American looks impressive at start of 2023 outdoor season and lays down early marker at the Diamond League in Doha

Sha’Carri Richardson was supreme at the Doha Diamond League on Friday (May 5) and saw off Shericka Jackson and Dina Asher-Smith in an epic 100m.

The American sprinter clocked 10.76 (0.9), the fourth quickest time she has ever run in legal conditions and fastest in two years. It was also fitting that Richardson bettered Tori Bowie’s meeting record. Bowie, the world 100m champion from London 2017 and Olympic sprint relay champion at Rio 2016, sadly passed away aged 32 on May 3.

World 200m champion Jackson looked like she had done enough to overcome Richardson and Asher-Smith but the American chased her down in the last 20m. Jackson and Asher-Smith clocked 10.85 and 10.98 respectively.

“I’m so blessed and thankful, I feel at peace,” Richardson said. “All I do is the best I do and I’m excited to do it. Like I said it before, I had to be kicked out from another 100m race, so I had to do my best no matter what. Peace, love and life.”

Sha’Carri Richardson (left) wins in Doha (Getty)

Only three men in history have gone sub-10, sub-20 and sub-44 in the 100m, 200m and 400m and two of them raced each other in Doha, albeit with slightly different outcomes. In a 200m largely dominated by Americans, world 100m champion Fred Kerley took home the crown with a respectable time of 19.92 (0.3).

However, it was a different story for world 400m champion Michael Norman who had a disappointing race and finished a shock eighth in 20.65.

“I was comfortable but I know I still have got work to do,” Kerley said. “To win here was important and I did. I was happy with the competition, it was a good one, the guys gave me a fight. Next up is Japan where I open up my season in the 100m.”

Faith Kipyegon was pushed a lot by a superb Diribe Welteji in a stunning 1500m but kicked away in the last 100m and claimed yet another win on the Diamond League circuit. The double Olympic and world 1500m champion clocked a swift 3:58.57 while 21-year-old Welteji ran 3:59.34. Expect those two to have a few more battles this year.

“I am very pleased with my start of the season, it was an exciting race, but a little bit windy, so I decided to not push too much and just focus on winning the race,” Kipyegon said. “I have been training well, I really like racing in Doha, the crowd and fans are really amazing so thank you for coming out to cheer us.

“My big goal is to win the world championships and to break the world record this summer.”

Faith Kipyegon wins the 1500m (Getty)

In one of the fastest 3000m races in history, Lamecha Girma – who broke the world 3000m indoor record back in February – went eighth on the all-time outdoor list in Doha after a truly stunning 7:26.18.

Such was the strength in depth of quality, fellow Ethiopians Selemon Barega and Berihu Aregawi ran 7:27.26 and 7:27.61. That makes them the 14th and 16th quickest athletes over the distance in history.

Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra narrowly bettered the man he beat to gold in Tokyo, Jakub Vadlejch.

It couldn’t have been closer between the pair as they battled the conditions, throwing their javelins into the gusty wind in the picture perfect Doha night sky.

Chopra’s best throw of 88.67m was just better than Vadlejch’s 88.63m and both will be confident of how they’ve opened up their 2023 season.

“It was a very hard win but I’m happy and it’s a really good start for me,” Chopra said. “I hope to come first in my upcoming competitions and to be consistent during this season.

“Sometimes it’s really hard because we have have a big country and now more athletes from India want to join me and do the javelin. I’m lucky people have faith in me. I feel really good.”

The biggest surprise of the night was that home favourite and Olympic and triple world high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim only finished third after failing to clear 2.27m. Wearing his traditional shades, the Qatari couldn’t impress the crowd like he did at the 2019 World Championships and struggled throughout the competition, having only cleared 2.21m at the third attempt.

American JuVaughn Harrison took the plaudits with a best clearance of 2.32m and South Korean Woo Sanghyeok was second after getting over 2.27m.

“It’s great to come out here and take the win,” Harrison said. “I came here to take on the victory. I wanted to go higher, but there was no need to over do it and everything technique wise went great. Now, I will work hard back in the US, then head to Florence for the Diamond League.”

Another shock almost came in an epic 400m hurdles when Rai Benjamin was almost beaten by fellow American CJ Allen. The Olympic and double world 400m hurdles silver medallist fought hard for the victory and clocked 47.78 to Allen’s 47.93, who lowered his PB from 48.17.

Rai Benjamin wins the 400m hurdles (Getty)

A brutal women’s 3000m steeplechase took a few victims and they included Americans Emma Coburn and Valerie Constien. The latter screamed in agony on the ground and pulled out of the race. Bahraini Winfred Mutile Yavi got the better of teenage Ethiopian Sembo Alemayehu down the back straight. Yavi clocked a world leading 9:04:38 to Alemayehu’s 9:05:83 while world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech finished fourth.

Olympic and world 400m silver medallist, plus reigning Diamond League champion, Marileidy Paulino started her 2023 with a solid win after clocking 50.51 in Doha. She saw off Shamier Little down the back straight who ran 50.84. The women’s 400m could be one of the most spectacular events to watch this season given Femke Bol and Britton Wilson ran the two fastest indoor times in history earlier this year. Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has also hinted she may double up or move away from the 400m hurdles this summer.

With a best jump of 17.91m, Olympic, world and European triple jump champion Pedro Pichardo overcame the high quality competition from Hugues Fabrice Zango and Andy Diaz Fernandez in Doha. Zango had the world lead with 17.81m though because his jump was in the legal wind limit. Fernandez finished third and was close behind with a best jump of 17.80m.

Olympic 100m hurdles champion and world bronze medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn will no doubt be pleased by her first Diamond League performance of 2023 as she took the plaudits in 12.48 (1.1).

Americans Alaysha Johnson and Nia Ali took second and third with 12.66 and 12.69 respectively but were no match for the Puerto Rican who disappeared over the Qatari horizon in the last 30m of the race.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn wins the 100m hurdles (Getty)

A monstrous first round throw of 70.89m – a meeting record – saw world discus champion and European silver medallist Kristjan Čeh beat Daniel Ståhl by an astonishing three metres. Such was his dominance, a fifth round throw of 70.70m would’ve also easily seen the Czech win as well. Lawrence Okoye was fifth with 64.31m and Nick Percy finished ninth after a best throw of 58.49m.

In the 800m, Algeria’s Slimane Moula kept himself out of trouble and stayed on the outside to win in 1:46.06. World indoor 800m silver medallist Noah Kibet slowed it up from the front over the first lap but those tactics backfired spectacularly and he fell away in the last lap to finish 10th.

A pulsating battle in the pole vault saw Olympic champion Katie Moon (née Nageotte) beat world indoor and European bronze medallist Tina Šutej, who had the competition of her life. Moon vaulted 4.81m and was pushed by Šutej who set a Slovenian record with 4.76m.

Holly Bradshaw, who’s been out since last June with a long-term injury that she sustained at the World Championships, sadly didn’t start after Achilles and calf stiffness in the warm-up.

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