Thompson seals sprint supremacy on golden night in Brussels
Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson confirmed her sprint queen status with an emphatic 100 metres victory on Friday at a season-ending Diamond League meeting packed with gold medal winners in Brussels.
Thompson led from the blocks and was never challenged as she set a Brussels meeting record of 10.72 seconds, just one-hundredth of a second outside her winning time in Rio.
It secured her the Diamond Race title in the 100m and with it a $40,000 prize. Diamond Race winners are determined by a points system from a series of 14 meetings held over the year.
Dutch 200m world champion Dafne Schippers, Thompson’s rival for most of the year, was second in 10.97, concluding a disappointing season after she came away from Rio with just a silver medal in the 200 metres.
Olympic 800 metres champion Caster Semenya set a personal best in winning the 400 metres in 50.40 seconds.
Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, who shattered the world record to win gold in the 10,000 metres in Rio, had her sights set on the eight-year-old mark in the shorter 5,000m in Brussels.
Yet she had to settle for victory in a meeting record of 14 minutes 18.89 seconds, more than seven seconds outside the world record.
Arguably the best contest of the evening was in the 3,000 metres steeplechase, where another record was attempted without success, but Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto held off American Evan Jager, just as he did in Rio.
For the home crowd, Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam followed up heptathlon gold in Rio with victory in the high jump.
There was a further fillip for the Brussels audience with the belated award of gold medals to the Belgian women’s 4×100 metres relay team from the 2008 Olympics. The Belgians were promoted from silver after the doping disqualification of the Russian team that crossed the line in Beijing first.
“Congratulations to Belgium,” said International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe. “It shows what can be achieved and we will endeavour to ensure these processes are generally accelerated in the future.”
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