Doha, 7 March 2016 - On May 6 Doha (Qatar) will play host to the kick-off meeting of the IAAF Diamond League series for a seven successive season and as is always the case a large amount of the world’s elite athletes have chosen to open their outdoor campaign in the Suhaim Bin Hamad stadium. Among them, the reigning Olympic triple jump champions, Christian Taylor and Olga Rypakova, as well as the two-time World champion Caterine Ibarguen.
“Although the Doha 2016 coincides with the athletes’ Olympic preparations and is, as always, held at the beginning of the outdoor season, we have invited and bringing on a large number of Olympic and World Championships medalists, like Christian Taylor, Caterine Ibarguen and Olga Rypakova. This early announcement already shows that the meeting will be of a very high calibre with top athletes competing.
“By having in Doha elite athletes, we raise the awareness for our sport and we continuously engage, inspire and motivate a growing number of young athletes. The recent successful campaign of our national team at the Asian Indoors Championships held in Doha confirm the rapid progress athletics enjoy in Qatar”, stated the Qatar Athletics Federation President Dahlan Al Hamad who also commented on the recent addition of Rabat to the Diamond League calendar:
“I would like to take the opportunity to welcome Rabat and Morocco to the Diamond League family. The ‘International Mohammed VI’ meeting has been quite successful throughout all the years of existence and fully deserves its inclusion to the top-tier one-day events family.”
Taylor, a four-time Diamond Race winner (2012-2015), came a measly 8cm away from breaking the mythical 18.29m world record Jonathan Edwards set way back in 1995. The American reigning Olympic and World Champion, whose 18.21m winning mark last year at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing awarded him his second global title and elevated him to the world’s No. 2 spot, returns to Qatar to snatch his second IAAF Doha Diamond League victory and reclaim the meeting record he lost last year after a dramatic duel “combat” to Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo.
The 2015 triple jump competition in Doha was a real cracker, producing for the first time ever two marks beyond 18m by two different athletes on the same day. Taylor leaped 18.04m a new personal best in his last attempt, but fell short a mere two centimeters of Pichardo’s 18.06m early lead.
“That was a special day for me, as I exceeded 18m for the first time in my career. I am really looking forward to returning to Doha and enjoy the meeting’s favourable conditions which always help athletes reach peak form.
“2016 is a special year with the Olympics ahead on schedule. Triple jump has reached unprecedented heights in recent years, but I am looking for nothing less than a second Olympic gold.
“What better way to start the season, than going after that respectable meeting record. It would be a huge stepping stone in my preparation towards the Olympic Games. But of course, coming out with a Diamond League win would just be an added bonus”, said Taylor who possesses four of the twelve achieved 18m+ jumps in the history of the event (Edwards has also four on his account, Pichardo two, while Kenny Harrison and Teddy Tamgho own one apiece).
The women’s triple jump is not short of high calibre athletes as well. London Olympic champion and recently crowned Asian indoor champion in the Aspire Dome’s track, Olga Rypakova as well as the reigning World Champion Caterine Ibarguen have already signed in for the IDL Doha 2016 and lead a quality line-up which also features the 2015 World Champs silver medallist Hanna Knyazheva-Minenko and the Commonwealth Games champion Kimberly Williams.
31-year-old Rypakova, who returned to action and to medal positions in 2015 (bronze in Beijing) after giving birth to her second child, has yet to lose a triple jump competition in Doha, registering a Diamond League win in 2012 and three indoor victories. In 2010 she claimed the IAAF World Indoor title, while she also grabbed two Asian Indoors gold medals – her maiden in 2008 and a second one in her most recent triumph a few days ago with a new season best jump of 14.32cm.
The Kazakh’s 2010 World Champs winning performance of 15.14m remains her indoor personal best (15.25m outdoors – No. 8 all-time) and the only mark beyond 15m registered on Qatar soil.
London silver medallist Caterine Ibarguen took the baton from the 2012 winner Rypakova to top the Diamond Race rankings over the past three seasons (2013-2015). Since 2013 she has completely dominated the event winning the World title in 2013 in Moscow and in 2015, while she also emerged victorious in 18 Diamond League events.
The 32-year-old triple jumper from Colombia has competed only once before in Doha in 2014, but needed no more visits to claim the meeting record with 14.43m. Her 15.31m personal best ranks her fifth on the all-time lists.
AL-GARNI CLINCHES SECOND SUCCESSIVE 1500m/3000m DOUBLE AS ASIAN INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS CONCLUDE IN DOHA
DOHA – Mohamed Al-Garni of Qatar successfully defended his second title of the weekend to highlight the final day of the 7th Asian Indoor Championships at the Aspire Dome in Doha.
