Thursday was the “lull” day in this weeks track and field action. In a week sandwiched between the awesome Pre Classic and will end with NCAA finals and what is promising to be an exciting meet in New York, yesterday was rather lacking.
We did get Usain Bolt’s seasonal 200 debut in Oslo – a race he won in 19.86 to take the world lead. But the time was only slightly better than countryman Nickel Ashmeade’s previous WL (19.95), and the field he competed against was less than stellar with Saidy Ndure (NOR, 20.43), Mario Forsythe (JAM, 20.49) running times that wouldn’t have won NCAA qualifying heats in Des Moines. Which sort of sums up the Oslo leg of the Diamond League – less than stellar.
The days best event was the women’s 5000 – aptly called the Grete Waitz Memorial. Any time you have Meseret Defar (ETH) in a race you know it’s going to be quick, and this one was as she won in 14:37.32 leading a deep and fast finish where nine women broke 15 minutes. Giving it a run as the best event of the meet was the women’s 800 where Halima Hachlaf (MOR) outkicked an outstanding field to win in a world leading 1:58.27 with Mariya Savinova (RUS, 1:58.44) and Caster Semenya (RSA, 1:58.61) right behind – in a field where 8th place went in 1:59.97!
As with Bolt’s 200 win, there were a few other notable individual results, such as Amantle Montsho’s (BOT ) 400 win (50.10) and Paul Koech’s (KEN) Steeple win (8:01.83, WL) but overall the fields were just not up to Oslo, and what should be Diamond League, standards – similar to what happened last year with New York following a few days after Rome. As I stated last year, the Diamond League has to be more careful in scheduling it’s meets here in the US in conjunction with those in Europe. Only leaving a few days for travel and acclimation just doesn’t seem to fit with the elite athlete’s schedules.
Speaking of schedules, the NCAA has had to alter the schedule for today because of Lightning in Des Moines yesterday. An exciting long jump final had to be stopped midway as did the decathlon, and the 4 x 400 relay qualifying. A shame as the long jumpers were on an awesome roll with Makusha (FlSt, 27’ 5.75”), Forbes (LSU, 27’ 0”) and Claye (26’ 11) headed towards their final jumps.
Time for the finals! With the NCAA finals on tap AND New York tomorrow, the next two days should see some HOT action!