The Diamond League competition, the world-wide elite track and field series, got under way for 2018 in Doha overnight with seven Australians in action.
With no outdoor global meets on offer in 2018, the world’s best were in action early in the season and produced fireworks on the track and in field. At the venue which will host the next IAAF World Championships in 2019, two locals, Mutaz Essa Barshim (high jump) and Abderrahman Samba (400m hurdles) shone bright and will carry the hopes of the host in 16 months.
It must have been a frustrating start for Commonwealth Games champion, Dani Stevens (NSW) with three fouls and three 63 metre marks in the discus, topped by 63.59m in round two. Just a further 21 centimetres would have placed her third. The competition was dominated by world champion, Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic who nailed a Diamond League record of 71.38m.
Storming home over the last lap, Australian record holder Ryan Gregson (VIC) looked in close to top form as he hit the home straight just a couple of metres adrift of the leaders. He breasted the tape in 3:37.00 for seventh place, in a race won in only 3:35.07 by Ethopia Taresa Tolosa. Training partner and Commonwealth Games teammate Jordy Williamsz (VIC) was 10th with 3:40.06.
Aussie pair Linden Hall (VIC) and Zoe Buckman (VIC) ran honest races in the women’s 1500m. After running mid-race over the early laps, they were stretched in the kick down, placing 11th and 12th respectively in 4:07.07 and 4:07.25. The race was unusual as the competitors seemed to be waiting for Caster Semenya to take the lead, but she opted to coast around and steam home to victory in the final straight, lowering her own South African record to 3:59.92.
In the men’s javelin, Tasmania’s dual Commonwealth Games medallist Hamish Peacock, struggled to reach his heights from the Gold Coast, hurling the javelin to a best of 76.45m in round three, filling 10th place.
In the last event on the program Commonwealth Games steeplechaser Genevieve LaCaze (VIC) found the early pace difficult, placing 16th in 9:31.14.
The Diamond League circuit moves onto Shanghai next Friday May 12.
This weekend, a contingent of 14 athletes compete in the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships in the Chinese city of Taicang. The first event, featuring Claire Tallent in her 50km walk debut, commences at 10.00am (AEST) Saturday morning.
David Tarbotton and Sean Whipp for Athletics Australia.
Image: Ryan Gregson (getty images)