The Diamond League season is one of my favorite parts of the season. I was fortunate to visit most of the meets in 2014 and 2015. In this second part of the fine series on the IAAF.org site by Mike Rowbottom, we learn about the highs and lows of performance in the 2016 season, before and after the Rio Olympic Games.
Enjoy the read, and remember, that the 2017 Diamond League season is only a mere four months off!
The second of our two-part look back at the IAAF Diamond League in 2016. Below, some of the highlights of the latter half of the series, including the finals in Zurich and Brussels.
STOCKHOLM - 16 JUNE
The Olympic aspirations of David Rudisha, the 2012 Olympic 800m champion, received an unexpected jolt on a rainswept evening in the 1912 Olympic Stadium as he could only finish fourth, clocking 1:45.69 in a race won by fellow Kenyan Ferguson Rotich in 1:45.07.
Sweden's 2006 European 100m hurdles champion Susanna Kallur, back in competitive action for the first time in six injury-filled years, finished fifth in 13.00 in a race won by Kendra Harrison of the United States in 12.66.
"It feels like I have been running a very long marathon for the past few years and this was just like the last 100th of a second and the absolute best part," said the 35-year-old home athlete.
Five-time world long jump champion Brittney Reese was beaten by Serbia's European indoor champion Ivana Spanovic, who managed 6.90m to the 2012 Olympic champion's 6.88m.
A best of 68.32m earned Croatia's Sandra Perkovic a fourth consecutive IAAF Diamond League discus win.
Ethiopia provided the first six finishers in the men's 5000m, with 2011 world 10,000m champion Ibrahim Jeilan winning in 13:03.22 from world indoor 3000m champion Yomif Kejelcha, who recorded 13:03.66.
Four efforts beyond 21 metres, the best of them 21.13m, earned New Zealand's Tom Walsh victory in the men's shot put.
MONACO - 15 JULY
Gianmarco Tamberi set an Italian high jump record of 2.39m before being taken to hospital with a serious ankle injury.
The exuberant 24-year-old, who a week earlier had added the European title to his world indoor version, equalled his personal best with a first time clearance at 2.37m matched only by 2013 world champion Bogdan Bondarenko, for whom it was a season's best.
The Ukrainian could go no further, but Tamberi cleared 2.39m with his third attempt before injuring himself in a second attempt at 2.41m, crashing through the bar and rolling off the side of the mat - and out of the Olympics.
South Africa's 2009 world champion Caster Semenya won her 800m in 1:55.33 - a national record, an IAAF Diamond League record, a meeting record and the fastest time run in 2016. Burundi's world indoor champion Francine Niyonsaba set a national record of 1:56.24 in second place.
Kenya's Ronald Kwemoi was a surprise winner of the 1500m in 3:30.29 ahead of Britain's Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah, fifth in 3:31.74, and, in sixth place, compatriot and multiple world champion Asbel Kiprop (3:32.03).
Dafne Schippers, who had retained her European 100m title a week earlier in 10.90, won here in 10.94.
Hellen Obiri won the 3000m in 8:24.27, the second-fastest 3000m of the season behind the 8:23.11 run by Ethiopia's world 5000m champion Almaz Ayana.
Caterine Ibarguen, whose winning run of 34 meetings since the London 2012 Olympics was ended at the previous month's Birmingham IAAF Diamond League meeting, was back on the gold standard with 14.96m in the triple jump.
Valerie Adams took the Diamond Race lead in the women's shot with a winning effort of 20.05m to beat Germany's world champion Christina Schwanitz. It was the double Olympic champion's best throw since undergoing shoulder and elbow surgery in September 2014.
LONDON - 22-23 JULY
Kendra Harrison's world 100m hurdles record of 12.20, beating the 1988 mark of 12.21 set by Bulgaria's Yordanka Donkova, put even Usain Bolt's 19.89 200m into the shade on the first of two days of competition in the London 2012 stadium.
Two months after becoming the second fastest women's high hurdler in history with 12.24 at the Eugene IAAF Diamond League meeting, and two weeks after failing to finish in the top three at the US Olympic Trials, the 24-year-old from Tennessee produced one of the great track performances in front of more than 40,000 fans.
After Harrison, who had won her heat in 12.40, crossed the line five metres clear of a world-class field, the time which flashed up was only 12.58. But shortly afterwards the time was amended to the world record mark and the winner sank to her knees in tears. Harrison had dipped so low at the line that she had run beneath the beam and the trackside clock initially recorded the uncorrected time of second-placed Brianna Rollins, later credited with 12.57.
