This is Stuart Weir’s second column on Zurich Weltklasse, which occurred on August 31, 2023.
The Weltklasse – living up to its name
The Weltklasse would be on anyone’s list of best Diamond Leagues, held annually in the Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich. A sell-out 25,000 crowd provided a great atmosphere this year. Often, the event is the Diamond League final. That it was not this year did not seem to diminish it.
The last two events before the official start of the 2 hour TV program set the scene for the Swiss crowd, with Marcel Hug winning the 1500m wheelchair race before Jason Joseph won the 110m hurdles in a Swiss record 13.08.
At the pre-event press conference, the meet director acknowledged that it was a little arrogant to call your event Weltklasse (World Class), adding that there was then pressure to deliver! He need not have worried this year as the Weltklasse certainly delivered with a balanced program of throws, jumps, and races – sprints, middle and long distance, hurdles and steeple, plus a relay to finish. And before that, kids races and national races to warm up the crowd.
Then there were the global stars who strutted their stuff:
Noah Lyles won the 200 in 19.80 with the top four under 20 seconds!
Mutaz Essa Barshim soared to 2:35 in the high jump; Mondo added to his extensive collection of 6-meter leaps.
Miltiadis Tentoglou won the long jump, as he usually does.
Sha’Carri Richardson brought her usual glitz and grace, not to mention raw speed, to a 100m win.
Winifred Yavi again took the steeplechase.
Yulimar Rojas took the triple jump, but then she always seems to!
Yared Nuguse won the 1500 in 3:30.49. He wasn’t the favorite, but is such a great athlete that you can’t call it a shock.
Not a winner, but it was great to see Sam Kendricks’s clear 5.95 because, as well as being a great vaulter,he is such a nice man. He celebrated his success by sprinting 100m down the track. It’s OK, Noah, he wasn’t that fast.
There were shocks:
Kyron McMaster had clearly not been told that he was being paid to finish behind Karsten Warholm, so he won the race, beating not only Warholm but Alison dos Santos! This was another of those Weltklasse races where 47.62 just got you third place!
Neeraj Chopra was beaten in the javelin.
The top couple prize went to Nia Ali and Andre de Grasse, who gave an interesting seminar pre-event on balancing parenting and being an elite athlete. Nia was seventh in the 100m hurdles, and Andre fifth in the 200m.
A personal favorite of mine was the pre-event 400m won by Shaunae Miller-Uibo just 3 months after giving birth. She told me that her sights are firmly on Paris and felt that a few races late this season would help the body “to get the body used to the shock again – and be ready for next season!” She added: “Having become a mother has no comparison [to her greatest athletics achievement]. This is my greatest blessing, and I love that boy so much. I am going to go back into things, and I just want to make him proud. I want to get back up and, hopefully, whatever happens next year, I am doing it for him”.
Finally, a mention for Colin Jackson, former world record holder in the high hurdles. He moderated the event press conferences (welcoming Shericka with the comment that it was good to have another Jackson), facilitated that chat with Nia and Andre on parenthood and conducted a dialogue for media with Seb Coe. Then he was on my flight back to London, the same compartment of the train to terminal in Heathrow, went through passport control in the next cubicle to me and waited with me for my luggage. I wouldn’t me surprised if he turned up at my house for lunch tomorrow.
Watch my Zurich videos:
Kyron McMaster https://twitter.com/i/status/1697324900199907648
Karsten Warholm https://twitter.com/i/status/1697316307643887730
Shaunae Miller-Uibo https://twitter.com/i/status/1697299578058358869