Brussels

Caster Semenya
AP

Caster Semenya wins Brussels 400m in personal best

2 Comments

Caster Semenya should definitely be taken seriously in the 400m.

Semenya, the scrutinized Olympic 800m champion, won a 400m race in a massive personal best in the final Diamond League meet of the season in Brussels on Friday.

The South African clocked 50.40 seconds, taking .34 off her personal best set earlier this year. It was her first time racing 400m against a top-level international field.

Semenya came from behind in the race and beat the Rio Olympic third- and fourth-place finishers, collapsing to the track after crossing the finish line. Video is here.

“This was a cheeky one,” Semenya said, according to the IAAF. “I had to come back from behind because I’m not used to run this distance in really important meets. But I’m happy of course with my PB.”

Her time would have placed fifth in Rio, but well behind gold medalist Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas (49.44) and silver medalist Allyson Felix (49.51).

Neither Miller nor Felix was in Friday’s race.

Semenya said on July 15 that she planned to race both the 400m and 800m in Rio, setting a potential anticipated clash with Felix, but she ended up entering just the 800m, as her coach had predicted in the spring.

Full Brussels results are here.

Earlier Friday, Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson won the 100m in 10.72 seconds (video here). Thompson now owns the three fastest times in the world this year — her national-record-tying 10.70 at the Olympic Trials, 10.71 in Rio and 10.72 on Friday.

“Honestly, I wanted faster this year, but OK, I won,” Thompson said, according to the IAAF.

Thompson became the third woman to clock sub-10.75 for the 100m at least three times in one year, joining Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988) and Marion Jones (1998).

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris became the third woman ever to clear five meters in the pole vault, joining 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva and 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr. She then took three attempts at a world-record height of 5.07 meters.

“Next season I’ll try longer poles and adept my grip to a higher grip,” Morris said, according to the IAAF. “If I master this new situation I’m sure I will break the world record soon.”

Morris then sang a line from Anna Kendrick‘s “Cups” in the post-meet news conference.

Shannon Rowbury broke Molly Huddle‘s two-year-old American record in the 5000m, finishing fifth in 14:38.92.

VIDEO: Car beats Kenyan in Diamond League race

Solar-powered car beats Kenyan runner at Brussels Diamond League (video)

Leave a comment

Nicholas Kipkoech, who placed fourth at the Kenyan Olympic Trials 800m, was beaten by a solar-powered car in a “man-versus-machine” 600m race at the Brussels Diamond League meet on Friday.

Kipkoech was caught from behind by the car, which presumably needed much more time than Kipkoech to reach its top speed. Kipkoech appeared to have nearly a 150-meter lead in the early stages.

“It was strange to compete in this race but funny at the same time,” Kipkoech said, according to the IAAF. “I was pleased to have been choosen because it was something new, never done before. I knew the car wasn’t fast in the beginning but felt it was coming too quickly at the end. Losing was not a problem for me: I took a lot of fun and I´m on the podium!”

The car won in 1:13.17, 3.53 seconds ahead of Kipkoech. The world record in the 600m, which is not an Olympic event, is held by American Johnny Gray.

Gray’s time — 1:12.81 — would have beaten the car on Friday.

MORE: Wayde van Niekerk considers sprint double at 2017 Worlds, 100m

Today the machine won! #memorialvandamme #brusselsdl

A post shared by AG Memorial Van Damme (@memorialvandamme) on

Man versus Machine

Justin Gatlin wins in photo finish, Allyson Felix beaten in season finale

Justin Gatlin
AP
Leave a comment

Justin Gatlin barely held off a Qatari sprinter, while Allyson Felix lost to the World champion in the 200m in a possible Rio preview, concluding the top-level track and field season in Brussels on Friday.

Gatlin clocked 9.98 to win the 100m, the same time as Nigerian-born Qatari Femi Ogunode, though the photo finish went to the American in lane five (the first part of the jersey/kit to cross the finish line counts, not the head).

Running into a -0.4 m/s headwind, Gatlin slowed from his five previous 100m races (including first-round and semifinal heats at Worlds) — 9.80, 9.77, 9.83, 9.78, 9.75.

