Photo: Asafa Powell celebrates his victory in the men's 100m in the Diamond League in Paris yesterday. Powell won the race in 9.81s. (AP)
The familiar names of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Asafa Powell were among the headlines at the Paris leg of the IAAF Diamond League series on Saturday, as both Jamaicans won their respective 100m events in impressive fashion, on a day when some of their countrymen struggled in the famous city.
Fraser-Pryce turned back an impressive field to win the women’s 100m in a world leading and season’s best 10.74s, getting the better of Nigeria’s Blessings Okagbare (10.80) and America’s English Gardner (10.97). Out of the blocks with her now famous bullet start, Fraser-Pryce controlled the race from start to finish despite the best efforts of Commonwealth champion Okagbare who finished the race strongly.
Asafa Powell who declared himself a new man at the Jamaica National trials a week ago continued his renaissance with what could be his best put together race so far this season. The ‘Sub-10 King’ has been struggling with his start of late, but had no such problems in Paris as he got out ahead of the field and raced away to a comfortable win in 9.81s , ahead of crowd favourite, Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut who stopped the clock at 9.86s. For Vicaut it was a personal best, European record and serious statement ahead of next month’s World Championships. Mike Rodgers (9.99s) of the USA was the only other athlete to go below 10s in the race with Jamaica’s Nesta Carter finishing fourth in 10.02s.
Meanwhile in the first track final of the day, the women’s 400m hurdles, Jamaica national champion Janieve Russell, could only muster 55.54 for 7th place, almost two seconds behind race winner Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic who won in 53.76. Sara Slott Peterson (53.99) of Denmark and Adekoya Oluwakemi (54.12) of Bahrain were second and third respectively.
Jamaica’s other female performer of the night, Kimberly Williams, also endured a miserable night, finishing 6th with a leap of 14.20m in the triple jump. The event was won by Columbia’s Caterine Ibraguen 14.87m, while second went to Ekaterina Koneva of Russia 14.72m and Anna Kryazheva also of Russia claimed third place.
Rusheen McDonald continued to show his pedigree in the men’s 400m with another sub-45 clocking in the event. The University of Technology student crossed the line in 44.84s for fourth place in a fast race. Grenadian Kirani James (44.17) entered the race as favourite but was upset by Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa who won in a time of 43.96 with American champion David Verburg finishing third in 44.81. The other Jamaican in the race, Edino Steele, clocked a pedestrian 46.22s for 8th place.
Damar Forbes who has a podium finish in the long jump at the World Championships on his mind will know that he still has a far way to go following his 6th place finish in Paris. The National champion jumped 7.89 for 6th place in the event won by Mike Hartfield of the USA with 8.19m. Kafetien Gomis of France (8.13) and Fabrice Lapierre of Australia rounded out the top three.
Discus thrower Jason Morgan, the current world leader in the event, finished 7th in Paris with a throw of 62.03m. Piotr Malachowski of Poland 65.57, Zoltan Kovago of Hungary 65.23 and Gerd Kanter of Estonia 64.11 took the top spots. Morgan who was not perturbed by his placing told Yardie Sports, “It’s all a part of the journey. I have a mission and that is to get me a medal in August. I won’t get up and throw far every day, but I want to be able to throw far on the right day.” Morgan has a number of events lined up for the rest of the month, the next of which is in Budapest, Hungary on Tuesday.