Birhanu Balew

Shelby Houlihan stars, Noah Lyles outduels Michael Norman in Lausanne (video)

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Noah Lyles and Michael Norman were supposed to author the race of the year at the Diamond League meet in Lausanne on Thursday, but the most impressive performance of the night came from Shelby Houlihan.

Houlihan, an Olympic 5000m runner who has surged in the 1500m this season, won her third straight major 1500m, lowering her personal best by 1.72 seconds, clocking 3:57.34 and beating a field that included Caster Semenya. Houlihan kicked from fourth place with 150 meters left, while Semenya was already out of it, finishing sixth.

In all, Houlihan has dropped her 1500m personal best by 6.05 seconds in the last month and a half, winning the Prefontaine Classic on May 26 and the USATF Outdoor Championships on June 23.

“I didn´t have many expectations coming into the race today and was actually a bit worried as I was not feeling very well,” Houlihan said, according to race organizers. “I had to talk to myself during the race to stay in a comfortable position and the incredible crowd here brought my home during the last 200 meters.”

Houlihan is now the fourth-fastest U.S. woman in history in the 1500m behind Shannon RowburyMary Slaney and Jenny Simpson.

Minutes after Houlihan crossed the line, Lyles matched his personal best and the fastest time in the world this year to win the 200m in 19.69 seconds. Norman was second in 19.88.

“Yesterday I said I want to be an icon, being consistent is the first step towards that,” Lyles said. “19.69 is great, but you can always improve. I feel I can do a lot better. I need to improve my technique on the bends and who knows. I don’t want to put a limit on myself. My life goals are big. I want to be as good if not better than Michael Johnson and Justin Gatlin.”

Lyles and Norman raced each other for the first time since they finished fourth and fifth in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m as 18-year-olds. Both were undefeated in outdoor 200m races since trials, though neither raced at 2017 Worlds.

Full Lausanne results are here.

The Diamond League next moves to Rabat, Morocco, on July 13 with live coverage on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold.

In other events, Marie-Josée Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire continued her undefeated season in the 100m, winning in 10.90 seconds. Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was second in 10.99, while U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs did not start in what would have been her senior international debut.

In the men’s 5000m, Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha nearly pulled countryman Selemon Barega down by his shorts coming around the final turn. Kejelcha failed and ended up falling himself. Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew won in 13:01.09, the fastest time in the world this year.

Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi cleared 4.82 meters in the pole vault to beat 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr on count back. Seven women cleared 4.72 meters in a competition for the first time in history, according to the IAAF’s Jon Mulkeen.

Russian Sergey Shubenkov beat Olympic and world 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica for the second time this week, clocking 12.95 seconds. McLeod was fifth in 13.41. Shubenkov has the four fastest times in the world this year and is the only man to break 13 seconds in 2018.

U.S. champion Shamier Little won the 400m hurdles over a field that included Olympic gold and bronze medalists Dalilah Muhammad and Ashley Spencer. Little clocked 53.41, well off the fastest time in the world this year held by Sydney McLaughlin (52.75), who was not in the Lausanne field.

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Justin Gatlin runs his slowest career Diamond League 100m (video)

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Justin Gatlin ran the slowest Diamond League 100m of his career, recording his worst 100m result in years, if ever, as one of several American stars handed defeat in Shanghai on Saturday.

Gatlin, the 36-year-old who beat Usain Bolt for the 2017 World 100m title, clocked 10.20 seconds for seventh place into a slight headwind in rainy conditions Saturday. Great Britain’s Reece Prescod won in 10.04.

Gatlin’s slowest previous 100m time in 28 Diamond League starts dating to 2011 was 10.14 into a stronger headwind in Doha last year. Gatlin had never finished seventh or worse in a 100m in his career, according to Tilastopaja.org.

“I got stuck in the little in the blocks tonight, and I just had too much ground and distance to make up,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF.

Full Shanghai results are here.

In other events, world-record holder Kendra Harrison lost a Diamond League 100m hurdles for the first time since 2015, ending an 11-race win streak. She finished third in 12.56, trailing Olympic champion Brianna McNeal (12.50) and Sharika Nelvis (12.52).

In the pole vault, world champion Sam Kendricks of the U.S. shockingly failed to clear 5.61 meters, finishing ninth, his worst placement since the 2015 World Championships. World-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France went on to win after clearing 5.81.

American Paul Chelimo fell at the finish line in a failed attempt to win his first international race in a deep 5000m. The Olympic silver medalist led for the entire final lap until Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew edged ahead in the final 20 meters. Balew prevailed in 13:09.64, .02 ahead of Chelimo, who looked over his shoulder several times before being passed.

In the long jump, world champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa recorded a sixth and final jump of 8.56 meters to overtake Chinese 19-year-old Shi Yuhao. Olympic champion Jeff Henderson of the U.S. was fourth.

Olympic 400m champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo took the 200m in 22.06, beating a field that did not include Olympic gold and bronze medalists Elaine Thompson and Tori Bowie.

Jamaican Omar McLeod won in his first 110m hurdles race since adding the 2017 World title to his Olympic gold. He clocked 13.16 seconds, edging Olympic silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain by .01.

Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad held off Jamaican Janieve Russell by .01 in the 400m hurdles, clocking 53.77. The race lacked world champion Kori Carter and 18-year-old Sydney McLaughlin, the fastest in the world this year at 53.60.

Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas took the men’s 400m in 43.99, his second sub-44 clocking in the last week. Gardiner is the only man to break 44 seconds this year. Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor finished fifth in 45.24 as he focuses on the 400m with no world championships this year, hoping to break 45 seconds.

The Diamond League next moves to Eugene, Ore., for the Prefontaine Classic, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on May 25-26.

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