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What We Learned: Diamond League Lausanne

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on Jul 3 2014, 08:48 PM

Men's High Jump & Sprints Dominate Discussion

By Scott Bush

The Diamond League resumed Thursday in Lausanne, Switzerland, as athletes kicked off the next round of big meet competition. With championship-level fields spread across the event schedule, here’s what we learned.

James Bests Merritt With Ease

Heading into Thursday’s action, Kirani James (GRN) and LaShawn Merritt (USA) were 1-1 against each other on the season. Merritt got the best of James at the Drake Relays, while James nipped Merritt at Pre, both finishing in the same time. This time around though, it was no contest, as James led from start to finish, crossing the line in 43.74 to Merritt’s runner-up effort of 43.92.

One has to wonder if Merritt needs to take a little down time. He’s raced nearly ten times this season already, with little down time in between. James on the other hand has raced less than five times and simply looked fresh. These two form one of the best rivalries in the sport and you can bet they’ll see each other a few more times this season.

The Most Exciting Event in Track and Field

The men’s high jump is clearly the most exciting event in track and field at the moment. With a ridiculous amount of top-tier talent and near weekly attempts at clearing 2.40m and going for the world record of 2.46m, this event only continues to rise in profile.

Yet again, Bohdan Bondarenko (UKR) won, showing among the rising group of 5-7 legit competitors in the event, he still reigns as king. Bondarenko beat fellow Ukranian Andrly Protsenko, as both cleared 2.40m but Bondarenko won on attempts. After Bondarenko hit 2.40, he had the bar raised to 2.46m (world record), but missed on each of his three attempts.

Behind the two Ukranians, Ivan Ukhov (RUS) and Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) went 3-4, but clearing 2.38m, making Thursday’s high jump the best ever 1-4. No event has ever had four athletes clear 2.38m. Incredible!

The Men’s 100m Dash Gets Folks Talking

No matter your views on whether Tyson Gay should be competing, or if athletes such as Justin Gatlin or Mike Rodgers should ever race again after their past drug tests, the men’s 100m got a ridiculous amount of buzz online. As Gatlin ran a world leading 9.80, Gay debuted after a year suspension in 9.93 and Rodgers ran a season best of 9.98 for third, Twitter was buzzing with opinions of every sort.

Gatlin is undefeated on the year, Gay is only going to get faster as he shakes the rust off and Rodgers continues to be a top three threat in every race, giving the U.S. a 1-2-3 that no nation can match at this point. With Yohan Blake finishing a disappointing seventh in the men’s 200m and looking well out of shape, and Usain Bolt yet to race in 2014, the 100m event is wide open for America’s continued dominance.

With Gatlin, Gay and Rodgers all have strikes against them, fans may still voice their disdain for athletes with doping pasts, but you have to admit the event is wildly entertaining. Swiss fans proved as much, letting out one of the loudest roars of the evening as the race unfolded.

Culson v. Tinsley Is a Budding Rivalry

Javier Culson (PUR) and Michael Tinsley (USA) once again went head-to-head, this time Culson narrowly won, leading from the gun but nearly fading enough for Tinsley to pick him off. The Puerto Rican standout won 48.32-48.40. While Culson could make claim to the top long hurdler of the season thus far, these two are too close and with a few more opportunities to race this season, fans should start to take notice of one of the better growing rivalries around.

Start Following Jeff Henderson

The U.S. long jump champion Jeff Henderson (USA) needs to be an athlete you follow…right now. Henderson upset Olympic gold medalist Greg Rutherford (GBR) in Laussane with his winning leap of 8.31m. While fans were shocked, it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, considering he now holds four of the top ten best leaps in the world this season. A Diamond League win is always a mental boost. How far Henderson can push his talent this season is going to be fun to watch.

Four more quick thoughts…

1. You know what’s boring…races that have the vast majority of athletes in the exact same sponsor kit. Go watch the men’s steeplechase to get an idea of that statement. Would it kill a sponsor to at least color code their seasonal kits? Why invest money in sponsoring athletes if you can’t even tell them apart, as the camera rarely zooms in enough to get a read on who’s where if you only get to watch them a handful of times throughout the year. Missed opportunity.

2. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (FRA) is now the man to beat in the men’s 110m hurdles. There is no question about that. With American champion Devon Allen shifting his focus away from the track and back onto the football field the rest of the summer, Martinot-Lagarde is running on all cyclinders and looks like he may be unbeatable the rest of the season. The Frenchman won Thursday’s event against a stacked field in 13.06, second best in the world this year and another personal best on the season.

3. Molly Beckwith-Ludlow (USA) inspired in the women’s 800m. While the race was horribly rabbited, Beckwith-Ludlow gave Eunice Sum (KEN) a run for her money over the final 200m of the race, even looking like she might take the race. While she faded over the final 50m to settle for fourth in a new seasonal best of 1:59.30, the Indiana-based athlete continues to improve and show she’s one to watch the rest of the season. American 800m women are such a talented group right now!

4. It’s starting to seem like Valerie Adams (NZL) may never lose ever again. She dominated the women’s shot, yet again. Her winning mark of 20.42m bested runner-up Liljao Gong (CHN) by nearly a meter, as Gong had to throw a seasonal best of 19.65 to edge third place Michelle Carter (USA). About Adams though, she tossed 20.42m for each of her first two throws, scratched her third, only to come back with 20.24m on her fourth attempt. Three throws of 20.20m+ is ridiculous.

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