Five more championship records fell on the third day of competition, but it was Al-Garni’s in the 3000 metres, which propelled him to a second successive Asian indoor double-double triumph, that stood out from the rest.
Biding his time behind Bahraini Albert Rop for much of the race, Al-Garni took the lead for good as he entered the back straight for the final time. Unlike the early celebration in Saturday’s 1500 metres that likely cost Al-Garni the Asian record, this time his finish was more subdued: just a raised arm two strides before the finish as he powered through the line in 7:39.23 to equal the fifth fastest time of the year.
"It wasn’t my plan to stay behind Rop, it was his tactic to make me tired after he watched me running the 1500m yesterday," Al-Garni said. "Still I was able to stay close behind him and make the final kick in the last lap."
Al-Garni said he still hasn't decided whether he'll contest the 1500 or 3000 metres at the upcoming World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, USA, or even if he'll compete there at all.
"We still have time to decide," he said, but added, "I feel very strong this year. I have been one hundred prepared focused in my training."
Rop finished just a few strides behind in 7:40.27 with Qatari Said Aden Said taking third with a personal best of 7:44.69 to collect his second bronze in as many days.
Balla Powers to 800m Gold
Qatar’s first gold of the afternoon came in a thrilling men’s 800 metres contest where Abdulrahman Musaeb Balla took the victory as expected.
It was a strong run for the two-time Asian champion who took command from the outset and was never headed en route to a 1:46.92 championships record.
"I wanted to win and set a new area record as well, but I didn’t recover in time after the unsuccessful attempt to beat the Asian record in Stockholm," said Balla, who clocked 1:45.93 in the Swedish capital, 0.7 seconds outside of Yusuf Saad Kamel’s continental mark. "Nevertheless, victory makes me really happy. I expect a very good result in Portland at the World Championships as well as at the Olympics."
Behind him an intense battle ensued.
Qatari teammates Abubaker Haydar Abdalla and Jamal Hairane shadowed Balla, trying to gain and hold position for a host nation sweep. But Mostafa Gholamerza Kordiyani of Iran wouldn't relent. Heading into the the homestretch, first Hairane and then Kordiyani found another gear to overtake Abdalla to finish second and third in 1:48.05 and 1:48.26 respectively.
A similar scenario played out in the women’s race.
Marta Hirpato of Bahrain settled into the leading positions about 80 metres into the race, with Nimal Waliwarsha Arachchige of Sri Lanka and Japan’s Yume Kitamura giving chase. The order remained three-and-a-half laps later with Hirpato powering away to win in 2:04.59 to the Sri Lankan’s 2:04.88. Kitamura was later disqualified for a lane infraction elevating Tatyana Neroznak of Kazakhstan to bronze.
Almandeel Successfully Defends 60m Hurdles Title
Another successful title defence came courtesy of Abdulazeez Almandeel of Kuwait who prevailed in 7.60 in the 60 metres hurdles. His time was his second national record and championships record in as many days and landed him among the season's top-10.
"I am so excited with my time," said Almandeel, who arrived in the Qatari capital with a career best of 7.74. a new national and Championships record. "I feel I can run faster in Portland and secure a place in the final."
His teammate Yaqoub Alyouha, who clocked 7.65, finished second with Zhang Hong Lin (7.73), also of China, in third.
In the women’s contest it took a photo reading to separate Kazakhstan’s hurdling Anastasiyas. The verdict went in favour of Anastasiya Soprunova over teammate Pilipenko by a scant two one-thousandths of a second as each were credited with 8.17.
The penultimate event, the women's 4x400 metres relay, witnessed another Asian record courtesy of Bahrain. The Quartet --Alwa Eid Naser, Uwaseun Yusuf Jamal, Iman Essa Jasim and Oluwakemi Adekoya-- clocked 3:35.07 to eclipse the mark set by an Indian quartet at these championships in 2008.
Qatar won the men's event in 3:08.20, also a championships record, more than three seconds clear of runners-up Iran.
Elsewhere, Favourite Svetlana Radzivil won the women’s high jump at 1.92m, ahead of teammate Nadiya Dusanova (1.88m) to lead a 1-2 finish for Uzbekistan.
Akihiko Nakamura won the men’s heptathlon to capture Japan’s first gold of the championships, tallying 5831 points. China’s Hu Yufei (5745) was second with Marat Khaaydarov (5619) of Uzbekistan third.
Zhang Yaoguang of China won the long jump with 7.99m ahead of India’s Prem Kumar Kumaravel (7.92m) and Ming Tai Chan (7.85m) of Hong Kong.
Liu Yang, also from China, was the winner in the men’s shot put with a 19.30m toss.
Qatar topped the gold medal standings with six, followed by China with five, and Kazakhstan with four. China won 13 medals in all, followed by Qatar and Kazakhstan with 10 apiece.