By Neil Leverett
- Dina Asher-Smith finishes runner-up in women’s 100m, as Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce bounces back to win in Lausanne
- Jodie Williams also comes home second in 200m; Gabrielle Thomas edges Briton for win
- Noah Lyles lays down emphatic marker, as Naser and Ortega blaze Swiss trail
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – Britain’s Dina-Asher Smith and Jodie Williams both finished runners-up at Athletissima, but else did we learn from Round 8 of the Diamond League?
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Fraser-Pryce blasts back; Asher-Smith SB
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce bounced back emphatically after finishing eighth in California last weekend, to win the women’s 200m in Lausanne, in Round 8 of 2019 IAAF Diamond League. Britain’s Dina-Asher Smith finished runner-up, again clocking sub-11 seconds to continue her sterling form this season.
Following a nervy false-start which saw Asher-Smith yellow carded for a technical infringement, the Bromley harrier took the scalp of both Daphne Schippers and winner last time out in Marie-Josee Ta Lou, recording a season’s best of 10.91.
For world number one Fraser-Pryce on her return from maternity and after an out-of-sorts showing last time out – only days after winning the Jamaican Championships in Kingston – the win lays down a real statement to the her rivals, with now five different Diamond League winners over 100m this year.
With neither Blessing Okagbare, Elaine Thompson nor Aleia Hobbs attending Athletissima, the competition is hotting up as the European leg of the season kicks into gear ahead of the World Championships in September.
Williams throws hat into ring
Britain’s Jodie Williams also had a productive evening in the shadow of Lake Geneva, coming withing inches of a season-defining win in the women’s 200m, edged out into runners-up spot by American Gabrielle Thomas, who clocked a season’s best time of 22.69.
Williams, now Phoenix-based, ran a storming 100m off the bend, but the natural flat sprinter tied up in the final strides and was nosed out on the finish line.
A Commonwealth silver-medalist and European Champion in 2014, the 25-year-old Hertfordshire native has suffered in recent years, but here set a new SB of 22.75, slicing .17 of a second off her best time for the year. Compatriot Ashleigh Nelson came home in fourth, running a new personal best time of 22.94, as Anthonique Strachan of the Bahamas finished third.
As Asher-Smith juggles both sprint distances in the coming weeks, the field could begin to open for her fellow Brits in the weeks to come. Aside from Schippers, Okagbare et al, Williams in particular is beginning to show signs of resurgence, having moved to the United States in an upheaval of her training programme. After a uncertain run of form, could the Briton force her way into the reckoning for Doha?
Lyles lays down marker
As the men lined up for arguably the race of the evening, a stacked field containing four separate winners of the 200m in the Diamond League were blown away, as American Noah Lyles smashed his PB and indeed the field, finishing 0.37 of a second ahead of the chasing pack in a meeting record of 19.50.
Having already stunned 100m rival Christian Coleman in Shanghai earlier this season, the Floridian destroyed the field in Switzerland to clock a time that only Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt have ran faster than in the history of the event.
Canadian Andre De Grasse who notched a win last month in Morocco could only manage third, as fellow countryman Aaron Brown – 200m Diamond League winner in both China and Sweden – finished fourth ahead of Turkish World champion Ramil Guliyev.
Lyles, having laid down an emphatic marker in Lausanne continues his meteoric rise this season and having stunned Coleman already this season, the 21-year-old could be set to dominate the competition for the rest of 2019.
Seyni challenging Naser
Salwa Eid Naser continued her imperious form in 2019 to record her fourth-straight Diamond League victory, breaking Marie-Jose Perec‘s 23-year meet record, in a time of 49.18 in the women’s 400m.
Maintaining her 100% campaign was given her sternest test yet however, as Niger’s Aminatou Seyni went in pursuit down the home straight, pushing Naser all the way only for the tape to come too soon. For the Bahrain athlete, who has dominated in 2019, the efforts of the 22-year-old African is likely to be the wake up call needed.
As Jamaican Stephenie-Ann McPherson ended up in third, Londoner Laviai Nielsen finished with a hugely creditable fourth place, as the former European Junior champion set a season’s best of 51.31, just one-tenth outside her PB.
Ortega blazing trail
Orlando Ortega continued to blaze a trail going into the second half of the 2019 season, as the Spaniard recorded back-to-back 110m hurdles wins, holding off north American duo Daniel Roberts and Ronald Levy, in another SB time of 13.05.
Having won his first race of the campaign in Stanford last weekend, the Cuban-born 27-year-old has continued his rise up the rankings for his adopted nation, after winning silver at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
As both Sergey Shubenkov and Omar McLeod sat out the race, the two men would have watched on in intrigue as former winners this campaign. Ortega however appears to have the speed between the hurdles, and will go for a triple of consecutive wins later this month at the Muller Anniversary Games in London later this month.
Round 9 of the IAAF Diamond League takes place in Monaco on Friday 12 July
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