Olympic and world champion Christian Taylor certainly knows how to rise to a challenge.
The 28-year-old from Georgia held off Cuban challenger Pedro Pablo Pichardo in the men’s triple jump, winning by a centimeter at Thursday’s Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland. Taylor’s best jump of 17.62 just beat his rival’s 17.61, as American Chris Benard was third with a jump of 16.92.
“What can I say about today?” said Taylor, the triple jump champ at the past two Olympic Summer Games, who also has three world titles to his name. “Well, I like to be positive: It is a victory, it means Diamond League points, and with this I am now in the Diamond League final.”
Those performances were among a number of showstoppers by the Americans at the eighth stop on the Diamond League tour. In total, U.S. athletes won four events and were top-three in six others.
In the final race of the day – and what was touted as the biggest matchup of the season – Noah Lyles equaled his personal best and world-leading time in the men’s 200-meter with a time of 19.69 seconds. Lyles, who also won in Doha and Eugene this season, edged teammate Michael Norman, who finished in second with a time of 19.88 seconds. The first showdown between the two 20-year-olds this season pitted two of America’s best at the distance and should be one of many matchups as the hopefuls, who just missed the 2016 Olympic team, take aim at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
In the women’s 400-meter hurdles, U.S. champion and 2015 world silver medalist Shamier Little ran the second-fastest time in the world this year to take the top spot. Little, who just won her second U.S. title in the event at the USATF Outdoor Championships less than two weeks ago, ran a season’s best 53.41 seconds to edge Jamaica’s Janieve Russell, who ran in 53.46 seconds. In a final stacked with Americans, Georganne Moline also ran a season’s best 53.90 to come in third, while reigning Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad was fourth, Ashley Spencer was fifth and Cassandra Tate was seventh.
The other American win came in the women’s 1,500. Olympian Shelby Houlihan, who last month became just the second U.S. woman to win the 1,500 and 5,000 national titles in the same year, ran at a blazing pace to win with a new personal best time of 3:57.34, also a new meet record and the fourth fastest time ever by an American.
American women also dominated the field in the 400-meter, where it was a 2-3-4 finish for similar results to Saturday’s meet in Paris. Again it was Jessica Beard who was the fastest among the Americans, coming in second with a time of 50.40 seconds, behind only Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser in 49.78 seconds. Shakima Wimbley was third with a time of 50.58 followed by Jaide Stepter in fourth. Courtney Okolo was eighth.
U.S. men’s 110-meter hurdles champion Devon Allen was second on Thursday with a time of 13.29 seconds, just slightly slower than the season’s-best 13.23 seconds he ran to come in third in Paris five days earlier.
Olympian Ajee Wilson also earned a second-place finish in the women’s 800-meter. She closed in on winner Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi in the last 50 meters, but Niyonsaba held on for a time of 1:57.80 followed by Wilson in 1:58.20.
Jennifer Suhr, the 2012 Olympic champ, came in second in the women’s pole vault. She and Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi both finished at 4.82 m, but Stefanidi won on countback. Olympic and world silver medalist Sandi Morris was fourth.
Jeron Robinson was third in the men’s high jump (2.29 m) followed by 2017 national champion Bryan McBride in fourth.
Olympian Jenna Prandini was third in the women’s 100-meter with a time of 11.00 seconds.