Thompson, Miller-Uibo and Crouser impress at blockbuster Rabat Diamond League, by Daryl Hammond


IMG_2157.JPGAn enthused crowd in Rabat, photo by Daryl Hammond

photo6005847212212464217.jpgShaunae Miller-Uibo takes the 400m in relaxed 49.80, photo by Daryl Hammond

So, @RunBlogRun can not be everywhere. While we are at home before the Worlds, after our quick tour of Paris, Lausanne and London, we were fortunate to by Daryl Hammond write for us in Rabat, Morocco.

Here's Daryl's feature on the first Diamond League meeting in Africa.

Elaine Thompson, Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Ryan Crouser all impressed in a blockbuster Diamond League in Rabat, complete with live music and fireworks and more.

photo6005847212212464166.jpgGiamberto Tamberi cleared 2.27m, as he returns to fitness, photo by Daryl Hammond

Action on the track still proved the main attraction as most stars lived up to the billing, including Olympic Champion Thompson, and it seemed business as usual as she romped to a 14th straight 100m in a Meeting Record 10.87.

"My races are going fine," insisted Thompson. "I'm in the shape that I want to be in an looking forward to the London World Championships."

Caster Semenya opted to compete over 400m which saw her go head-to-head with Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

photo6005847212212464217.jpgShaunae Miller-Uibo takes the 400m in relaxed 49.80, photo by Daryl Hammond

Billed as the battle between Olympic Champions, The Bahamian showed her pedigree, jogging to a meeting record of 49.80 to finish a sizeable distance ahead of Natasha Hastings Quanera Hayes, while Semenya finished a 'humbling' seventh.

O'Dayne Richards bettered his own Jamaican record with a hefty throw of 21.96 in the men's shot but could not put a chink in the armour of the seemingly unbeatable Ryan Crouser. Again he threw over 22 metres as he made it three meeting records & three Diamond League wins this season.

"I am really happy with my result today," beamed Crouser.

"I am loading now with the world Championships to come and I surprised myself today. I concentrated on a nice technique today and I wanted to simulate a championship competition. I think I can throw further in the next few weeks."

Racing in the sizzling heat of the Moroccan sun, Andre De Grasse admitted the weather may have affected him, despite breaking the meeting record over 200m with 20.03.

"It was a good race and a good performance."

"This is a race to tune for the World Championships and it looked pretty well, even if I'm, not used to the hot weather here."

Work to do for De Grasse, but Warren Weir too, who ran 20.48 and could only muster seventh place.

Another Jamaican star Yohan Blake didn't make it to the blocks, and Chijindu Ujah shone the brightest in his absence with another sub-10 clocking in the men's 100m to further justify his inclusion in the Great Britain team for the World Championships next month.

He set a meeting record 9.98 to beat Ben Youssef Meite in the non-Diamond League event.

While some stars shone, others flickered. Rio Olympic champion Thiago Braz looked well off his best, failing at his opening height of 5.40m in the Pole Vault

While Thiago's feet barely left the ground, and Shawn Barber could only muster 5.60m, Pawel Wojchichowski flew over 5.85m to secure only his second Diamond League win.

Elsewhere Conseslus Kipruto failed to finish in the 3000m Steeplchase to pile on more misery after a start stop season.

Gianmarco Tamberi showed promising signs of recovery as he continues to battle back from his dogged injury problems, jumping 2.27m but it wasn't enough to clinch victory as Andriy Protsenko squeezed over 2.29m to take the win.

Lapping up the adulation of the engaged Rabat audience, Tamberi seemed pleased just to be competing.

"I am so glad to be here. My performance was not that good as I got back from two bad injuries. The weather was very warm, unlike last year. The crowd was amazing, I love it so much."

Meeting records tumbled left and right on the track and for the most part the stars of athletics put on a decent show for the Moroccan crowd.

But they craved homegrown success.

Angelica Chicocha broke Moroccan hearts early as she pipped home favourite Rababe Arafi to the line in the 1500m

Then Yahya Berrabah impressed in the long jump as he beat Godfrey Mokoena to bronze in a topsy turvy competition which saw Rushwal Samaai better Jarrion Lawson by only 2 centimetres with an 8.35m jump.

As the sun began to set in Rabat, Soufiane El Bakkali turned up temperature with a sizzling 3000m Steeplechase which saw him smash is personal best and win by over five seconds. He crossed the line to deafening support as they got their win.

photo6005847212212464220.jpgAbdelaati Iguider won the 3000m, to the delight of Morocco! photo by Daryl Hammond

They didn't have to wait long for another as another Moroccan dominated over 3000m, this time Abdelaati Iguider.

"The result was very surprising because everyone thought my level was not that good," he said.

"I made my best for my people. They support me and I am very thankful."

IMG_2039.JPGEntertainment for the fans in Rabat, photo by Daryl Hammond

No doubt he was spurred on by such a stong home support. No matter where you were in the stadium, if a Moroccan was doing well you would know about it. A raucous atmosphere for a rousing night of athletics.

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required