Bolt demonstrated his Olympic fitness following a three-week lay-off with his first 200m of the season - and his last race before the Rio Olympics.
A front-running effort from Laura Muir in the 1500m earned victory in a British record of 3:57.49. The 23-year-old veterinary student at Glasgow University eclipsed the time set by Kelly Holmes in winning at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
World and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor indicated his readiness for a Rio defence as he won in 17.78m to top the 2016 world list.
Britain's Mo Farah also went top of the season's world list with a 5000m win in 12:59.29.
World 200m champion Dafne Schippers won in 22.13, but 2012 Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, still seeking top form after a toe injury, could only manage third place in the 100m with 11.06.
A stadium record discus throw of 69.94m earned Croatia's Sandra Perkovic a fifth straight IAAF Diamond League win and an almost unassailable Diamond Race lead.
LAUSANNE - 25 AUGUST
World 100m hurdles record-holder Kendra Harrison offered evidence of what Rio missed as she won in 12.42 - 0.06 faster than fellow US hurdler Brianna Rollins's Olympic winning time little more than a week earlier.
Jamaica's Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson won at the shorter sprint in 10.78, the equal third best time of the year.
A meeting pole vault record of 5.92m by Olympic bronze medallist Sam Kendricks earned victory over Olympic silver medallist Renaud Lavillenie, who could only manage 5.72m. But the Frenchman still extended his Diamond Race lead to 18 points.
A final effort of 19.94m in the women's shot put enabled New Zealand's 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Valerie Adams to reverse what happened to her in Rio when a late effort from Michelle Carter of the US earned gold.
Ayanleh Souleiman became the fifth-fastest 1000m performer of all time with an IAAF Diamond League record of 2:13.49.
And 32-year-old Dutch sprinter Churandy Martina won the 200m in a personal best of 19.81.
PARIS - 27 AUGUST
Bahrain's Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Ruth Jebet ran a world record of 8:52.78, taking more than six seconds off the mark set by Russia's Gulnara Galkina at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia contributed a second world record to the meeting as he set a world U20 mark of 7:28.19 for the 3000m.
Other stellar contributions came from Britain's Laura Muir, who lowered her British 1500m record to 3:55.22 in defeating Kenya's Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon, and New Zealand's Tom Walsh, who twice set area records in the men's shot put, winning with a final round best and meeting record of 22.00m.
Jebet - who had twice come close to Galkina's mark of 8:58.81 in clocking 8:59.97 in Eugene three months earlier and then 8:59.75 in Rio - was leading after 2000m and finished 30 metres clear of Kenya's world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, whose second-place time of 9:01.96 was the sixth best ever.
Muir's time topped the 2016 world listings and was a meeting record.
Walsh, the Olympic bronze medallist, beat Olympic gold medallist Ryan Crouser by one centimetre.
World 100m hurdles record-holder Kendra Harrison moved closer to her ambition of winning the Diamond Race as she won in 12.44.
Croatia's Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic earned a sixth straight IAAF Diamond League win with a best of 67.62m.
ZURICH - 1 SEPTEMBER (FIRST FINAL)
The first of the two IAAF Diamond League finals saw 16 of the 32 Diamond Race champions confirmed - with the accompanying perk of a cheque for US $40,000, a Diamond Trophy and a possible wild card entry for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Jamaica's Olympic 100m and 200m champion Elaine Thompson repeated her Olympic 200m victory over world champion Dafne Schippers - but the Dutchwoman secured the overall Diamond Race title.
Thompson clocked 21.85, an IAAF Diamond League record, with Schippers finishing just 0.01 behind her in a season's best.
The women's 1500m saw Britain's Laura Muir secure the Diamond Race honours. Second place in 3:57.85 - behind Shannon Rowbury's 3:57.78 - saw the Glasgow University student reach 40 points to overhaul Kenya's Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon, left on 36 points after finishing seventh.
As usual, double points were on offer in the Zurich and Brussels finales to the IAAF Diamond League season, and a 20-point win bonus thanks to an effort of 87.28m earned the Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch a shock Diamond Race victory in the men's javelin.
Tom Walsh, New Zealand's Olympic shot put bronze medallist, improved his area record to 22.20m to win a closely contested Diamond Race ahead of Olympic silver medallist and world champion Joe Kovacs, who finished 16 points adrift after a third-place finish with 21.20m.
Olympic pole vault silver medallist Renaud Lavillenie suffered his second IAAF Diamond League defeat to Sam Kendricks in the space of a week, losing on countback after a 5.90m clearance, but easily maintained his record as the only athlete to have won the Diamond Race trophy in their event on all seven occasions since the competition began in 2010.
