As is typical of early-season meets, world leads seemed to be falling in nearly every event. What was most exciting was that not everything went according to plan. Barshim did not win the high jump; Kemboi nor Birech won the steeple.
Women's Pole Vault
Sandi Morris continued a solid 2016 after a strong indoors in which she took silver at the world championships. She tied a Diamond League record when she cleared her first attempt at 4.83. After no one else was able to match that height, Morris had the bar raised to 4.93 in an attempt to pass fellow American Jen Suhr for the American Record and second highest vault of all time. She was ultimately unable to do better than move into a tie for 6th all time, but that should be plenty satisfying for the first Diamond League competition of the season.
Dafne Schippers got off to a poor start and was never able to recover as Tori Bowie won in 10.80, which is by far the fastest time of the season. She got off to a great start, and although Schippers looked ready to overtake her about 70m in, Bowie had enough to hold off the world silver medalist for the win. Bowie finished third to Schippers' second last summer in Beijing. She'll look to flip the script in Rio later this summer.
It was the Asbel Kiprop show wire-to-wire as he was alone with the pacers from the gun. A look at the results shows that he only won by 1.52 seconds, but that suggests that there might have been some suspense in this race. The competition only got close because Kiprop spent the last 100m of the race waving to the crowd.
Runs a WL. Still has time to wave.@KipropAsbel pic.twitter.com/gChwPmkmn5— SPIKES (@spikesmag) May 6, 2016
There appeared to be a threat of a meet record (3:29.18) after Kiprop came through 1100 in 2:35, but there was no one there to make Kiprop do it as he cruised to victory. It's not entirely clear if he will ever be really challenged this year. And, honestly, from watching him race, it's unclear if he has ever felt challenged in his life.
We asked in the meet preview whether Walter Dix had enough in him to contend for a spot on the US Olympic Team. After today's shake of the magic eight-ball, the his likelihood is looking much less optimistic after he finished fourth behind Ameer Webb, Alonso Edward, and Femi Ogunode. Age is not in the favor of the 30 year old Dix and the emergence of Webb will make it very difficult for him to make the team.
Second to the women's 3000m this figured to be the event of the meet with Caster Semenya going against Eunice Sum. Semenya entered with the fastest time of 2016 that she set running against no competition at the South African championships. Against real competition, Semenya held back a bit as she came through 400m in 4th or 5th. Coming off the final turn, she proved that she should be considered a favorite for the gold medal in Rio. She smoked the competition and won in 1:58.26, nearly a second better than second place. It would be fun to see what Semenya could do in a fast race because she made today's 1:58 performance look pedestrian.
The most anticipated event of the evening ended up as probably the most exciting, but not because it was close. Almaz Ayana held the lead from the start after she was the only runner in the field who went out with the pacers and never relinquished the lead over the actual field. The only moment of doubt came about 1600 meters in, immediately before the second pacer dropped out. The pacer slowed down a little bit, which allowed the field, led by Mercy Cherono to pull up right on Ayana's heels. As soon as the pacer got out though, Ayana opened up the gap again and ultimately won by over 3 seconds. Before the meet, she had a claim as the best non-Dibaba woman in the world and that claim got a little stronger tonight after beating this field.
The Diamond League will continue next week in Shanghai.