The Van Damme Memorial has seen better days, Stuart Weir writes on Brussels DL


Mother Nature reminded the world of athletics who is in charge in Brussels. With a huge power outage, after a strong rain, the meet was cold and the lack of lighting and power made the final of the Diamond League a huge challege. Here is Stuart Weir's first of three pieces on the final outdoor DL of the season.

Beautiful evening here in #Brussels 👌 #sunset #athletics #AGMemorialVanDamme #BrusselsDL

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The Van Damme Memorial has had better days! The weather was a challenge and there was a power failure in the area. Aries Merritt, who set his world record here some years ago said: "Today it was really cold! It's not an excuse, because it´s a shame for everybody, just the fact that it was difficult for my muscles" adding that when he ran the world record, conditions had been perfect.

Christian Taylor echoed the sentiment winning the triple jump: "Thanks to the tiger balm I could win this final. It was getting colder and colder after every jump, but I put tiger balm on my legs time and time again. And it worked".

Ivana Spanovic spoke for the long-jumpers: "I tried to give it all at my 1st attempt, but it was too cold". Having the long jump in two parts either side of the opening ceremony probably seemed a good idea at the time. Making jumpers wait outside in the cold for 15 minutes was the result.

The high-jumpers were none too pleased either. Mariya Lasitskene said: "I´m not fully satisfied with the 2m02. But it was extremely cold for a high jump competition"

Then there was a power failure in the area. Only the stadium's emergency power supply worked. In the media area there was no power, no WiFi and no lights. Security checked accreditation with a flashlight. The results computer system was down. Journalists were heard asking athletes who had won. Information for spectators on field events was sketchy.

Despite all that there were some stellar performances.

  • Hellen Obiri (Kenya) added the Diamond League 5000m to her London 2017 title.
  • Elaine Thompson (Jamaica) won the 100 metres, some consolation for being out of the medals in London.
  • World Champion, Katerina Stefanidi (Greece) won the Pole Vault with 4.85.
  • Faith Kipyegon (Kenya) is now Olympic Champion, World Champion and Diamond League Champion in 1500m
  • Ivana Spanovic (Serbia) beat Olympic Champion, Tianna Bartoletta, and World Champion, Brittney Reese, to win a long jump competition in which the top five were separated by 9 centimetres.
  • Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas) won the 400 to add to the 200 Diamond League title she won last week in Zurich

The new format, with everyone starting equal and no points carried forward added to the excitement and yielded different results. Christian Taylor, who on last year's system would have won on points accumulated, won anyhow. Darrell Hill, on the other hand, qualified for the shot put final with a lot less points than some of his competitors but produced the longest distance with his final throw to walk away with the money.

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