Kendra Harrison - who failed to qualify in the US Olympic Trials and then lowered the women's world 100m hurdles record to 12.20 - secured her Diamond Race with a win (in 12.63), as did Spain's Olympic high jump champion Ruth Beitia (1.96m), Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion and world record-holder Ruth Jebet of Bahrain (meeting record of 9:07.00) and 400m hurdler Kerron Clement of the United States (48.72).
Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba, who had finished in that order all season long in the women's 800m, did so again, the South African earning the Diamond Trophy in 1:56.44 to the Burundian's 1:56.76.
The men's 100m Diamond Race was wide open, and Jamaica's former world record holder Asafa Powell won in 9.94sec to total 26 points, two more than third-placed Ben Youssef Meite of the Ivory Coast.
Serbia's Ivana Spanovic finished more than 30 points ahead in the overall women's long jump standings after recording 6.93m to finish two centimetres behind winner Brittney Reese, the 2012 Olympic champion.
A winning discus throw of 68.44m enabled Croatia's Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic to complete the formality of a fifth consecutive Diamond Trophy.
Final victories earned Diamond Race honours for Christian Taylor in the men's triple jump (a meeting record of 17.80m), Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia in the men's 5000m (13:14.82) and LaShawn Merritt in the men's 400m (44.64).
BRUSSELS - 9 SEPTEMBER (SECOND FINAL)
Pole vaulter Sandi Morris produced the performance of the night at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels in becoming only the second woman in history after Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva to clear five metres outdoors.
Morris, Olympic silver medallist on countback in Rio behind Greece's Ekaterini Stefanidi after both cleared 4.85m, had no chance of depriving her rival of the season's Diamond Trophy. But after securing victory, the 24-year-old from Illinois went on to achieve 5.00m at the second attempt.
The US vaulter's area, meeting and IAAF Diamond League record took its place behind the top five vaults by Russia's double Olympic champion, whose world record of 5.06m was set in 2009.
Jamaica's Olympic champion at 100m and 200m, Elaine Thompson, completed an IAAF Diamond League double as she won the overall 100m honours with victory in 10.72, equalling the meeting record, ahead of the Dutch world 200m champion Dafne Schippers, second in 10.97.
Almaz Ayana, Olympic champion and world record-holder at 10,000m, finished more than seven seconds adrift of her world 5000m record target but still won comfortably in 14:18.89 to confirm overall Diamond Race victory.
Ukraine's 2013 world champion Bogdan Bondarenko led the men's high jump standings coming into Brussels but could only manage 2.20m for eighth place.
Erik Kynard, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist from the United States, earned overall victory with a countback win after he and his other two potential rivals, Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim and Britain's Robbie Grabarz, had cleared 2.32m.
Kenya's Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto finished 10 seconds adrift in his world record attempt, but a win in 8:03.74 confirmed the 21-year-old's Diamond Race victory.
Second place with 19.57m earned New Zealand's Valerie Adams her fifth shot put Diamond Race victory. US Olympic champion Michelle Carter won with 19.98m.
Fourth place in 1:44.59 earned Kenya's Ferguson Rotich the season's 800m prize in a race won by Poland's Adam Kszczot in 1:44.36. Third place did the trick for Asbel Kiprop in the 1500m (3:31.87).
Sixth place in the men's 200m in 20.23 secured the Diamond Trophy for Alonso Edward of Panama.
Stephenie Ann McPherson of Jamaica won the Diamond Race in the women's 400m, finishing third in 50.51 as South Africa's Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya won in a personal best of 50.40.
Orlando Ortega, Spain's Olympic 110m hurdles silver medallist, confirmed his Diamond Race victory as he won in 13.08.
A leap of 14.66m earned Colombia's Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen her fourth overall Diamond Race.
Madara Palameika, virtually certain of Diamond Trophy success in the women's javelin, won with a Latvian record of 66.18m.
Poland's Olympic discus silver medallist Piotr Malachowski secured his Diamond Race win, finishing second with 65.27m.
Cassandra Tate of the US took the overall women's 400m hurdles prize, winning in a season's best of 54.47 as previous Diamond Race leader Eilidh Doyle finished fifth in 55.26.
A personal best long jump of 8.17m earned Fabrice Lapierre of Australia second place and overall victory.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF
To see part 2 of this fine piece by Mike in its original form, please go to here: https://www.iaaf.org/news/news/2016-iaaf-diamond-league-review-zurich-brusse