ATHLETICS: Warholm pulls up, Thompson 10.83, El Bakkali 7:58.28 in Rabat Diamond League; McLaughlin screams 51.61 400H in Nashville!!

Double Olympic gold medalist and world-record setter Sydney McLaughlin (USA) (Photo: Tim Healy for TrackTown USA)

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The fourth stop on the Wanda Diamond League circuit was the Meeting Mohammed VI in Rabat (MAR) – begun in 2008 – on Sunday, with the focus on the seasonal debut of Olympic 400 m hurdles star Karsten Warholm of Norway.

The world-record holder, running from his favored lane seven, got off well and led over the first hurdle and was accelerating when he shot up in his lane and grabbed his right hamstring. He was done, ending a streak of 18 straight finals wins from May 2019 to September of 2021.

Inside him in lane six was American Khallifah Rosser, who has been running strongly this season, and no. 3 on the world list at 48.10. He powered into the lead on the turn and came into the straight with a lead he continued to extend to the finish in 48.25, ahead of Rasmus Magi (EST: 48.73). Wow.

The second feature was Jamaican Olympic sprint superstar Elaine Thompson-Herah, who was a clear winner in the women’s 100 m, running her no. 2 time in 2022 in 10.83 (+0.3 m/s), just 4/100ths behind her Pre Classic time last week. She ran away from Marie-Josee Ta Lou (CIV: 11.04) and Natasha Morrison (JAM: 11.22) in mid-race and was not challenged.

Britain’s Jake Wightman made a statement in the men’s 1,500 m, taking the lead with 200 m to go and powered away from the field to win in an impressive 3:32.62, no. 2 in the world for 2022! He zoomed past countryman Jake Heyward, who held on for second (3:33.54) and appeared to have more in the tank if he needed it. Morocco’s Abdellatif Sadiki was left standing at the start and then had to make up 50 m, but he not only got back in the race, but sprinted down the home straight to get third in an amazing 3:33.93.

The final event was the men’s Steeple, saluting Olympic champ Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR), with Tokyo silver winner Lamecha Girma (ETH) and bronze medalist Benjamin Kigen (KEN) also in the race. It was Girma and El Bakkali 1-2 after 2,000 m and it became a two-man race to the finish, with Ethiopia’s Hailemariyam Tegegn the closest pursuer.

Girma led with two laps to go and a lap to go, with El Bakkali close, but then the Moroccan star blew by with 250 m to go and ran to the line in a world-leading 7:58.28, with Girma a game second in 7:59.24, and Tegegn third in a lifetime best 8:06.29. The home crowd went wild, with El Bakkali falling, face-down on the track in exhaustion. Worth noting: two-time Olympic champ Conseslus Kipruto (KEN) was fourth in 8:12.47 (his fastest since 2019) and American Hillary Bor finished sixth in 8:13.12.

American half-lap star Kenny Bednarek, the Tokyo silver medalist, won the 200 m with a strong turn, in 20.21 (+2.0), ahead of South Africa’s Luxolo Adams (20.35).

The men’s 800 m was headlined by the Tokyo gold and silver medalists, Kenyans Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich, but it was Collins Kipruto of Kenya who had the lead going down the final backstraight. But he was challenged by 17-year-old Emmanuel Wanyonyi (KEN) on the turn and than Wanyonyi sprinted to the lead on the straight and won in 1:45.47. London 2012 silver medalist Nigel Amos (BOT) won a duel for second over the final 50 m with France’s Gabriel Tual, 1:45.66-1:45.71. Kipruto was fourth (1:46.29).

Greece’s Tokyo Olympic champ Miltiadis Tentoglou won the men’s long jump with his 8.27 m (27-1 3/4) in the fourth round, ahead of Swiss decathlete – and long jump world leader – Simon Ehammer (8.13 m/26-8 1/4). American JuVaughn Harrison finished seventh, at 7.64 m (25-0 3/4).

The men’s discus was another win for world leader Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia, who reached 69.68 m (228-7) in the final round, after already leading at 69.42 m (227-9). Olympic champ Daniel Stahl (SWE) managed 67.16 m (220-4) for second and Matthew Denny (AUS) got a lifetime best of 67.07 m (220-0) for third.

In the women’s 400 m, world leader and Olympic silver winner Marileidy Paulino (DOM) put down the pedal at the 200 m mark and passed Stephenie Ann McPherson (JAM) for the lead coming into the straight and won in 50.10. Sada Williams (BAR) passed McPherson in the final 60 m for second, 50.74-51.37. The non-Diamond League 800 m was won by Mary Moraa (KEN) in 1:58.93.

The women’s 1,500 m came down to a four-way fight with Ethiopians Axumawit Embaye, Freweyni Hailu and Hirut Meshesha, plus Australia’s Georgia Griffith. It was Meshesha who took charge on the third lap, taking a 7 m lead into the bell, with Embaye leading Hailu. No one could touch the leader, but Hailu passed Embaye on the turn and made a charge for the lead on the home straight. Meshesha had the best finish and crossed in 3:57.30, no. 3 this season, ahead of Hailu at 3:58.18 (no. 4) and Embaye in 3:58.80 (no. 6) and Griffith in a lifetime best of 4:00.16.

