Alex Mills sent me this piece from Brussels. I looked at it and said, “You know, Alex is right on this one.”
Alex has been writing for us for over a year now. He survived Beijing, then Zurich and now, Brussels. I hope he gets some sleep soon.
Nice piece, Alex.
This season’s Diamond League series may have seemed very long, but it has also been very special.
Though as the stage for the world’s best athletics talent you wouldn’t expect anything less right?
Even so, despite seeing many breathtaking examples of physical endurance and skill, meet after meet, there were some performances and events that just blew my mind. Either because of the sheer brilliance of an individual effort or the depth of the competition.
Here are my three Diamond League events that kept everyone talking:
Triple Jump men:
The finale may not have quite lived up to expectation but this event has been amazing since day one, all the way back in Doha, when Pedro Pablo Pichardo and Christian Taylor ripped up the all-time lists to throw down the gauntlet for 2015 as they both recorded the first 18m+ jumps of their career and in Diamond League history.
On that particular evening it was the Cuban Pichardo who took the victory by just two centimetres and it was he who was seemingly taking command of the DL race, winning three of the first four competitions. With Taylor sneaking in with a victory in Birmingham in between. All three victories coming in the absence of the other athlete, making the anticipation of their re-match all the more exciting.
When it came it did not disappoint, as Taylor flew out past 18m once more, improving his personal best to 18.06m, with Pichardo just 7cm behind. That was to be the start of a winning streak that clawed him all the way home to a fourth successive Diamond League trophy, via another 2cm victory in Monaco and that sensational world championship winning performance in Beijing.
As with any rivalry, it certainly takes two to tangle and so while Taylor comes away from 2015 with the big gongs, credit should most certainly go to the Cuban, without whom this brilliant face-off would never have become so insane.
Same again next year please boys!
Eventually the women’s 100 metre hurdles had a sense of same old, as Diamond League queen Dawn Harper-Nelson ended up claiming her fourth successive $40,000 jackpot. Yet as whole it was certainly nothing like that, except for the fact America dominated once more.
As we all know the country has insane depth in the hurdles but this year has been something else! In the Diamond League at least. In one competition they filled the first five spots in the race and it wasn’t even the nations strongest athletes.
In a crazy series of events that saw three women tied for the lead going into the final round of competition, no athlete was able to record consecutive victories leading to the utmost uncertainty with one meet to go.
First Jasmin Stowers announced herself on the world stage by running a stunning 12.35 in Doha to take her first Diamond League victory, then Sharika Nelvis pulled herself into inter and intra national contention by earning her maiden win in Rome and before Harper-Nelson snatched victory in Birmingham.
Though not in the same order, the trio went onto follow up their victories on one more occasion each and by virtue of all three having also finished runner-up once, there was literally nothing to separate them heading into the finale.
It was only appropriate that they should then go one-two-three in the decisive contest. With the old master, Harper-Nelson, who last year snatched the trophy away from Queen Harrison in the final race of the season, getting the decisive win once more, just edging out Nelvis 12.63-12.65.
High Jump men:
If anything, this event was brilliant because in terms of the quality it actually wasn’t.
Sure we had Mutaz Essa Barshim’s 2.38m in Shanghai and 2.41m in Eugene but for those to be the two best jumps of the season, after all that came in 2014, is pretty disappointing.
Even so that does not mean the competition wasn’t ace! After all who doesn’t love seeing athletes you’ve barely heard of coming through to take their maiden Diamond League victory to instantly announce themselves on the world stage. As was the case with four of the five event winners this year.
After Barshim began to struggle post-Prefontaine Classic it wasn’t world or Olympic champions Bohdan Bondarenko, Ivan Ukhov or Derek Druoin who stepped in, but Guowei Zhang, Jacorian Duffield, Daniil Tsyplakov and Marco Fassinotti all novices who defied the odds to claim those all important four DL points.
Add into the mix MR. Half Beard Gianmarco Tamberi and Donald Thomas of the Bahamas, who also featured this year and it makes you believe that we could have another funny looking Olympic podium at Rio 2016.