(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Chinthana Wasala |
Doha: World champion Noah Lyles and sprinter Gabrielle Thomas claimed emphatic victories as the Diamond League season kicked off with the action-packed Ooredoo Doha Meeting at the windy Suheim Bin Hamad Stadium, yesterday.
American Lyles, with a wind-aided 19.72-second run in men's 200m, saw off his compatriot and Olympic 100 metres silver winner Fred Kerley, who ended runner-up with a time of 19.75. Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago took a surprise third spot after clocking 20.15 as reigning Olympic champion Andre de Grasse of Canada slipped to fourth.
“I perform better under pressure. The crowd makes me excited. Actually, I feel good and satisfied about my position right now. My plan for the World Championship is to win, to always win,” a jubilant Lyles said after the race in front of a full house yesterday.
Lyles' time was well over his own meeting record mark of 19.83, but the + 2.1 tailwind at the Doha capital prevented his time from going into the record books.
Meanwhile, Thomas was too good in the women's 200m as she equaled her compatriot Allison Felix's meeting record when she clocked her seasonal best of 21.98 secs.
“I was nervous, but I feel great now. It is such a great feeling to compete here with the crowd. It gives me good energy. It is beautiful to be here in Doha,” said Thomas.
Tokyo Olympics bronze winner, Jamaican Shericka Jackson came second in 22.07 secs while British sensation Dina Asher-Smith finished third in 22.37 secs.
Meanwhile, home favourite Abderrahman Samba pulled out of men's 400m hurdles with a hamstring injury, with Olympic bronze medallist, Alison dos Santos of Brazil, claiming the win after shocking American Rai Benjamin with a time of 47.24. Benjamin finished second in 47.49 secs while Irishman Thomas Barr came third in 49.67.
“This is my third time here in Qatar. I love the crowd. It gives me motivation. I feel proud. We prepared well and we started the season fast, and I'm always trying to improve and be better,” Santos said after posting a world lead and a meeting record.
There was another surprise in the women's 400m when Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo only managed to finish third behind Olympic silver medallist Marileidy Paulino and former Diamond League champion Stephenie Ann-McPherson.
Dominican Paulino stopped the clock at 51.20 seconds while Jamaica's Mcpherson came second in 51.69, overtaking the Bahamian Miller-Uibo (51.84) in the last five metres.
The men's 1500m also saw an upset, with three-time Diamond Trophy winner and reigning champion Timothy Cheruiyot coming second behind fellow Kenyan Abel Kipsang who won the race in 3:35.70.
US athlete Kendra Harrison won the women's 100m hurdles in 12.43 secs while Nigerian Tobi Amusan and Jamaica's Britany Anderson came joint second in 12.44.
“Races are very exciting. Everybody is fast. Honestly we were so close. The crowd is awesome. After COVID it's good to be with the crowd here. The goal (for me at the World Championship) is to get gold. I just prepare for the events which are coming up, and I try to fix my stats to improve,” Harrison said.
Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba (women's 3000m - 8:37.70), Kenya's Noah Kibet (men's 800m - 1:49.08) and Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco (Men's 3000m steeplechase - 8:09.66) were also victorious in the track events yesterday.
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