The last Diamond League meeting, prior to the 2023 World Athletics Championships, was the London Diamond League. This is Stuart Weir’s first of three articles on the meeting held July 23, 2023, and the reason why is, each year it is held, a tremendous testament to the sport we love, global athletics.
Track and Field returned to the iconic London Stadium after a gap of four years. In the home of the 2012 Olympics and the 2017 World Championships, the Anniversary Games had become the London Athletics Meet. A sell-out crowd was entertained by an afternoon of high quality and drama.
The excellence and depth of the field were probably unequaled anywhere this year, just as the 50,000 crowd was unsurpassed at any track meet in the world this year. That it was the last major meet before the World Championships only added to the drama.
The men’s shot and the women’s pole vault were contested by the world’s top 8 athletes in the discipline.
The women’s hurdles had 7 of the top 8.
The women’s long jump 7 of the top 10.
Several events had 5 or 6 of the top in the event.
Athletes love competing in London:
“My memories of London are just how good the crowd is and the way the crowd gets into it. In London, it’s always a packed house, and from an athlete standpoint, that’s really all we want – good energy from the crowd.” Katie Moon, Olympic, and World Champ.
“In London, the atmosphere is amazing, and athletes really respect that. Britain is a huge sports nation, and you’re always inspiring us in whatever you do”. Sandra Perkovic (Sandra has won 46 of 75 Diamond League meetings she has competed in).
”I’ve got a few memories of London, so obviously the World Championships, which was a highlight to my career. It was probably one of the most challenging championships I’ve done as I tried doing the double over there, and the weather was quite difficult and cold. That made it a bit more challenging. I wouldn’t say anything bad about London”. Wayde van Niekerk, Olympic, 2-time World champ, WR holder, 400 meters.
And just to prove it, Wayde won the 400m in 44.36.
The day’s outstanding performance was Femke Bol’s European record of 51.45 in the 400 hurdles – that new stride pattern is certainly delivering. Janieve Russell was second in a totally respectable 53.75 but was over two seconds off the pace!
Last month Zharnel Hughes broke Linford Christie’s British 100m record. This weekend his 19.73 broke the British record set 30 years ago by John Regis. Noah Lyles won the race in a WL 19.47.
Two British athletes in the women’s 100 ran sub 11 – Dina Asher-Smith second in 10.85 and Darry Neita fourth in 10.96 – but were well behind Ta Lou’s 10.75. Shericka Jackson was third in 10.94. Sadly Sha’Carri Richardson did not start (she withdrew due to an injury in warm-up).
The day’s final race was a women’s 800, from which Keely Hodgkinson was a late withdrawal through feeling ill. It was a great race, with Jemma Reekie (1:57.30) just beating Natoya Goule-Toppin (1:57.61), with the first seven athletes finishing in under 2 minutes. I was thrilled to see Jemma Reekie run such a strong race. She was fourth in the Tokyo Olympics by a fraction and then was ill before having a change of location and coach. It all seems to be coming together for her.
Save the date! The 2024 London Athletics Meet will be back at the London Stadium on Saturday, 20 July, just before the Paris Olympics.