Olympic champion Elaine Thompson clocked the fastest 100m of the season at the Shanghai Diamond League on Saturday to bolster her claim as sprint favourite for this year’s world championships. One week after posting 2017’s quickest 200m at the Diamond League season-opener in Doha, the Jamaican powered away from the pack for a convincing win in 10.78sec.
Among the field events, former crystal meth addict Luvo Manyonga leapt to a Diamond League record 8.61m in his final attempt to win the long jump in brilliant style. A little earlier, Thompson had crossed the line well ahead of America’s Tori Bowie (11.04sec), whom the Jamaican also relegated to silver at last year’s Rio Olympics.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Thompson said, when asked about her trajectory toward the world championships in London in August. “I just have to take it race by race.”
“It’s all about preparing for the rest of the season and the world championships,” added Thompson.
Thompson, 24, achieved a rare sprint double in Rio, becoming the first woman since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 to win both the 100m and 200m in the same games, but is yet to win an individual world gold. She continued her strong start to the year after running 22.19sec in the 200m in Doha - nearly a half-second faster than her gold-medal time in Rio.
In the long jump, Manyonga, the Olympic silver medallist who became addicted to crystal methamphetamine and was suspended in 2012, led even before his giant final leap.
“I didn’t get the distance today I wanted as I was looking for 8.80m, but I know it will come,” the South African said. “I am pleased to win again. My success has been down to hard work, training, dedication and commitment. I hope now to just go on and win everything I can this season.”
Kenya’s 800m world record holder David Rudisha, however, was less thrilled with his 2017 Diamond League debut.
The two-time world and Olympic champion managed just fourth place in Shanghai, citing early season rust, but vowed to sharpen up. “I’m not really happy but at least now I know where I am and can see how I can improve from there,” he said. “I’ve been doing some quite good training and hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be building up nicely.”
Olympic champion Omar McLeod joined Thompson as a Jamaican winner with victory in the men’s 110m hurdles, just holding off hard-charging Spaniard Orlando Ortega in a repeat of the Rio Games one-two finish. And Jamaica’s Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who memorably snatched Rio 400m gold with a last-gasp dive across the finish line to upset decorated American Allyson Felix, won with the fastest time of the year at 49.77.
Olympic title holder Faith Kipyegon of Kenya logged the fastest time so far this year in the women’s 1,500m, holding off late pressure from 2016 world indoor silver medallist Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia.
In a field largely devoid of elite sprinters, 19-year-old American Noah Lyles tied world record holder Wayde van Niekerk for the fastest men’s 200m time of the year, 19.90sec. China’s Su Bingtian gave the home crowd a thrill by winning the men’s 100m with a time of 10.09sec in another race lacking top talent, including America’s Justin Gatlin who skipped Shanghai.
In the pole vault, Sam Kendricks of the United States - last year’s Olympic bronze medallist - exacted some revenge on Rio gold and silver medallists Thiago Braz of Brazil and France’s Renaud Lavillenie. Kendricks vaulted 5.88m to win the event, with world record holder Lavillenie second and Canada’s Shawn Barber third.
Braz, who electrified a fiercely partisan Rio home crowd last August by beating Lavillenie to gold, finished fourth.
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