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Seven U.S. Athletes Take Home Wins At Diamond League Season Opener In Doha

By Craig Bohnert | May 06, 2016, 8:49 p.m. (ET)

Erik Kynard competes in the men's high jump final during the Doha IAAF Diamond League 2016 meet at Qatar Sports Club on May 6, 2016 in Doha, Qatar.

U.S. athletes accounted for seven wins at the first Diamond League meet of the season, held Friday in Doha, Qatar. Each of Friday’s winners began their Diamond League season with a boost, earning 10 points in their respective event’s series-long Diamond Race.

Four American performances were best in the world thus far this season. Leading the way was Tori Bowie in the women’s 100-meter; her time of 10.80 seconds was 0.15 better than the previous world-leading effort of 10.95 by American Jenna Prandini on April 15. Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands was second in a time of 10.83, while Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown was third in 10.91. Bowie’s result also broke the meet record of 10.92, set by Allyson Felix in 2012. Americans Mikele Barber (11.30) and Jeneba Tarmoh (11.41) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

“I gave the race in Doha my everything and the win was mine,” said Bowie, the 2015 world bronze medalist. “This being an Olympic year; I’m eagerly looking ahead to the outdoor season. I feel I’m a much better runner now than I was last season.”

Sandi Morris also had a record performance in women’s pole vault, clearing 4.83 meters, topping the world-leading 4.82-meter effort set by Jennifer Suhr last week. Katie Nageotte finished sixth at 4.53 meters, while Mary Saxer was seventh at 4.43 meters.

“I am so proud of my performance here,” Morris said. “This is the first time I’m taking part in a competition so soon after landing in the city. After a 20-hour flight, I had only a little time to rest. Having been able to put up such a performance after so much is incredible. I loved competing in Doha. I’m always keen to compete in new places, with new cultures. That’s how I’m preparing for the Rio Games because that’s another city I’ve never been to.”

The men’s high jump and triple jump also saw Americans post best-in-the-world results for the Olympic season. Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard cleared 2.33 meters to take the high jump win, leaping past the previous 2016 best of 2.30 he had on Jan. 6. Jesse Williams placed eighth, clearing 2.19 meters.

“I am more experienced and have a different approach,” Kynard said. “I don’t feel the pressure that much, although there are more things to learn. I would have been satisfied even with 2.31 because I am in a season of hard training. I don’t think I could have cleared 2.35 — that’s why I stopped.”

In the triple jump, American-record holder and reigning world champion Christian Taylor flew to a 17.23-meter effort, surpassing the season best 17.11 meters he had two weeks ago. He was 0.16 meters better than China’s Dong Bin, who was second with an effort of 17.07. Cuba’s Alexis Copello was third, going 16.98 meters. Taylor finished first in the 2015 Diamond League standings.

Another meet record fell in the men’s 200-meter, where Ameer Webb hit the tape in 19.85 seconds, marking the first winning 200-meter time under 20 seconds in the meet’s history. The previous record of 20.02 seconds was set in 2012 by Walter Dix, who finished fourth Friday with a time of 20.14 seconds. Isiah Young placed sixth in 20.29 seconds.

LaShawn Merritt, the 2015 Diamond Race runner-up in the men’s 400-meter, won Friday in a time of 44.41 seconds, easily ahead of the 44.68 by Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago. American David Verburg was fourth in 45.54, 0.73 seconds off the podium, with teammate Tony McQuay fifth with at 45.65.

“I feel good. I executed the race as I wanted to,” said Merritt. “All I do is train, building my confidence. I will keep on working hard. I am focusing on my training for the (U.S. Olympic Team Trials) in early July.”

Tia Brooks set a personal best of 19.48 meters to win the women’s shot put, surpassing the 19.22-meter effort of Hungary’s Anita Marton. Michelle Carter finished fifth with a best of 17.83 meters, while Felisha Johnson was eighth, throwing 17.37 meters.

The top six finishers in each event accrue points in the Diamond Race, with the season winners in each event receiving a Diamond Trophy, a cash prize and a wild card for the IAAF World Championships. Points are awarded as follows: First place – 10 points; second place – 6 points; third place – 4 points; fourth place – 3 points; fifth place – 2 points; sixth place – 1 point.

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Tori Bowie

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Erik Kynard

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Christian Taylor

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LaShawn Merritt

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Tia Brooks