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The penultimate Diamond League meet of 2022 was worth the wait, as Friday’s Memorial Van Damme was one of the best of the season, producing world-leading marks in three events:
● Men/5,000 m: 12:45.71, Jacob Krop (KEN)
● Women/High Jump: 2.05 m (6-8 3/4), Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR)
● Women/Javelin: 68.11 m (223-5), Kara Winger (USA)
For American fans, two national records were set, first by Winger and then by Grant Fisher, runner-up in the men’s 5,000 m in 12:46.96!
The biggest surprise had to be Winger, 36, who said she will retire at the end of the season and won a stunning World Championships silver medal in Eugene in July on her final throw. In Brussels, she led the competition heading into the final round, at 63.82 m (209-4), then got hold of her sixth-round throw that finally landed at 68.11 m (223-5); she was celebrating while it was still in the air!
That shattered Maggie Malone’s U.S. mark of 67.40 m (221-1) from 2021 and Winger was celebrating with her husband Russ in the stands; she said afterwards that maybe she won’t retire:
“I feel so incredible my last personal best was twelve years ago in 2010 and I had two surgeries since then, but I felt really amazing this year. I was so consistent and with my husband as my coach and the best support system around me it has just been such a cool year of great decision-making for me and doing what is right for me. …
“It was the same this year in Eugene and now in Brussels. I felt very at home here. I’ll definitely return here. Just perfect conditions and fabulous women to compete with, a wonderful meeting overall. I just cannot believe it yet. I´m so happy.”
Winger is now the no. 12 thrower of all time; Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi was a distant second at 63.45 m (208-2).
There was a hot pace in the men’s 5,000 m from the beginning, with Kenya’s Worlds silver medalist Krop separating from a group of four on the final lap, with only Fisher giving chase. They were shoulder-to-shoulder off the turn, but Krop had more in the tank and his 12:45.71 win moves him to no. 6 on the all-time list. Fisher was game, but had to settle for second and shattering Bernard Lagat’s 12:53.60 mark from 2011. At 12:46.96, Fisher now ranks 12th all-time.
The top six all broke 13 minutes, with Nicholas Kipkorir (KEN) third in 12:50.97; Americans Woody Kincaid and Joe Klecker finished 12-13 in 13:13.90 and 13:15.17.
In the women’s high jump, Mahuchikh, 20, was the only one to clear 1.97 m (6-5 1/2), 2.02 m (6-7 1/2) and then a lifetime best and world-leading 2.05 m (6-8 3/4) in her second attempt. She had three good tries at a world-record 2.10 m (6-10 3/4), but failed to clear. It’s Mahuchikh’s second-highest jump ever, as she has cleared 2.06 m (6-9) indoors, in 2021.
And there were more shocks:
● Men/Vault: Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis came in with an undefeated season and 20 straight wins dating back to last year. But despite being way over the bar at 5.91 m (19-4 3/4), he came down on it three straight times and had to settle for second to E.J. Obiena (PHI), who cleared 5.91 m on his third try. American Chris Nilsen was third at 5.71 m (18-8 3/4).
● Women/100 m: Jamaica’s five-time World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce rocketed out of the blocks as usual, but was reeled in by teammate and World 200 m Champion Shericka Jackson in the final 10 m, 10.73-10.74 (wind: +0.6 m/s). That ended Fraser-Pryce’s undefeated season at six meets; Americans Aleia Hobbs, Sha’Carri Richardson and Tamara Clark went 4-5-6 in 10.91-10.93 and 11.03.
● Women/1,500 m: Surely, British star Laura Muir, the Commonwealth and European champ, was the one to beat, but it was Ethiopian Diribe Welteji who looked like the winner with 100 m to go when Ireland’s Ciara Mageean flew by and stormed to an unexpected win in a lifetime best and national record of 3:56.63, moving to no. 4 in 2022. Welteji was passed by countrywoman Freweyni Hailu on the straightaway, but Muir passed her for second at the line, 3:56.86 to 3:56.94.
American Heather MacLean was fifth with a lifetime best of 3:58.76, making her the no. 7 performer in American history. Elise Cranny was right behind in sixth in 3:59.61.
In the sprints, American Erriyon Knighton had to work hard on the straightaway to win the men’s 200 m in 20.07 into a 2.9 m/s headwind, well ahead of Alexander Ogando (DOM: 20.18). The men’s 400 hurdles was another triumph for World Champion Alison Dos Santos (BRA), winning in 47.54 ahead of American Khallifah Rosser (47.88). American C.J. Allen was third in 47.96, a lifetime best, but was disqualified for a trail-leg violation.
The women’s 400 m was a win for Dominican Fiordalize Cofil, who came on late to beat Sada Williams (BAR) with a lifetime best of 49.80 to 50.15. Olympic champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (PUR) overcame a strong start by American Keni Harrison and steamed to a quick 12.27 win (+0.1) in the 100 m hurdles, the equal-11th fastest time ever! American Tia Jones came up for second in a lifetime best of 12.38 (no 10 all-time U.S.) and Harrison was third in 12.40.
In the distances, World 1,500 m gold medalist Jake Wightman (GBR) continued his dream season with an impressive win in the men’s 800 m in a lifetime best of 1:43.65 – now no. 4 in 2022 – over Djamel Sedjati (ALG) and Olympic and World Champion Emmanuel Korir (KEN), both in 1:44.12. Kenya’s Jackline Chepkoech ran away with the women’s Steeple, winning in 9:02.43 – no. 5 on the season – with Werhuka Getachew (ETH: 9:03.44) second. Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs were eighth and 10th in 9:14.43 and 9:20.93.
Cuba’s World Indoor Champion in the men’s triple jump, Lazaro Martinez, got a big mark of 17.49 m (57-4 3/4) in the second round to win, with recovering American star Christian Taylor getting a seasonal best of 16.72 m (54-10 1/4) for fourth. Nigeria’s Ese Brume – the Worlds silver medalist – got her first Diamond League win of the year in the women’s long jump at 6.83 m (22-5), ahead of American Quanesha Burks (6.54 m/21-5 1/2).
Quite a meet, with a strong crowd in the King Badouin Stadium that was fully in tune with the field-eventers, especially. The Diamond League season will conclude with the Weltklasse in Zurich on 7-8 September next week.
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