In his third column on the Doha Diamond League opener, Stuart Weir wrote about the Winners and Losers. Stuart just returned to his home in Oxford, England, and wrote 3 more columns for us!
Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, photo via Stuart Weir
Keni Harrison, 2022 Doha DL, photo by Diamond League AG
Abel Kipsang, 2022 Doha DL, photo by Diamond League AG
Winners and losers
There was a great program of track and field in the Doha Diamond League. Inevitably there were winners and losers! There were favorites who showed why they are regarded as the best in the world and others who did not do what they are capable of. My old friend, Kriss Akabusi, used to say that they don’t give out any medals in May, so why would he want to be at his best in May? My point is that we should not read too much into the first race of the Diamond League season for many athletes and with athletes at different stages of preparation for the World Championships in July.
The following records 10 athletes who won or lost and their reaction, not that it is anything as black and white as that.
Mutaz Barshim second high jump 2.30m
Mutaz would have loved to have performed for his own home crowd like he did in the 2019 World Championships. Unfortunately, the Korean, Sanghyeok Woo, must not have got the memo telling him that Barshim was supposed to win!
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, third 400m in 51.84
In the pre-event press conference, Shaunae had said: “We had to take it easier to start with as I was coming off an injury after Tokyo. So coach took a little time to bring me back into the normal schedule. Training has been going really well and I’m expecting great things this year”. Disappointingly, she declined to speak to the media after the race.
Rai Benjamin second 400h 47.49
He told me that he saw it as “a pretty solid performance” particularly as he just come from Tokyo, changed time zones, and was feeling a little bit tired. He added: “I’m happy to get this one done and head home. Look at what happened at the Tokyo Olympics in the hurdles, that spoke for itself and I hope to get back to that level of fitness. To win in a home World Championship would be very special but I have a lot more work to do and that will be my focus”.
Anderson Peters Javelin winner 93.07 – PR, AR, WL
He said: “I love to be here in Doha trying to get better and to be more in shape”.
Kendra Harrison winner 100h 12.43,
The first three finished together with Harrison’s winning margin 0.01 seconds from two joint second placers. Harrison said: “Races are very exciting, everybody is fast, honestly, we were so close. The crowd is awesome After Covid it’s good to compete with the crowd here. My season’s goal is to get World Championship gold. I will just prepare for the events coming up, and I try to fix my stats to improve”. Her stats are clearly in need of fixing if she can ONLY run a 12.4 in May!!
Noah Lyles winner 200m 19.72
He gave me his reaction: “I think there are a lot of things that I put together today that I’ve been trying to for a while. I felt really good coming into the race everything seemed to be coming naturally. I’m really excited to see what the future holds”.
Timothy Cheruiyot’s second 1500 in 3:36.16
The World Athletics website described this as “an upset” but I wonder if that is a little unfair on Abel Kipsang, winner of 3:35.70, who has shown some excellent form this year. Cheruiyot said: “The race was good, this is my first race. I’m expecting to improve”.
Sofiane El Bakkali Winner Steeplechase 8:09.66
When you are the Olympic champion and the other two medallists are in the race, there is pressure to deliver. El Bakkali did. His comments afterwards probably reflect his limited English rather than not having a lot to say! “I’m so happy to win the first round of the Diamond League. I’m so happy that I managed to win on the last lap. After winning the last year, I hope to win this year also”.
Dina Asher-Smith third 200m in 22.37
Dina told me: “The race was all right. It’s nice to be here and to be opening in the warm. I would’ve loved to have gone a bit faster but at the same time it’s my first 200m of the year. To race well you have to race-fit” She added: “I am not surprised that the PV was called off. I have never run in such windy conditions in my life”.
Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk’s second triple jump 14.73m
Mainly a long jumper but it was just great to see the Ukrainian competing in such a difficult year.