This weekly column by Deji Ogeyingbo is becoming quite popular. In this weeks’ column, Deji opines about Gabby Thomas, Francine Niyonsaba, the need to differentiate between Diamond League and other levels of meetings. And also, the level of competition in the women’s 100m hurdles in insane!
Some good thought-provoking ideas!
Gabby Thomas, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
Gabby Thomas thrills in Doha as Francine Niyonsaba drops a World Lead in the women’s 3000m
The last week in track and field witnessed a whole lot of action with the Wanda Diamond League (Athletics top one-day series meet) starting in Doha in windy conditions and some top names going about their business in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Gabby Thomas is special and could yet be the US best sprinter at this year’s World Championships. Her gutsy win in Doha proved that…
Sometimes the hallmark of the top athlete is not necessarily how prodigious they were in their early stages. In fact, the track world has seen numerous athletes come through the ranks of age-grade competitions and not blossom in their professional careers. That’s what makes US sprinter Gabby Thomas special.
Thomas only made her US Trials debut at the age of 24 last year as she stormed to a new Personal Best of 21.61s, the third-fastest time in history. It speaks volumes about her potential considering the sprinter didn’t plan to run in professional track as she chose to run at Harvard while studying neurobiology and global health.
Gabby Thomas, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
Which makes her win last Friday in Doha all the more special in which Thomas equaled Allyson Felix’s Meet Record of 21.98 to win the 200m. Having run inside 22s four times in 2021, it didn’t come as much as a surprise that she hit that mark already by May.
What was more outstanding was how she held her nerves to beat Shericka Jackson. Both sprinters were shoulder to shoulder with about 30m to go. Thomas’s resolve and top-end speed then came to the fore as she pulled away from the Jamaican.
Aside from this performance being a massive booster for her ahead of the World Championships, it gives her the right impetus to tackle the 100m. With the Champs set to be held in her home country, she might as well be the trump card for USATF to beat the sprinting prowess of the Jamaicans.
The women’s 110m Hurdles have never been this closer going into a busy summer
Quality across a discipline in an event in athletics always brings competition and that automatically ensures fast times. What that does is ensures records are broken at different meets and when these athletes race against each other, there is a high chance that the World Record can fall.
The cast in the women’s 100 Hurdles currently offers us an unprecedented quality that promises to thrill us throughout the season. World Record Holder Kendra Harrison and Commonwealth Games Champion Tobi Amusan were deadlocked over the event in Doha with the American winning it by a hair’s breadth (12.43-12.44) and Jamaica’s Brittny Anderson taking third in 21.44.
Keni Harrison, photo by Diamond League AG
The day before in Ponce, Puerto Rico, US Alaysha Johnson prevailed over Olympic Gold medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn in a big PB of 12.50 with the World Leader in the event (12.39) finishing 0.02s behind. That’s how tight it has been in the discipline.
Amusan is the Diamond League holder, Harrison is the World Record Holder, plus Jamaica’s Danielle Williams who has a Personal Best of 12.32, and Megan Tapper who cliched Bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. These are hurdlers who have all run inside 12.5 in their careers. Let’s brace ourselves for something special this year.
World Athletics needs to put a clarification between the top tier athletic series and the lower tiers
Ryan Crouser, Elaine Thompson, Athing Mu, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, and Hansle Parchment were some of the Olympic Gold medalists that headlined the World Athletics Continental Tour Silver meeting, at the Francisco Montaner Stadium in Ponce last Thursday, a day before the start of the Diamond League which is World Athletics premium one-day meet series.
A lot has been said about getting traction for the sport over the years outside the World Championships, especially bringing new followers in. But with some of the top athletes in various disciplines in the track and field having to compete in a third-tier meet it leaves a lot to be desired about what takes precedence for the viewers.
Ryan Crouser, photo by Kevin Morris / @kevmofoto
First off, there has always been an issue with having to broadcast these events, so it takes a bit of gloss out of the big performance from the likes of Crouser, Mu, and Parchment. It simply is chaos. Although the Diamond league had some top performers in Doha, there were still more to have been seen, and the Gulf nation just didn’t provide it.
For example, Formula One is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars and the best drivers always compete there. The Grand slam in tennis is the top-tier event for the sport and no other competition takes place around that time, too. Athletics needs to follow suit.
Francine Niyonsaba is creeping up on us
In the midst of all the chaos of not being allowed to compete in her favorite event given she was barred from competing internationally between 400m and 1600m unless they take medication to reduce their high testosterone, Francine Niyonsaba has shaken off that body blow to blossom where she found herself.
Call it making lemonade out of lemons and you won’t be wrong. Her win in the women’s 3000m over Kenya’s Olympic Gold medalist, Faith Kipyegon in Doha proves that. Although the world-leading time of 8:37.70 doesn’t come close to her PB of 8:19.09, it still put her in the right going into the season.
Francine Niyonsaba leads the 3000m, photo Diamond League AG
Niyonsaba’s Olympics didn’t go as planned but she more than made amends for it by becoming the first athlete who has identified herself as having a difference of sex development (DSD) to officially break a world record after she shattered the old 2000m best in 2021 by more than two seconds as she crossed the line in 5:21.26. The African Championships will be next for her, and although it would be uncharted territory, there’s a huge chance the Kenyans and Ethiopians will not give her a free ride.
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