Kenyans Gloria Kite and Mercy Cherono led the women’s 3,000 m with two laps to go, with Medina Eisa (ETH) close, but then Britain’s Amy-Eloise Markovc moved up ahead of Cherono and into second, among a group of six at the bell. Markovc took the lead on the backstraight and led around the final turn, but Cherono surged on the final straight and won in 8:40.29, to 8:40.32 for Markovc and 8:41.42 for Eisa.

Ukraine went 1-2 in the women’s high jump, with Olympic silver winner Yaroslava Mahuchikh winning at 1.96 m (6-5), ahead of Iryna Gerashchenko (1.93 m/6-3). The women’s vault was won by World Indoor Champion Sandi Morris of the U.S., who cleared 4.65 m (15-3) and beat Nina Kennedy (AUS) on misses. Olympic champ Katie Nageotte (USA) missed all three tries at the opening height of 4.30 m (14-1 1/4).

Thea LaFord of Dominica, fourth in the World Indoors in March, won the women’s triple jump at 14.46 m (47-5 1/4) in the fifth round, just getting past Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts (14.43 m/47-4 1/4) and Neja Filipic (SLO: 14.42 m/47-3 3/4).

Also on Sunday was the annual Memorial Janusz Kusocinski in Chorzow (POL), celebrating the winner of the 1932 Olympic 10,000 m in Los Angeles who was imprisoned and executed by the Nazis during World War II.

Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki, the Tokyo Olympic champion, claimed a world-leading 81.58 m (267-8) to win the men’s hammer, ahead of a lifetime best by France’s Quentin Bigot (80.55 m/264-3).

On the track, the Poles were strong as well.

Poland’s Patryk Dobek moved to no. 7 on the year list in the men’s 800 m, winning in 1:44.49, just ahead of Benjamin Robert (FRA: 1:44.53, no. 8) and Alvaro de Arriba (ESP: 1:44.85). In the men’s 400 m, Alexander Ogando (DOM) won in a lifetime best of 44.68, no. 12 on the season.

Polish sprint star Ewa Swoboda won the women’s 100 m in a season’s best of 11.08 (-0.4), and countrywoman Natalia Kaczmarek won the women’s 400 m over American  icon Allyson Felix, 50.40-50.71.

Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji, 20, won the women’s 800 m in a speedy 1:58.28, a lifetime best, making her the no. 4 performer in 2022. She edged Britain’s Jemma Reekie (1:58.44) and Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui (1:58.98).

World 100 m hurdles leader Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (PUR) continued to star, winning at 12.43 into a headwind of 1.4 m/s! She was way ahead of runner-up Pia Skrzyszowska (POL: 12.73); American Jade Barber was fourth (12.93).

The men’s shot was another win for New Zealand’s 2017 World Champion Tom Walsh over 2015 and 2019 world champ Joe Kovacs of the U.S., 22.31 m (73-2 1/2) to 22.00 m (72-2 1/4). American Chris Nilsen got a second win in Poland in three days in the men’s vault at 5.92 m (19-5), ahead of 2012 Olympic gold medalist Renaud Lavillenie (FRA: 5.81 m/19-0 3/4).

In Nashville was the Music City Track Carnival, with strong fields and a world leader for Olympic 400 m hurdles gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin.

She stormed to an almost unbelievable 51.61 victory, the no. 3 performance in history behind her 51.46 win in Tokyo and Dalilah Muhammad’s second in 51.58! Andrenette Knight (JAM) was well back in second in 53.39, ahead of Gianna Woodruff (PUR: 54.63).

This was McLaughlin’s second race of the year, after a 12.75 win in the 100 m hurdles at the Penn Relays. Amazing; what’s next?

American sprinter Marybeth Sant Price, who showed so much promise during the indoor season, set a lifetime best of 10.95 in the heats (+1.4 m/s), but it was Tamari Davis of the U.S. who won the final, getting a personal best of 10.91 (+0.8), ahead of Price, in 10.96 and, veteran Morolake Akinosun (11.00) in third.

Brittany Brown, the 2019 Worlds silver medalist, won the women’s 200 m in 21.99 (+0.5), way ahead of Candace Hill (22.60). Alaysha Johnson of the U.S. had another solid win in the women’s 100 m hurdles in 12.59 (-0.6); veteran track and bobsleigh star Lolo Jones was fifth in 13.73.

In the men’s 200 m, Josephus Lyles won and equaled his lifetime best of 20.03 (0.1), while 2019 Pan Am Games silver winner Freddie Crittenden beat World Indoors bronze medalist Jarret Eaton in the men’s 110 m hurdles, 13.31-13.40 (+1.5).

What a weekend!

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