ATHLETICS Panorama: Gong stars in Nanning, takes world lead away from Ealey

China's World Champion in the women's shot, Lijiao Gong (Photo: Wikipedia/Paalso - Paal Sorensen)

One of the shocks of the Shanghai Diamond League meet was American Chase Ealey’s victory in the women’s shot over reigning World Champion Lijiao Gong of China. But that was only round one.

At the new IAAF World Challenge meet in Nanning (CHN) on Tuesday, Gong was in better form, getting out to 19.84 m (65-1 1/4) in the third round to take the world lead from Ealey. That was the winning mark, but Gong also had a final throw of 19.77 m (64-10 1/2), the no. 2 throw in the world for 2019.

Ealey threw 19.21 m (63-0 1/4), the same as Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd, but finished third as Thomas-Dodd had a better back-up throw.

Another world leader came in the women’s 1,500 m, as Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, who barely lost to Rabab Arafi (MAR) in Shanghai, 4:01.15-4:01.25, posted the win in 3:59.97. She led a mass finish that had Axumawit Embaye (ETH) and Sifan Hassan (NED) at 4:00.17 and 4:00.53.

There were plenty of other highlights in Nanning:

Men/100 m: Michael Rodgers of the U.S. out-leaned Andre De Grasse (CAN) as both were timed in 10.09.

Men/800 m: Botswana’s Nijel Amos, the world leader at 1:44.29, posted the no. 3 time of 2019 with a tight win in 1:44.38 over Cornelius Tuwei (KEN), 1:44.91 and Jonathon Kitilit (KEN: 1:45.58).

Men/3,000 m Steeple: Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen moved up to no. 4 on the world list for thus year with an 8:08.94 victory, ahead of Abraham Kibiwot (KEN: 8:10.27) and Lawrence Kipsang (KEN: 8:11.26). American Stanley Kibenei was seventh in 8:15.94, the second-fastest U.s. mark in 2019.

Men/110 m Hurdles: Tight finish, with Orlando Ortega (ESP) just holding off Jamaica’s Omar McLeod, 13.27-13.28, with American Freddie Crittenden third in 13.37, beating Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov (also 13:37).

Men/Triple Jump: A U.S. sweep, with Christian Taylor coming back to win in the sixth round at 17.47 m (57-3 3/4), passing world leader Omar Craddock (17.42 m/57-2), with Donald Scott third at 17.03 m (55-10 1/2). Craddock had the lead at 17.40 m (57-1) from round two and after Taylor took the lead in the final round, Craddock had his best jump of the day, but ended up 5 cm short.

Women/200 m: Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson moved to no. 2 in the world for 2019, winning in 22.40 (+0.2 m/s), ahead of Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, who posted a lifetime best of 22.56.

Women/100 m hurdles: The U.S. went 1-2-3-4, with Brianna McNeal just holding off Nia Ali in a Rio 2016 repeat, this time with both timed in 12.78. Christina Clemons was third (12.79) and Queen Harrison was fourth (12.80).

Women/Hammer: China’s Zheng Wang reached 75.27 m (246-11) to win over DeAnna Price of the U.S. (74.21 (243-5) and Polish star Anita Wlodarczyk (73.64 m/241-7). Brooke Anderson of the U.S. was fourth (73.40 m/240-10).

Pretty good for a first meet in Nanning! The IAAF reported attendance of more than 12,000!

There are other world leaders to report:

Men/4×100 m: At the IAAF World Challenge meet in Osaka (JPN) last week, Japan ran 38.00 in the men’s 4×100 m, taking the world lead from Brazil’s 38.05 to win the World Relays.

Men/50 km Walk: French star Yohann Diniz routed the field in the European Walking Cup in Alytus (LTU) in 3:37:43 to take the yearly lead in that event.

Although not a world leader, Rio Olympic shot champ Ryan Crouser continues on fire, winning at the Tuscon Elite Classic in Arizona on the 18th, reaching 22.67 m (74-4 1/2), the equal-11th performance in history and no. 4 in U.S. history. Crouser now has the top eight throws of 2019, including his world-leading 22.74 m (74-7 1/2) on 20 April in Long Beach, California. Wow!

It’s important for athletes to focus on their goals and not get sidetracked along way. For Christian Coleman, out-leaned at the finish of the Shanghai Diamond League 100 m by fellow American Noah Lyles – both in 9.86 – he wanted to be sure that everyone kept this in mind, tweeting:

He’s right: the season is just getting going and it looks like Coleman and Lyles are going to be quite the show, all the way to Doha!