of the Union Athletics Club finished third in 8:40.97. Considering that times were slow across the board, Hull finishing within 4 seconds of her PB was a good show. Next up for Niyonsaba will be a world record attempt in the women’s 2-mile on May 27 at the Prefontaine Classic.
MEN’S 400M HURDLES: The men’s 400m hurdles also stumped the oddsmakers as Brazil’s Olympic bronze medalist Alison dos Santos beat Olympic silver medalist Rai Benjamin in a world-leading 47.24 to Benjamin’s 47.49. That’s the first time in their five career head-to-head races that dos Santos beat Benjamin. The winning time is also the second-best time of dos Santos’ career behind his 46.72 from the Tokyo Olympic final. The duo will match up again in a few weeks at the Prefontaine Classic. The 400m hurdles at the World Championships is shaping up to be another epic battle when world record holder and Olympic champion Karsten Warholm gets back in the mix. If we’re lucky, this trio will be around for years to come: the three Tokyo medalists are 26 (Warholm), 24 (Benjamin) and 21 (dos Santos) years old.
In the middle-distance events, the men’s 800m and 1500m turned into tactical affairs with no one going with pacer Erik Sowinski due to the windy conditions.
MEN’S 800M: 18-year-old Noah Kibet, who earned a World Indoor silver medal in the 800m just two months ago, won his Diamond League debut in 1:49.08. At the other end of the results, it was a day to forget for reigning world champion Donavan Brazier. Friday’s race was his first outdoor 800m since being injured at the Olympic Trials last summer and he finished sixth in 1:50.58. Since Brazier was healthy and fit as recently as March, there’s hopefully no real reason to panic yet. The fastest 800m time by an American so far this year actually came yesterday when Brazier’s former Oregon Project teammate Clayton Murphy won the American Track League meet in Puerto Rico with a 1:45.54 then declared, “I’m back.”
MEN’S 1500 METERS: Abel Kipsang evened the score in his head-to-head battles with Olympic silver medalist and reigning world champion Timothy Cheruiyot to 1-1. In a slow race with a fast kick, Kipsang held his compatriot off to win in 3:35.70. I’m sure Cheruiyot will rebound from this but I don’t think the likes of Jakob Ingebritsen should be overlooking Kipsang as the top Kenyan threat, if this continues.
WOMEN’S 100M HURDLES: Big +3.8 m/s wind reading in the women’s 100m hurdles and a photo finish for the top 3. Olympic silver medalist and world record holder Keni Harrison took the win in 12.43 just ahead of Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan and Jamaica’s Britany Anderson – who both ran 12.44.
MEN’S 200 METERS: The men’s 200m lived up to the hype with Fred Kerley and Noah Lyles going to the line but it was Lyles defending his turf in his specialty event with a 19.72s win (+2.1 m/s wind). Kerley was just .03 back. Lyles was in first place coming off the curve, a sign that all the early work on his start this indoor season is paying off. Lyles is now two-for-two in 200m races this year. After the race, he told the Diamond League media team, “I perform better under pressure, the crowd makes me excited. Actually, I feel good and satisfied about my position right now. My plan for the World Championship is to win, to always win.”
Noah Lyles for the win in the Doha Diamond League 200m 19.72 (+2.1 m/s wind) pic.twitter.com/YjYzup0LrX
— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) May 13, 2022
WOMEN’S 200 METERS: Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas tied the 200m meet record of 21.98 by Allyson Felix from 2015 with her victory. That time improves her official season’s best (she ran a wind-aided 21.69 in March) and keeps her at No. 3 in the world. Only Christine Mboma (21.87 at altitude) and LSU star Favour Ofili (21.96) have run faster on the year. Jamaica’s five-time Olympic medalist Shericka Jackson gave Thomas a strong battle to the line and finished second in 22.07.
— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) May 13, 2022
MEN’S JAVELIN: For the Big Throws Guys, 24-year-old Anderson Peters of Grenada improved his personal best from 87.31m to 93.07m for the fifth-longest throw in history. Peters is the reigning world champion (clearly he likes competing in Doha) but didn’t have the best showing at the Tokyo Olympics, where he finished sixth in his qualifying group (15th overall) and didn’t make the final.
WOMEN’S SHOT PUT: It was a USA podium sweep in the women’s shot put with Chase Ealey winning with a 19.51m throw. Maggie Ewen threw 19.32m for second. U.S. Olympic Trials champion Jessica Ramsey took third in 18.99. Olympic silver medalist Raven Saunders finished sixth with an 18.71m toss on her fifth attempt, which was the only one she managed to record. This was only Saunders’s second competition since undergoing surgery after Tokyo and in her first meet she failed to record a mark. The comeback continues!
MEN’S HIGH JUMP: World indoor champion Sanghyeok Woo made the most of his Diamond League debut and won with a 2.33m jump to improve his season’s best and world-leading mark. Mutaz Barshim finished second with a 2.30m leap. Not the best day for co-Olympic gold medalist Gianmarco Tamberi, who finished the day seventh in 2.20m. This was an event where the wind was clearly a factor, as several 2.30+ jumpers missed early attempts.
WOMEN’S TRIPLE JUMP: The women’s triple jump was super windy. The lowest wind reading was +2.2 m/s and got as high as +7.3 m/s. Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts, the 2019 world championship silver medalist, beat out Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk with a 14.82m jump.
MEN’S STEEPLECHASE: The meet closed out with Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali just barely beating out Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma by .01 seconds in 8:09.66 for a new world-leading time in the men’s 3000m steeplechase, a fitting rematch between the gold and silver medalists from Tokyo. Hillary Bor finished fourth in 8:17.82, which is the fastest time of the year by an American. It was a messy race as there were several falls and El Bakkali held up a bloody hand to the camera after the finish line, possibly sustained from contact with a competitor’s spike.