Dos Santos and Bednarek take down meeting records in Doha

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June 24,2024
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Dos Santos and Bednarek take down meeting records in Doha

Doha: Alison dos Santos and Kenny Bednarek produced the standout performances of the Seashore Group Doha Meeting as both men smashed meeting records in the Qatari leg of the Wanda Diamond League on Friday (10).

If Dos Santos was looking for a confidence-boosting performance at the start of an Olympic season, the Brazilian certainly delivered. He had set the previous meeting record of 47.24 here two years ago in a season when he went on to win the world title with a championship record of 46.29.

Towards the end of that year, however, he was struck with injury and spent most of the off season – and first half of 2023 – rehabbing his way back to competitive form. He went on to clock a season’s best of 47.38 and finish fifth at the World Championships in Budapest, but it was clear he wasn’t firing on all cylinders.

But tonight in the Qatari capital, the 23-year-old made a clear statement that he’s back to his smooth-striding best.

Drawn in lane five, Dos Santos took an early lead, helped by having the fast-starting CJ Allen to chase down in the lane outside him. As they came off the final bend and the stagger unwound, Dos Santos breezed past the US hurdler and went on to open up a significant lead down the home straight.

He crossed the line in 46.86, winning by more than one-and-a-half seconds from Allen (48.39). France’s Wilfried Happio was further back in third (49.10).

It’s Dos Santos’s fastest ever season opener, and the fastest time ever recorded before the month of June.

"This is a very good way to start things – I'm very excited," said Dos Santos. "It's going to be a tough year, so to start in this fashion is very positive."

The winds that had been whipping around the stadium earlier in the evening dipped slightly just before the men’s 200m got under way. USA’s Courtney Lindsey got off to a strong start, but Bednarek caught his compatriot before the half-way stage and was really starting to motor.

Bednarek, the 2022 world silver medallist, pulled ahead of the rest of the field with each powerful stride down the home straight, and crossed the line a clear winner in a PB of 19.67, smashing Noah Lyles’ six-year-old meeting record by 0.15.

Lindsey was a distant second in 20.01 and Kyree King made it a US 1-2-3 by placing third in 20.21.

“I knew I was ready to run a world lead, I was just hoping that the wind would work with us,” said Bednarek. “Running fast this early in the season is a good sign. But times don’t matter – my main goal this year is to win the Olympic title.”

The wind was both a help and a hindrance in the men’s long jump. World indoor bronze medallist Carey McLeod sailed out to a winning leap of 8.52m in round four – the longest jump of his career in any conditions – but the 5.2m/s tailwind meant it wouldn’t count as a PB or meeting record.

Nevertheless, it gave the Jamaican a confidence-boosting victory over world and Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou, who ended the evening with a wind-legal season’s best of 8.36m (1.9m/s) in the final round. Swiss decathlete Simon Ehammer was third with a wind-assisted 8.30m.

Slovenia’s 2022 world champion Kristjan Ceh found the conditions to his liking in the men’s discus. The 25-year-old, who was making his outdoor season debut, opened his campaign with 65.51m but trailed Australia’s Matt Denny, who launched his discus out to 69.02m with his first throw.

Denny held the lead up until round four when Ceh unleashed a mammoth throw of 70.48m, just 41cm behind his own meeting record, to steal the victory.

The men’s javelin has been the source of several enthralling contests in Doha in recent years, and tonight was no different.

World and Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra, the winner in Doha last year, was up against two-time world champion Anderson Peters, the Doha winner in 2022. But it was Diamond League champion Jakub Vadlejch – the runner-up in Doha for the past two years – who took an early lead, opening his series with 85.87m.

The Czech thrower improved to 86.93m in round two, then extended his lead with 88.38m in round three. Chopra moved into second place with an 86.24m effort in round three, putting him ahead of Peters (85.75m). But in the final round, the Indian sent his spear flying well beyond the 85-metre line. Seconds later his distance was confirmed: 88.36m, just two centimetres shy of Vadlejch’s lead.

Peters also improved in the final round, the Grenadian throwing 86.62m to consolidate his third-place finish.

The finishes were similarly close in both the women’s 100m flat and hurdles.

European bronze medallist Ditaji Kambundji came from behind to win the 100m hurdles. The Swiss 21-year-old came off the final hurdle well to propel herself past USA’s Tonea Marshall, winning in 12.49. In a race where 0.05 separated the top four finishers, Marshall was second in 12.51 and Poland’s Pia Skrzyszowska was third in 12.53.

In the women’s 100m flat, Britain’s Darryl Neita edged ahead of USA’s Tamari Davis to win by 0.01 in a season’s best of 10.98. Celera Barnes was a close third in 11.02.

And in the final race of the night, Ethiopia’s African Games champion Samuel Firewu was locked in a fierce sprint with world bronze medallist Abraham Kibiwott in the closing stages of the men’s 3000m steeplechase, eventually emerging with victory in a PB of 8:07.25 from the Kenyan’s 8:07.38.

It was a successful evening for several reigning world and Olympic champions across a range of disciplines.

World 800m champion Mary Moraa emerged victorious in the women’s 800m. The Kenyan held off a strong challenge from world indoor silver medallist Jemma Reekie to win in a season’s best of 1:57.91, finishing 0.51 ahead of the Briton. Benin’s Noelie Yarigo was third in 1:58.70.

Moraa’s compatriot Beatrice Chebet was similarly impressive in the women’s 5000m. The high-quality field – which featured the likes of Ejgayehu Taye and her fellow Ethiopians Medina Eisa and Melknat Wudu – was paced through the first 2000m in 5:48, after which Taye took up the running.

The world 10,000m bronze medallist continued to lead through the closing stages, but Chebet unleashed a burst of speed with 200m to go and sprinted away to a clear victory in a world-leading 14:26.98 – a meeting record by virtue of the fact that the women’s 5000m has previously never been held at this competition.

World indoor champion Freweyni Hailu looked to be on her way to a decisive victory in the women’s 1500m as she built up a lead of about 20 metres with a lap to go. But the Ethiopian started to fade over the final 200m while Australia’s Jess Hull and Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji battled it out behind.

Hull managed to make up some of the deficit, but Hailu had done just enough to hold on, winning in 4:00.42 from Hull’s 4:00.84.

Less than a week after he and his Bahamian teammates provided one of the highlights of the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24, Olympic champion Steven Gardiner was a comfortable winner of the men’s 400m.

The 28-year-old, who won the world title in this city back in 2019, finished 0.31 ahead of Commonwealth champion Muzala Samukonga of Zambia.

Britain’s Molly Caudery was another reigning global champion who was victorious in the Qatari capital tonight. The world indoor champion won the pole vault on countback from Australia’s world champion Nina Kennedy, both women clearing a best of 4.73m.

Elsewhere, rising Kenyan Brian Komen got the better of his highly decorated compatriot Timothy Cheruiyot in the men’s 1500m, winning in 3:32.43. The African Games champion finished 0.24 ahead of 2019 world champion Cheruiyot with Reynold Cheruiyot placing third in 3:32.96.

Serbian teenager Angelina Topic, the youngest in the field by five years, won the women’s high jump with 1.94m, clearing all of her bars up to and including that height on her first attempt.