Sam Kendricks competes at the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on Oct. 1, 2019 in Doha, Qatar.
Sam Kendricks held off Mondo Duplantis to win the men’s pole vault world title last year in Doha, Qatar, and in the same stadium Friday he came oh-so-close to doing it again.
Alas, Duplantis was able to beat Kendricks on countback in the Diamond League finale to complete the best season ever in the event. Since losing to Kendricks last year, the Swede has set new indoor and outdoor world records without losing a meet. Although both cleared 5.82 meters on Friday, Duplantis won by merit of recording fewer misses.
Kendricks, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time defending world champion, still ended the season ranked No. 2.
Three Americans did win their events in Doha, which marked the fourth and final meeting of the abbreviated 2020 Diamond League season, though this was not the traditional “final” typically held at the end of the season.
Payton Chadwick posted a season-best time for the second week in a row, and this time it was good enough to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles. Chadwick, a 12-time All-American while competing for her hometown Arkansas Razorbacks, lowered her time from last week’s meeting in Rome by .11 seconds to cross the line in 12.78 for her first Diamond League victory. Fellow American Taliyah Brooks was just behind her with a personal-best time of 12.86. The duo placed third and fifth last Thursday in the Italian capital.
Both Americans completed a rare Diamond League double in Doha, with Chadwick also running a personal best in finishing seventh in the 100-meter, and Brooks taking fifth in the women’s long jump. Jamaica’s Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah ran away with the 100 win in 10.87 seconds, followed by Marie-Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast in 11.21 and Kayla White of Team USA in 11.25. Chadwick finished in 11.51 seconds.
“It wasn’t easy running two races,” Chadwick said. “The first part of my performance in the hurdles wasn’t great, but I came back strongly in the second and I ended up winning. I’ve been focusing on running without fans in my training and I guess I am used to it by now. I just want to get back to the hotel and have some rest before heading back home. I’ve got about 26 hours (of) flights to take and then I start preparing for the Olympics.”
Aaron Mallett continued his rise in the hurdles, winning the men’s 110-meter event in a personal-best time of 13.15 seconds, a quarter-second better than second-place Jason Joseph of Switzerland. The former Iowa Hawkeyes star now has the third fastest time of the year and his first Diamond League win. Fellow American Freddie Crittenden was also entered into the race, but he was one of two runners disqualified in subsequent false starts.
“I’ve been preparing for this competition for quite a long time and tonight I just went out to execute what I’ve been training for,” Mallett said. “It wasn’t an issue for me to race in an empty stadium because I’ve mentally prepared for it all along.”
Kahmari Montgomery was the other U.S. winner, holding off Kuwait’s Yousef Karam to win the men’s 400-meter in 45.55 seconds. Fellow American David Kendziera was eighth. A former NCAA and U.S. champion at the distance, Montgomery, who previously ran at the University of Houston, also picked up his first Diamond League win.
After a late start due to the global pandemic, the Diamond League began with two exhibition events in June and July before a shortened season kicked off in mid-August. The schedule featured four regular meetings as well as two more exhibition events.