Rome Diamond League: Roehler keeps Zelezny in sights

Thomas Roehler of Germany won the javelin competition with an attempt of 90.6 metres.

Thomas Rohler recorded 93.90 metres in Doha last month.   -  Getty Images

Olympic champion Thomas Roehler kept the javelin world record in his crosshairs at the Rome Diamond League on Thursday, where Kenya's Hellen Obiri upset the 5000m world record plans of Ethiopian rival Genzebe Dibaba.

In Doha last month, Roehler's 93.90 metre effort was well short of retired Czech legend Jan Zelezny's 1996 world mark of 98.48, but was still the best the sport had seen in 20 years. Although still short on Thursday, the 25-year-old German overcame some early wobbles, and determined compatriot Johannes Vetter, to triumph with his sixth attempt, of 90.6m.

Vetter was second in 88.15 and Trinidad and Tobago's Keshorn Walcott third with a season best throw of 86.61. "I was really motivated to throw it far and the conditions were good, but I had to wait for my sixth attempt," said Roehler. "Johannes pushed me really hard, to throw further. In the end, I threw over 90m again and I'm really, really happy."

Ideal conditions graced the 37th edition of the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea, but Dibaba's hopes of adding the outdoor world record - held by her sister Tirunesh in 14:11.15 - to her own 5000m world indoor record were picked apart.

Obiri had clocked a world-leading 14:22.47 for the distance in Shanghai to go three seconds faster than Dibaba did in Eugene a fortnight later, and upset her rivals plans in sensational style. "When I came to this race, I told myself that nobody can beat me," said Obiri.

Before the 10-minute mark she soloed away from Dibaba to go it alone for the final laps and finish amid a standing ovation to set a new world leading time of 14:18.37, which is a new national record. Kenya's Agnes Jebet Tirop was second in a personal best of 14:33.09, with Letesenbet Gidey saving Ethiopia's podium blushes to finish third in 14:33.32.

Dibaba was sixth in 14:41.55 and Obiri added: "I was looking to 14:18, and I think I can even improve it at the next competition. I thought Genzebe would push it forward to go faster but when she didn’t, I tried to push myself."

In the absence of Jamaican 110m hurdles star Omar McLeod, the U.S.A.'s world record-holder Aries Merritt also capitalised on the perfect race conditions to match his earlier season's best in a winning time of 13.13.

Along with a decisive dip at the line, it secured victory to leave Spain's Cuban-born Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega, who had run 13.15 this year, second in 13.17.

‘Bit sloppy’

Russia's world champion Sergey Shubenkov - competing under a neutral banner - was third in 13.21. "It was a bit sloppy," said Merritt, who suggested that without "jetlag" he could have gone faster. "I wanted to run much faster but in the end I'm happy with my season's best. I mad many mistakes, hit a lot of hurdles, but my speed is getting better."

Canada's Andre De Grasse is the Olympic silver medallist in the men's 200m and, despite sharing a personal best of 19.80 with Christophe Lemaitre, dominated the Frenchman to claim victory in 20.01, a season's best.

Lemaitre was second in 20.29, with American Ameer Webb third in 20.33. "This was a great race for me today," said De Grasse, who could emulate Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers and target both the 100m and 200m events in London. For the London world championships I'm thinking about both events, the 100m and 200m. My aim is to get three medals, like in Rio, definitely."

In the women's 100m, 200m world champion Schippers fell short of her season's best of 10.95 but dominated Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou, second in 11.03, and Trinidad and Tobago's Michelle-Lee Ahye (11.07). "The result is okay for me. To get faster, I just need more races. The more starts I have, the faster I get," said Schippers.

"That is the key now on the way to London. I am preparing myself for both distances, 100 and 200 metres, so we'll see how it goes."

Colombia's Caterine Ibarguen, the 2016 Olympic champion, wowed the crowd but finished second best to Venezuela's world indoor champion Yulimar Rojas as the women's triple jump made its Diamond League debut. The world leader by more than half a metre, Rojas had leapt 14.96m this year and kept to the formbook with a leap of 14.84 that left Ibarguen in second place, albeit with a season's best of 14.73.

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