By Neil Leverett
- Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith finishes second behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in women’s 100m at Muller Anniversary Games in London
- Laura Muir coasts to 1500m win in Diamond League Round 10, as Zharnel Hughes pipped to 100m win in men’s race
- Karsten Warholm lays down emphatic marker in 400m hurdles, whilst Xie Zhenye catapults into men’s 200m picture
LONDON, UK – After another stunning weekend of athletics at the Muller Anniversary Games in London, what did we learn from Round 10 of the 2019 IAAF Diamond League season?
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Fraser-Pryce better than ever?
As Round 10 of the 2019 IAAF Diamond League rolled into London for the Muller Anniversary Games, the Brits were out in force at the London Stadium, with now just over two months until the World Championship in Doha, Qatar at the end of September.
With home crowd favourite Dina Asher-Smith competing in the women’s 100m however, the Bromley Harrier was again second best to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who after a slow start to the season is now firmly back to her very best – indeed perhaps in better form than the Jamaican sprinter was before her absence during maternity.
For Asher-Smith, after two Diamond League wins under her belt in 2019, her transition onto a rapid-rising upward curve continues to gain momentum, but the Briton still has some way to go to beat the formidable former four-time World and double Olympic Champion.
Qualifying fastest into the final in London, Asher-Smith had ran a joint-equaling season’s best of 10:91 but clocked a time of one-one-hundredths of a second slower in the weekend’s curtain-dropper – nevertheless beating both Stanford winner Marie-Josee Ta Lou and fellow 2019 Diamond League winner Blessing Okagbare into third and fourth respectively.
Furthermore, in what was stellar 100m cast – after World champion on the very same Olympic Stadium track two years ago, Daphne Schippers was disqualified for a false-start – the 23-year-old Briton’s performance was another strong one in trying to keep pace with Fraser-Pryce.
For now however, it is indeed keeping pace with the runaway Kingstonian athlete that is becoming a task not just for Asher-Smith but the rest of the field, with the business end of the campaign on the horizon.
Hughes misses out
In the men’s race, there was also frustration from Zharnel Hughes, who similarly was forced into runners-up spot at the London Stadium, as Akani Simbine took advantage of weakened field taking victory in a time of 9:93
With the majority of US athletes opting to remain back home ahead of next week’s US Trials in Iowa, the trio of Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin and Noah Lyles were all absent, allowing the likes of Hughes and Yohan Blake to take centre stage.
It was however Simbine who took home the weekend’s spoils, as despite the Hughes setting a SB of 9:95, his rather staggered start cost the adopted Anguillan athlete the win – unable to catch the South African Commonwealth champion – whose last Diamond League win came two years ago in Doha.
Hughes has already shown his superior speed over 100m, but for the Briton to challenge for a medal in Qatar, all the pieces need to come together. When Round 11 arrives in Birmingham in month’s time, the Americans will be back and Hughes must show he can compete with the best.
Confidence-boosting win for Muir
In the women’s 1500m, Laura Muir notched a confidence-boosting win in coasting to victory in front of her home crowd, again running sub-four minutes in a time of 3:58:25, ahead of Kenya’s Winny Chebet and Canadian Gabriela Debues-Stafford.
Having been pushed by surprise front-runner Kostanze Klosterhalfen during the final lap, the German eventually faded on the final bend, leaving Muir to race away down home straight and coast to victory.
Muir, last season’s Diamond League winner, has been unable to recapture her form of 2018 with just the single league win in Stockholm and despite the absence of both the world and Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon – who pipped the Scot in Stanford – and world record holder Genzebe Dibaba, the win is the perfect tonic for the Briton.
With women’s Mile record holder Sifan Hassan having announced her decision to concentrate on the 5000m in preparation for Qatar, Muir will have less to contend with for sure, but even with Kipyegon and Dibaba still to be beaten by the Scot this season, the win in London was an important step on her path to Doha.
Warholm emphatic win
For the 400m World champion Karsten Warholm, London saw the Norwegian lay down a sizeable marker to his many rivals in the event, dominating the event and setting an all-comers record of 47:13, running the fastest time this year as the Warholm set a new PB.
On the track the 23-year-old describes as ‘special’, the Norwegian ran a similarly dominant race to that which saw Warholm light up a wet night at the worlds’ in London two years ago.
Warholm has opted to pick and choose his Diamond League participation this season, having not raced since a win at home in Oslo, but both Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba and American Rai Benjamin will have sat up with a jolt after his win here.
Conversely after his return from injury, Kyron McMaster‘s comeback was short-lived as the British Virgin Islands runner pulled up with a muscle injury, which must now throw huge doubt into his build up for Doha.
Warholm meanwhile continues to improve with every race, and having close to clocking a sub-47-second mark, the talk now is whether he can break Kevin Young’s world record of 46.78 set at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Xie catapults into 200m reckoning
The weekend’s other big result saw China’s Xie Zhenye take a surprise win the men’s 200m, overcoming a strong British field and pipping rising star Miguel Francis by mere millimetres to clock 19.87.
With Andre de Grasse running in the 100m on Saturday, fellow Canadian Aaron Brown not present, and Lyles preparing in the United States for next weekend a British winner was expected, but Xie however was not playing ball, on the track he won last year’s World Cup on.
As former Asian and Youth Olympic champion, Xie’s early career had promised much but until 2018 had stuttered somewhat. After a win here – and with an upcoming Olympic Games in neighbouring Japan next summer – the Chinese sprinter has catapulted himself into the picture for the remainder of the season.
Round 11 of the 2019 Diamond League takes place in Birmingham for the Muller Grand Prix on Sunday 18 August.
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