By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – South African Akani Simbine pulled off something of a surprise in the London Diamond League 100 metres on Saturday, holding off local hope Zharnel Hughes and former world champion Yohan Blake to come home in 9.93 seconds.
Hughes had clocked an impressive 9.96 in the heats, despite easing up and running into a slight headwind but he was always trailing in the final, posting 9.95.
Blake, the joint-second fastest man of all time with his 9.69 set in 2012, is getting back towards his best and continued his good season with third in 9.97 as the top five all broke 10 seconds.
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was a convincing winner of the women’s 200m in 22.13, holding off fast-finishing Marie-Josee Ta Lou (22.36) and Britain’s Beth Dobbin, who was delighted with a personal best of 22.50.
“I’m over the moon with that,” she said. “This time last year I missed the Anniversary Games because I had a shift at work, so to now be a full time athlete, racing against Olympic champions, it’s just a dream come true. I was racing against my idols so I am absolutely buzzing.”
There was more to cheer for home fans as Laura Muir delivered a dominant front-running display and a blistering last lap to win the 1500m in 3:58.25.
“That’s probably close to my 400m PB,” the Scot said of the 57.54 burn up.
Jamaica’s Danielle Williams fired out the fastest time of the year in winning the 100m hurdles in 12.32 – a shade behind the world record set by American Kendra Harrision in the same meeting three years ago.
American duo Nia Ali (12.57) and Queen Claye followed her home.
“It has been coming all season and it was just about when,” said Williams. “This is a fast track and the fact that we get two opportunities because of the heats you can fix what you did wrong ready for the final.”
In the 5,000m, Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrihiwet had a little too much in the tank for Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the European champion, as he surged home in 13:01.86.
There was some consolation for the 18-year-old though as his 13:02.03 took a remarkable 15 seconds off his pb to set a European uunder-20 record and put him in good shape for his 5,000m/1500m double assault at the world championships in Doha in September.
“I’m definitely able to go under 13 minutes. I was hoping for a personal best, but a national record is even better,” Ingebrigtsen said.
It was Norway all the way in the 400m hurdles as Karsten Warholm destroyed the field to come home in a European record 47.12 seconds, miles ahead of Turkey’s Yasmani Copello (48.93).
Warholm, another with fond memories of the Olympic Stadium after winning the world title here two years ago, was in total control from the start. Running in his preferred lane seven, better for his hamstrings than the tighter inside lane, he wiped away his personal best of 47.33.
“I always try to surprise but at the same time it’s not a given,” Warholm said. “It takes hard work, dedication and a lot for me to get out those extraordinary times.”
There was huge disappointment for the crowd when Botswana’s Nijel Amos, who ran the fastest 800m by anyone since the London 2012 Olympics, in Monaco eight days ago (1:41.89), fell 120 metres into Saturday’s race.
In his absence Kenyan Cheruiyot Rotich held off compatriot Wyclife Kinyamal in 1:43.14.
The second day of the event takes place on Sunday, with the women’s 5,000 metres, featuring new mile world record holder Sifan Hassan, and the women’s 100m, where local favourite Dina Asher-Smith goes against double Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, top of the bill.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Pritha Sarkar)