Jamaican Asafa Powell, the former world-record holder who hasn’t finished ahead of Gatlin in a race since 2004, was fifth in 10.04.

Gatlin then skipped the 200m he was originally slated to run a little more than an hour later. Ogunode did not skip that race and won it in 19.97, beating a field that included World 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk (fourth, 20.37).

Gatlin said he withdrew from the 200m because he “felt something” in his right quad after the first 75 meters of the 100m, according to the Diamond League.

“I still went for the warming up of the 200 meter, but my muscles still felt hard so my coach advised not to start,” Gatlin said. “Next season is very important, so I wouldn’t risk an injury.”

Gatlin competed for the first time since he suffered his first defeats in two years at the World Championships, coming second to Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m.

“I remember that I won medals, not that I lost,” Gatlin said of Worlds on Friday, according to the Diamond League.

Full Brussels results are here.

The Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, the World champion, beat Felix, the Olympic champion, in the 200m, solidifying Schippers’ status as Olympic 200m favorite going into 2016.

Schippers clocked 22.12, pulling away slightly from Felix on the straightaway and raising her right arm and right index finger in before crossing the finish line. Felix was second in 22.22.

“It’s quite logical Schippers beat me because I’m not the sharpest 200m runner at the moment,” Felix said, according to the Diamond League. “My switch to the 400m definitely took away some of my speed.”

At Worlds, the former heptathlete Schippers won the 200m title in 21.63, which was .06 faster than Felix’s personal best. Felix chose not to race the 200m at Worlds because the 200m semifinals were the same night as the 400m final, and Felix preferred the 400m.

Felix said after winning the Worlds 400m title that she would definitely race the 200m at the 2016 Olympic trials with hopes of definitely contesting it at the Olympics. She said she may or may not try to run the 400m at the Olympics, too.

The next top-level outdoor international meet will be in the spring. However, top U.S. sprinters could compete in the World Indoor Championships (where they have 60m and 400m but not 100m or 200m) in Portland, Ore., in March.

In other Brussels track action, 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson won the 100m hurdles in 12.63 seconds, leading a U.S. sweep followed by Sharika Nelvis (12.65) and Jasmin Stowers (12.76).

At Worlds, the U.S. entered that event with hopes of sweeping places one through four but finished with zero medals. Harper-Nelson crashed in the Worlds semifinals Aug. 28.

Nelvis owns the fastest time in the world this year (12.34) and Stowers is No. 2 (12.35). Jamaica’s Danielle Williams won the World title in 12.57.

World silver medalist Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas powered past American Francena McCorory in the final straightaway of the 400m in Brussels. McCorory was also passed late in the U.S. Championships final to fail to make the Worlds 400m, despite having the two fastest times in the world for the year going into that final.

In the 400m hurdles, World champion Nicholas Bett of Kenya finished seventh and complained of stomach problems maybe caused by food, according to the Diamond League.

In Brussels field action, Olympic and World champion Christian Taylor outdueled Cuban rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo. Taylor leaped 17.59 meters to Pichardo’s 17.06. At Worlds, Taylor triple jumped 18.21 meters, second all time to Great Britain’s Jonathan Edwards‘ 18.29 meters from 1995.

The 2015 World champion Joe Kovacs, 2011 and 2013 World champion David Storl and 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski had a shot put showdown in Brussels.

None finished in the top two.

Australian Tom Walsh prevailed with a 21.39-meter throw, a distance that would have placed fifth at Worlds. Kovacs was third, Storl fourth and Majewski seventh.

Renaud Lavillenie exacted a little revenge against Shawn Barber, clearing 5.95 meters to win the pole vault. The Canadian Barber, who was second with a 5.85-meter clearance, upset the French world-record holder at Worlds.

Colombian two-time World champion Caterine Ibarguen won her 30th straight triple jump competition, according to the track stats website Tilastopaja. Her last loss was the 2012 Olympics, when she earned silver.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Roger Bannister’s sub-4-minute mile shoes auctioned