The official 2022 season for track and field kicked off with the first Wanda Diamond League of the season in Doha on Friday (13). The athletes had a busy winter schedule with world indoor championships and multiple invitational and road races going on.
However, traditionally diamond league opener has always been the season starter. Number of big names such as Armand Duplantis, Abderrahman Samba, Dina-Asher Smith were present to entertain the ever-jovial spectators of Doha. Let us take a look at the key highlights of the evening.
‘Doha can get breezy’
The biggest talking point of the meet was ‘the wind’. The eagerly anticipated men’s pole vault had to be cancelled due to high winds in Doha. The breeze was perceived to be dangerous to the safety of the athlete. The venue for men’s javelin throw was changed post pole vault cancellation. The athletes were given an opportunity to throw with the wind.
World champion Anderson Peters threw a humongous 93.07 meters which is the 5th highest all-time throw ever. Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch of the Czech Republic also threw 90.88 meters to clinch a silver. Noah Lyles fantastic 200 mts with a timing of 19.72 was not held valid as the wind assistance notched +2.1 m/sec.
‘Niyonsaba is still the boss lady’
Francis Niyonsaba, the former 800 mts athlete who shifted to distance running due to her increased testosterone had raised eyebrows in the post-Olympic season previous year. She continued her impressive performance in Doha by defeating the Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon with an impressive timing of 8:37.70.
‘Brazier’s search for form continues’
The men’s 800 mts was clinched by the impressive 18 year old Noah Kibet, followed by Peter Bol of Australia and Marco Arop from Canada. Donovan Brazier could not keep up with the leaders and again failed to make a mark. The season starter has not gone as per the plans for the reigning champion.
Donovan carries good memories of Doha where he won the world championship 3 years ago but failed to replicate a performance anywhere near the same.
‘Someone goes past Rai Benjamin… And it’s not Warholm’
The Olympic silver medallist Rai Benjamin who had an epic showdown for ages with Karsten Warholm in Tokyo bags silver in Doha this time around. The man who took the gold is the ever- improving 21 year old Allison Dos Santos of Brazil.
Santos breaks the meet record and sets a world lead with a timing of 47.24 sec. It will be interesting to see how the form of these two proceed before the epic showdown in Oregon.
‘Gabriella Thomas all set to challenge big girls’
The third fastest women over 200M in history Gabriella Thomas equalled the meeting record of Alison Felix (20.98). She finished ahead of Shericka Jackson (22.07). and reigning world champion Dina-Asher Smith. Cometh Oregon it seems Thomas will be already to take it up against the top seeds.
‘Crowd is as jubilant as ever’
How can we finish talking about a meet without talking about the fans?
Diamond league witnesses’ variety of crowds in various countries. From the professional crowds of Birmingham to cheerful crowds of Poland, we witness diversified group of people who make the evening vibrant and memorable. But the crowds in Doha always standout.
The important reason being the presence of fans across the world. Doha, has number of expatriate workers from African countries who never miss an opportunity to cheer their stars.
Then there are locals who make it to stadium at least to witness their stars such as Samba and Barshim.
Friday was no different, the fans enjoyed every moment while it lasted and marked the start of what could be an extremely exciting period of track and field actions.