Kerron Clement (L) won the men’s 400-meter hurdles and Joe Kovacs (R) took first in the shot put at the Diamond League meet on July 23, 2016 in London.
Kerron Clement and Joe Kovacs earned Diamond League wins in the final tune-up before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Saturday at the Olympic Stadium in London’s Queen Elizabeth Park.
Clement won the men’s 400-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 48.40 seconds, finishing nearly a quarter-second ahead of Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson, who crossed in 48.63 seconds. Clement, who heads into his third Olympic Games ranked No. 4 in the world, also finished ahead of world No. 2 Yasmani Copello of Turkey, who finished third with a time of 48.70.
“I was patient during the race, and I thank God that I got the win,” Clement said. “I've been working on a strong last few meters all season so I am happy the work has paid off. I need to stay consistent and hold my form heading into the Olympic Games.”
Kovacs continued to cement his status as the Rio gold-medal favorite in men’s shot put by winning with a toss of 22.04 meters. Second-place Tom Walsh of New Zealand had a season-best effort of 21.54 meters, but still was a half-meter behind the reigning world champion. Kovacs, ranked No. 1 in the world, now holds a six-point lead over No. 2-ranked Walsh in the Diamond Race with only two events remaining.
“I'm happy to have got that 22-meter mark,” Kovacs said. “I came into the meet quite confident as leader in the competition, and I really had to make sure Tom Walsh didn't take maximum points off me, he got second today and had some great throws, so I'm pleased to have beat him. I skipped Oslo and Stockholm, so I had to make sure I made those points up.”
Bernard Lagat continued to demonstrate that age is just a number by taking third in the men’s 5,000-meter run in London. Two weeks after earning his fifth Olympic Team selection with a dramatic comeback in the final lap, the 41-year-old posted a season-best time Saturday of 13:14.96, 15.67 seconds behind Great Britain’s Mo Farah, who won with a time of 12:59.29. Lagat, who will become the oldest U.S. runner to compete in the Olympic Games in Rio, finished fourth in the same stadium at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The women’s 200-meter saw Americans finish two-three-four behind Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, who ran a 22.13. Tiffany Townsend posted a time of 22.63 seconds, which matched her season best, while Joanna Atkins and Jeneba Tarmoh followed with times of 22.64 and 22.81 seconds, respectively.
Stephanie Garcia finished second in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a season-best time of 9:26.26, less than five second behind Habiba Ghribi, the world No. 4-ranked Tunisian who posted a time of 9:21.35. Meanwhile, Michael Hartfield placed third in the men’s long jump with a leap of 8.01 meters, 0.10 off the winning jump of 8.11 meters by China’s Xinglong Gao.