2020 Doha Diamond League: the intro...

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qatar sport club.jpgQatar Sports Club, 25 September 2020, photo by Stuart Weir via BBC TV

qatar sports club 2.jpgQatar Sports Club, 25 September 2020, photo by Stuart Weir via BBC TV

My first visit to Doha, Qatar was in 2010 at the World Indoor Championships. I was at the Diamond league meetings in Doha from 2012 to 2018. I always enjoyed the meeting and the time in Qatar.

The meet always had challenges with getting a crowd. Each meet, they would have a music talent and discount tickets to the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Asian workers in Qatar. The crowd, always enthusiastic, would be especially loud in the distance events. Looking at pictures today, I was struck by the Covid 19 challenged stadium.

Doha intro

The Doha Diamond League took place almost exactly a year since the 2019 World Championships in the same city. Rather than the new Khalifa International Stadium which had been used for the world championships, the event was back in this traditional home, Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, also known as the Qatar sports club.

Having been postponed from its original April date, the organizers did well to put on a program of six men's and five women's events. My only regret is that COVID prevented me from being there in person. There were great races - see separate posts on men's middle distance and women's 800.

Elaine Thompson-Herah was in imperious form winning the 100m in 10.87, two hundredths of a second outside her own world lead. The 2016 double Olympic champion has run 10 times this year, the first eight being in Jamaica. Her two Diamond Leagues - Rome and Doha - were her last two and the fastest two performances. She will be sorry that the season is over!

On paper the men's 110m hurdles looked an exciting race with eight athletes competing. First Freddie Crittenden sustained an injury in warm up and withdrew. Then Paolo Dal Molin jumped the gun. Things went from bad to worse as one of the favorites, Wilhelm Belocian, also false-started. It almost seemed an anticlimax when Aaron Mallett (USA) won a race of five athletes in the excellent time of 13.15.

The women's 3000m looked like the Kenyan national championship with Kenyans taking the first five places. Hellen Obiri set a world lead of 8:22.54, with Agnes Tirop (second) and Beatrice Chepkoech (third), both in 8:22.92. The race had a pacemaker - Kenyan of course. Jessica Hull set a new Australian national record - one of two to be broken. (See separate post on Stewart McSweyn's 1500m record)

A year ago Sam Kendricks became world pole vault champion with Armand Duplantis clearing the same height but losing on count back. Fortunes were reversed this year. Duplantis, Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie all cleared the bar at 5.82 but no higher with Duplantis winning on countback.

Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk won the long jump in the new format with the first five jumps acting as a qualifying competition before the top three have one jump each, in reverse order with previous performances not carried forward. The new format is apparently more exciting for spectators - but of course there weren't any - provided the understands what is happening. On this occasion it was less unsatisfactory than sometimes as Bekh-Romanchuk jump further than anyone else, 6.91. Ese Brume was second with 6.68 with Khaddia Sagnia third with 6.55. Under the old regime, Sagnia's 6.85 in the second round would have given her second place.

The busiest athletes of the night were Cindy Ofili and Payton Chadwick who run in both the 100m hurdles and 100m flat, and Taliyah Brooks who did long jump as well as 100m hurdles. Perhaps there's a little known world athletics role that sprint hurdlers are supposed to do a second event.

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