Gong and Lyu channel China Power as McLeod hits historic hat-trick
The world champion delighted the dedicated ‘China Power’ section of superfans as she won by more than a metre over Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Danniel Thomas-Dodd.
Gong was already more than a metre ahead of the field after the first round and extended her lead in the second with season’s best and world leading throw of 19.99m.
With the crowd willing her on, the 20m barrier beckoned, but Gong fell just short with her final effort of 19.85m.
“Today's competition was good,” she said. “I intended to break 20 metres, and it's a pity that I couldn’t manage to.”
American Raven Saunders was third while New Zealand’s double Olympic champion, Valerie Adams, could only place eighth with a best of 18.01m.
Lyu unleashes meeting record
Gong’s victory may have been China's first of the evening, but it was not the last as LYU Huihui unleashed a meeting record of 66.85m in the women's javelin to delight the home fans again at the end of the programme.
The world bronze medallist was 70cm short of her Asian record but she still dominated the contest with two other throws beyond any of her competitors.
The closest of those was Poland’s Marcelina Witek with 64.49m, while Turkey’s young hopeful Eda Tugsuz was third.
Fittingly, Lyu paid tribute to four-time winner Gong after her second Shanghai Diamond League victory and looked forward to matching her compatriot’s record in the future.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Gong Lijiao,” she said. “I am looking forward to the challenges and hopefully I can keep improving myself in the coming months.”
Historic win for emotional McLeod
While it was four wins for Gong, it was three from three for Omar McLeod who lived up to his promise to make athletics history in the famous stadium by completing the meeting’s first ever sprint hurdles hat-trick.
The world and Olympic champion shrugged off the injury niggles that have dogged his year so far to win a third straight Shanghai title in 13.16, a time that takes him to a share of first place on this year’s world list.
The warm, muggy night had filled with drops of cooling rain by the start of the men’s 110m hurdles, a traditional highlight of the Shanghai meeting, leaving the track wet and slippery.
But McLeod was determined from the gun and had a winning lead by half way. Spain’s Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega closed the gap over the last two barriers but the Jamaican had enough in the tank to hold on for the precious third victory.
It is a feat not even McLeod’s boyhood hero Lui Xiang could achieve in his hometown stadium and McLeod was rightly thrilled to “three-peat” at his favourite meeting.
“I was overcome with emotion,” said the 24-year-old. “I have been battling a lot of injuries this winter – a hamstring strain, shin splints and a month ago I picked up a slight adductor problem.
“Today I was running on blind trust. So it was great to come out here and complete the three-peat. This meet loves the hurdles and their hurdlers.”
For the record, Ortega clocked 13.17 while Sergey Shubenkov was third in 13.27.
Jumpers excel with world leads
There were more world leads in the horizontal jumpers as Caterine Ibarguen and Luva Manyonga enjoyed their expected victories, albeit in contrasting fashion.
Ibarguen leapt to the top of the 2018 triple jump world list with 14.80m, matching McLeod with a third straight Shanghai victory. The Colombian Olympic champion stamped her authority on the contest in the third round with a world leading jump of 14.66m and extended that by 14cm with her final effort.
“It was an incredible meeting today. I feel excellent because of my status, the environment and the passionate audience,” said the delighted Ibarguen afterwards.
Jamaican pair Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams filled spots two and three, respectively, Ricketts 25cm back in the runner-up spot.
While Ibarguen dominated, Manyonga left it late before inflicting long jump heartache on China’s Shi Yuhao who had held the lead since round two. Trailing on countback after five attempts, Manyonga somehow pulled out his best when it mattered most, cutting the drenched sand at 8.56m.
Shi put everything into his last effort as he attempted to salvage victory but was left distraught in the pit clutching his right leg in pain.
Su so nearly
There was more disappointment for China in the men’s 100m when Su Bingtian at first appeared to have produced a decisive victory in defence of his Shanghai crown only to find that Britain’s Reece Prescod was given the nod by a hundredth after a photo-finish.
Su had world champion Justin Gatlin alongside him on the start line and blasted clear from the gun in pursuit of a glorious meeting climax for the rain-drenched fans.
Gatlin slipped in the blocks and was well beaten as Su crossed the line, arm raised in triumph. But Prescod had sneaked up unseen in lane nine and dipped ahead of the Chinese record holder in 10.04, a fraction outside his best.
“When I saw the rain tonight I thought, 'yes',” said Prescod, who ran 10.03 to place seventh in the World Championship final last year. “I train in these conditions all the time in the East Midlands (of England). It suits me. It is definitely the happiest moment in my time on the Diamond League circuit.”
“I was a little bit surprised that I was not the champion,” admitted Su. “I still felt amazing about the competition and I was glad to compete with the world-class competitors.”
Su’s teammate Xie Zhenye was third in 10.17 with another Briton, Chijindu Ujah fourth. Gatlin faded to seventh at the end in 10.20.
Distance delight for world leading trio
World leads came thick and fast in the distance events as Kenyan pair Timothy Cheruiyot and Beatrice Chepkoech won the men’s 1500m and women’s steeplechase respectively, while Bahrainian Birhanu Balew triumphed in the 5000m.
Cheruiyot crept past Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera in the last few strides to clock 3:31.48 while Balew won in 13:09.64 after a nine-man burn-up over the last lap.
The 22-year-old scored the biggest win of his young career when he overhauled Olympic silver medallist Paul Chelimo at the end, while world champion Muktar Edris was outkicked in the chaos and could only finish fifth.
As for Chepkoech, she benefited from the wet conditions when her compatriot Norah Jeruto slipped on the greasy track in the home straight after the pair had broken free before the final lap.
Chepkoech jogged through the line in 9:07.27 while Jeruto picked herself up to take second.
Four more meeting records
Brilliant sprinting yielded meeting records for a pair of Bahamians in the form of their lives as Steven Gardiner backed up his world lead from Doha with victory over Commonwealth champion Isaac Makwala in 43.99, and Shaunae Miller-Uibo outclassed a classy field to win the women’s 200m in 22.06.
World champion Dafne Schippers was second in 22.34 with Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson third ahead of Doha’s impressive 100m winner, Marie-José Ta Lou.
Another meeting record fell in the women’s sprint hurdles which saw four American fill the first four spots, topped by Olympic champion Brianna McNeal who dipped ahead of Sharika Nelvis leaving world record holder Kendra Harrison in third.
McNeal’s time of 12.50 was a touch outside her world lead but she was pleased to get revenge on Harrison after taking the runner-up spot in Doha.
Wycliffe Kinyamal also saw the ‘MR’ figures after his name when he scored the first Diamond League win of his young career in the 800m.
Kinyamal, who won the Commonwealth title last month, ran quicker than ever before to dip ahead of fellow Kenyan Jonathan Kitilit in 1:43.91.
Forty up for unbeaten Lasitskene
World high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene notched up victory number 40 to extend her amazing win-streak towards the two-year mark. Lasitskene has leapt above 2.00m 22 times since she her unbeaten run began in June 2016, although she couldn’t quite add another this evening.
A first-time clearance at 1.97m was enough to see off the threat of Bulgaria’s Olympic silver medallist Mireva Demireva.
While it was routine stuff for Lasitskene, it was anything but for pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who suffered a shock defeat when he failed to rise above 5.46m.
That left world record holder Renaud Lavillenie to take a count-back victory over Piotr Lisek at 5.81m with China’s Xue Changrui third.
Finally, Dalilah Muhammad enjoyed the narrowest of victories in the women’s 400m hurdles when she defeated Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Janieve Russell by one hundredth in 53.77, a season’s best for the Olympic champion.