Sandi Morris and Michelle Carter showed the world their success at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games wasn’t a fluke by turning in stellar performances at the final Diamond League meet of the 2016 season in Brussels.
Fresh off her silver-medal performance in Rio, Morris won the women’s pole vault Friday by setting a new U.S. women’s outdoor record at 5.00 meters, the best vault in the world this season. Katerina Stefanidi of Greece took second at 4.76 meters, allowing her to win the season-long Diamond Race with 62 points, 32 ahead of Morris.
“In Rio, I was so close to something I really wanted, but today I did more than I expected,” Morris said. “Five meters – that’s a number to be respected. Only three women in history have done it, if you count outdoor and indoor, and I’m one of them. Next season I’ll try longer poles and adapt my grip to a higher grip. If I master this new situation I’m sure I will break the world record soon.”
On Thursday evening, 2016 Olympic champion Carter won the women’s shot put with a top throw of 19.98 meters. New Zealand’s Valerie Adams finished second with an effort of 19.48 meters, locking down the Diamond League title with 58 points, 25 ahead of runner-up Anita Marton of Hungary. Carter finished third for the season. American Brittany Smith finished fourth Thursday, posting a best throw of 18.66 meters.
Shannon Rowbury also set an American record in the women’s 5,000-meter, shaving nearly 10 seconds off her personal best for a time of 14:38.92, which was good for fifth place. Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia won while setting the meet record with her time of 14:18.89.
“My training was way better than when I ran 14:48 (her former personal best), so I knew I could beat the national record,” Rowbury said. “I knew I was the fastest of my little group at the end. In retrospect, maybe I had to follow the leaders.”
The men’s high jump was a duel between 2012 Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, with the Diamond League title on the line. Both cleared a best of 2.32 meters, but Kynard was able to make the height on his second attempt while Barshim was successful on his third try. As a result, Kynard took the Diamond Race title with 46 points, 10 ahead of Barshim.
“This was an extremely tough competition, a real dog fight,” Kynard said. “We knew that the one who would take this meet would come out on top of the Diamond League. It was really nerve-wracking, but I was the lucky one to win in the end.”
Cassandra Tate, the 2015 world bronze medalist, posted a season-best 54.47 seconds in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, giving her the Diamond Race crown with 50 points. Eilidh Doyle of Great Britain, the Diamond Race leader going into Brussels, could muster only a fifth-place finish, which allowed Tate to overtake her for the overall title. Jaide Stepter finished seventh for the U.S., crossing the line in 55.88.
“I knew before the race today that it was still possible to win the Diamond League, but I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself,” Tate said. “I ran a season-best today and I won the Diamond League trophy. This kind of makes up for not being at the Olympics. It’s a great way to end the season.”
Kara Winger recorded a season-best throw of 61.86 meters to take third place in women’s javelin, 4.32 meters behind Madara Palameika of Latvia, who won the event with her effort of 66.18 meters. The victory secured the Diamond Race title for Palameika as well.
Evan Jager’s season-best time of 8:04.01 placed him second in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, only 0.25 seconds behind Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto, whose 8:03.74 gave him the win in Brussels and also nailed down the Diamond Race title for the event. Three Americans finished in the top seven, as Jager was joined by Hillary Bor, who had a personal best 8:13.68 to finish sixth, and Andrew Bayer was seventh in 8:16.21, also a personal best.
In the women’s 400-meter, Courtney Okolo was the top American finisher, reaching the line in 50.51 seconds, 0.11 behind South Africa’s Caster Semenya. Natasha Hastings saw her bid for the Diamond Race fade with her fifth-place finish Friday, which allowed Stephenie Ann McPherson of Jamaica to claim the crown.
Jarrion Lawson finished third in men’s long jump, covering 8.04 meters, 0.44 meters behind the 8.48 meters recorded by South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga.