Ronnie Baker celebrates winning the men's 100-meter at the IAAF Diamond League on July 21, 2018 in London.
The consensus was that they really liked the venue. It seemed to like them, too.
Established and emerging stars of Team USA rounded up four first-place finishes at Saturday’s Diamond League meet at London Stadium, proving victorious in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, men’s 100- and 5,000-meter and men’s pole vault.
All three races featured Americans dueling talented opponents down to the wire. Ronnie Baker continued his Diamond League dominance in the 100, picking up his fourth Diamond League win this season, finishing in 9.90 seconds — just 0.02 seconds off his personal best of 9.88 run in Paris last month — to hold off Zharnel Hughes of Great Britain. Baker returned to the top of the podium after finishing second to Christian Coleman last week in Morocco, ending his undefeated streak.
“In the final, I felt like I stood up at the start, which kind of took away from my transition and how fast I really could go,” Baker said. “I've still got to do a bit of tweaking to sharpen up. There's just small things I need to work on if I am going to get even faster.”
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After victory in Diamond League action in Lausanne, Switzerland, this month, Shamier Little notched her second consecutive win in the 400 hurdles, overcoming Jamaica’s Janieve Russell in a race where the winner was determined by photo finish. Little crossed the line in 53.95 seconds, one one-hundredth of a second faster than Russell.
“I didn’t think I had the win today because it was really tough,” the 2015 U.S. champion and 2015 world silver medalist said. “I put my soul into that lean for all the points. Everyone has to put that extra bit in at the end and it's about who can maintain it.”
2016 Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad was third at 54.86 seconds, outlasting fellow American Georganne Moline, who was fourth in 55.47 seconds.
Kenya-born Paul Chelimo, the silver medalist in the 5,000 at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, held off Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris in another tight finish, his time of 13 minutes, 14.01 seconds beating world champion Edris’ 13:14.35.
Already en route to the Diamond League final, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sam Kendricks picked up his fifth Diamond League win of the season in men’s pole vault, clearing 5.92 meters to finish ahead of rival Renaud Lavillenie of France, the silver medalist from Rio.
In the men’s 400, Paul Dedewo finished second with a personal best of 44.43 seconds, a mark that put him behind only world bronze medalist Abdelleleh Haroun of Qatar. The 27-year-old Dedewo, a newcomer on the international scene, confessed to still feeling shocked by it all.
“I'm in a lane next to Kirani James and he's one of my heroes in athletics. It's one thing to be watching these guys but it's completely different to be racing them,” he said.
The Diamond League series continues in the United Kingdom on Aug. 18, when competition moves north to Birmingham.
Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.