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Track And Field Stars Tianna Bartoletta And David Oliver Win Big In Season-Long Diamond Race

By Karen Rosen | Sept. 03, 2015, 5:52 p.m. (ET)

David Oliver competes in the men's 110-meter hurdles during the Adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island on June 13, 2015 in New York City.

All that glitters is not just gold for Team USA track and field athletes. It’s now diamonds, too.

Following the recent IAAF World Championships in Beijing – where Team USA won more total medals than any other country (six golds, six silvers and six bronzes) – athletes shifted their attention to the two IAAF Diamond League Finals.

The Weltklasse Zurich on Tuesday was the first, followed by the Memorial van Damme meet in Brussels on Sept. 11.

Long jumper Tianna Bartoletta was the first U.S. athlete to clinch a Diamond Race trophy, as well as the $40,000 prize money and stunning Diamond Trophy. She was also the first repeat winner of the season, having won the Diamond Race last year, too.

Diamond Race events are each staged seven times throughout the 14 Diamond League meets, which began in May. Athletes receive four points for first place, two for second and one for third in all meets but the final, where points are doubled.

Prize money at each meet totals $480,000, with $10,000 for first, $6,000 for second, $4,000 for third, $3,000 for fourth, $2,500 for fifth, $2,000 for sixth, $1,500 for seventh and $1,000 for eighth.

Long Jump Longevity

Tianna Bartoletta competes in the long jump during the Seiko
Golden Grand Prix Tokyo 2015 at Todoroki Stadium on May 10, 2015
in Kawasaki, Japan.

Bartoletta, the newly-crowned world champion (who had won her first world title 10 years earlier in Helsinki), came into the meet with an uncatchable 16 points. However, she did have to compete in Zurich to claim the prize. Bartoletta, who jumped a world-leading 23 feet, 5 ¼ inches on her last attempt in Beijing, placed second in Zurich, trailing Ivana Spanovic of Serbia 23-½ to 22-10 ½. Bartoletta scored four more Diamond League points to finish with 20 while Spanovic was second with 12.

“I am really happy to win the Diamond Race,” said Bartoletta, who won Diamond League long jumps in Doha, Eugene, Oregon, and Lausanne and placed second in Monaco and New York. “It shows that I had a consistent season.”

She said that she sprained her left ankle in the Beijing final on her second attempt.

“Still today I felt a lot of pain,” Bartoletta said. “I will save the prize money. I still have the prize money from last year. I still have not spent it.”

Bartoletta said the competition was her final one of the year, although she and her husband do not know where they will go on holiday.

Clearing Hurdles

David Oliver lost the race, but won the prize in the 110-meter hurdles. Oliver was second in Zurich behind world champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia, 13.14 seconds to 13.30. However, Oliver came in with 12 Diamond League points and Shubenkov only had seven. Oliver, the 2013 world champion, won in Shanghai and New York, was second in Paris and third in Eugene and Stockholm. The Diamond Trophy was surely some consolation for his seventh-place finish in Beijing.

One-Lap Leader

LaShawn Merritt of the U.S. edged rivals Kirani James of Grenada and Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa in the men’s 400-meter to take a giant leap in the Diamond Race standings, but it wasn’t enough. Merritt, the world championships silver medalist, ran 44.18 and scored eight points to finish with 11.

However, James, the world bronze medalist, came in with 10 points and his second-place finish (44.28) – and resulting four points – gave him the trophy.

Van Niekerk, who ran a stunning 43.48 to win the world championships in Beijng before collapsing and being carried off the track, managed only 44.35 and a final tally of 10 points.

“I just wanted to win and that is what I did here,” Merritt said.

Merritt was in command the entire race, holding off James who was closing at the finish.

“Merritt was great tonight,” James said.

Merritt had only three points in his two previous meets, placing second in Eugene and third in Shanghai.

Consistent Throwing

In the women’s shot put, Michelle Carter, the world championships bronze medalist, placed second in Zurich as well as in the Diamond Race behind Christina Schwanitz of Germany. Schwanitz threw 65-4 and Carter 62-8 ¾.

The German finished with 26 points, twice as many as Carter. Carter, the U.S. champ, won one Diamond League meet this season – in London – and also had second-place finishes in Oslo and Stockholm and a third in Paris.

Long Jump Tiebreaker

Marquis Dendy, the U.S. champion in the men’s long jump, was second in Zurich although he and British world champion Greg Rutherford both jumped 27-3 ¾. Rutherford won because his second-best leap was better.

Rutherford also captured the Diamond Race trophy with 21 points while Dendy had 10 to place second. The University of Florida jumper was a late starter in the Diamond League. After his collegiate season, in which he won the NCAA title, Dendy was sixth in Monaco, first in London and second in Stockholm. However, he faltered in Beijing, failing to make the final after only one legal jump in his three qualifying attempts.

Jeff Henderson, the world leader looking to redeem himself after a subpar ninth-place performance in Beijing, placed fourth. He finished sixth in the Diamond Race standings.

Tori Bowie competes in the women's 200-meter final at the adidas
Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Randall's Island on June 13, 2015 in
New York City.

No Sprint Surprise

The finish in Zurich mirrored the Diamond Race standings in the women’s 100-meter.

Tori Bowie, the U.S. champion and world bronze medalist, was third with a time of 11.06. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica capped her remarkable season by clocking 10.93 seconds and amassing 20 Diamond Race points. Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor of Nigeria was second in 10.98, rounding out the season with 12 points.

Bowie had seven points, thanks to second-place finishes in Shanghai and Stockholm and a third in Eugene. Bowie also ran 200-meter races this season, winning the Diamond League In New York and placing second in London.

Near Misses

Georganne Moline was third in Zurich in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, but fourth in the Diamond Race. Shamier Little, the U.S. champion and world silver medalist, is a college student at Texas A&M and did not compete in the Diamond League.

Also placing fourth in the Diamond Race were Evan Jager, who was third in the men’s steeplechase, Jacorian Duffield, who finished seventh in the high jump, Tia Brooks, who was fifth in the shot put and Brenda Martinez, who was eighth in the women’s 800 (and tied three others in the Diamond Race standings).

Next Stop: Brussels

It’s been neck-and-neck in the women’s 100-meter hurdles all season. Dawn Harper-Nelson, Sharika Nelvis and Jasmin Stowers are in a three-way tie with 10 points apiece and will be looking for a diamond-crusted lining to a tough month. No U.S. woman managed to medal in the event in Beijing, with Harper-Nelson stumbling in her semifinal and Nelvis placing eighth in the final. Brianna Rollins was the top U.S. finisher in fourth place. Stowers did not make the world team.

World champion Joe Kovacs will try to win his first Diamond Race trophy in the men’s shot put, while Justin Gatlin will attempt to repeat in the men’s 100.

Allyson Felix, the world champion in the women’s 400-meter, is the leader in the women’s 200, while Bershawn Jackson leads the men’s 400-meter hurdles.

Other events to be concluded in Brussels are the women’s discus throw, women’s triple jump, men’s pole vault, women’s high jump, men’s javelin, men’s triple jump, women’s steeplechase, men’s 800, women’s 1,500, women’s 400 and men’s 5,000.

Related Athletes

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Tianna Bartoletta

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David Oliver III

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LaShawn Merritt

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Michelle Carter

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Georganne Moline

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Evan Jager

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Tia Brooks