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ATHLETICS

Sprint champ Thompson on winning form in Zurich

Recently-crowned double Olympic sprint champion Elaine Thompson maintained her winning ways by holding her form to claim victory in an all-star women's 200m at the Diamond League meet in Zurich on Thursday.

Sprint champ Thompson on winning form in Zurich
Thompson was victorious in the 200m. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Dutch world champion Dafne Schippers, who won silver behind Thompson at the Rio Games, had an electric start from lane five, up quickly on the Jamaican over the opening 50 metres.
   
Coming into the home stretch, it looked as if Schippers had the victory in the bag, but she pulled up with 10m to run and dipped too early, allowing a strong-finishing Thompson into first in a Diamond League record of 21.85 seconds.
   
“I came out a winner and I'm happy!” said Thompson. “This is a blast. I came out to execute well.
     
Schippers was second, just one-hundredth of a second adrift in 21.86sec, the second fastest time of her career bettered only by her 21.63 when winning the world title in Beijing last year.
   
“The time is really good, I achieved a season's best,” said Schippers.
   
“This year, I had quite a few struggles. I hope to come back stronger next year.”   
   
In one of the most stellar fields ever assembled over the women's 200m, American Allyson Felix, who won 200m gold at the 2012 London Games and is also a three-time world champion in the distance, was third in 22.02sec.
   
European champion and Olympic bronze medallist Dina Asher-Smith of Britain was fourth in 22.38sec, while Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown, Olympic champion in 2004 and 2008, had to be happy with sixth behind compatriot and relay specialist Simone Facey.
   
Between Thompson, Schippers, Felix and Campbell-Brown, the quartet have dominated the women's 200m since 2004, reaping seven of the 12 available medals in the last four Olympics and 10 of the 18 in six world championships over the same period, including nine individual 200m golds.

Lavillenie moves on in style

In the men's pole vault, Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie firmly buried memories of being reduced to tears by a hostile crowd at the Rio Olympics by continuing his domination of the Diamond League.
   
A weeping Lavillenie became one of the most poignant images from the Games as he struggled with the partisan crowd backing eventual gold medal winner, local hero Thiago Braz.
   
When the Frenchman, champion at the 2012 London Olympics, was jeered and heckled as he received his silver medal on the podium, tears were seen flowing down his face.
   
IOC president Thomas Bach, IAAF supremo Sebastian Coe and pole vault legend Sergey Bubka, an IAAF vice president, were among those who rushed to console him.
   
After leaving the Frenchman, Bach said it was “shocking behaviour for the crowd to boo Renaud Lavillenie on the medal podium. Unacceptable behaviour at the Olympic Games”.
   
Lavillenie himself said at the time: “It's disgusting, there is a total lack of fair-play and I want to stress that the Brazilian (Braz) is not involved at all. But I am going to move on.”
   
And move on he has done, tying with American Sam Hendricks for victory in Thursday's Diamond League in Zurich — Braz settling for third — after also winning in Paris last week.

“I won the Diamond League for the seventh time,” the Frenchman said of his record streak. “It's super. I'm very proud and very happy.”

Street meet

One of the highlights of the Zurich Diamond League this year was holding the women's pole vault in the main hall of the Swiss city's central train station.
   
IAAF president Coe has long pushed the concept of “street athletics”, taking field events out to the public to widen appeal to a younger audience.
   
Briton Holly Bradshaw won the event, where the runway was raised to the landing mat, lined on one side by a temporary scaffolded seating area with standing room on the other side and at the far end of the mat.
   
“Personally I really love street meets. It gets the most out of me and the crowd was amazing,” she said, with fans packed in around the runway to make for a special event.
   
Second-placed American Sandi Morris admitted it was a “very peculiar place to compete, people are very close”.
   
“But I love it! I was feeding off their energy,” she said.
   
Greece's Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi added: “It's really nice to feel the audience right next to you, but it's very different from being in a big stadium and it takes a little getting used to.”
  

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ATHLETICS

Farah ends track career with victory in Zurich

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah ended his track career in thrilling fashion on Thursday with victory in the 5,000m at the Diamond League final in Zurich while world 100m champion Justin Gatlin slumped to defeat.

Farah ends track career with victory in Zurich
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
The 34-year-old Farah, also a six-time world champion who will now switch to road running, clocked 13min 06.05sec to defeat Paul Chelimo of the United States and Muktar Edris of Ethiopia.
   
However, Chelimo was later disqualified for obstruction with Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha promoted to third place.
   
Victory was particularly sweet as Edris had defeated him in the 5,000m final at the world championships in London two weeks ago, ending his streak of 10 gold medals dating back to the 2011 world championships.
   
It was also Farah's first career Diamond League trophy.
   
“I wanted to win, and it's amazing that I have won, but it was hard work,” said Farah.
   
“I will miss the track, the people, my fans. I have enjoyed running in stadiums for a lot of years, but now first of all I will enjoy being with my family.”
   
While Farah took the applause of the Zurich crowd, it proved a night to forget for controversial American sprinter Gatlin who captured the world 100m title in London.
   
Gatlin, who served a four-year doping ban from 2006-2010, wasn't jeeered as he was in London, where he gatecrashed Usain Bolt's farewell party, but was beaten into fourth place in 10.04sec with Britain's Chijindu Ujah taking victory in 9.97sec.
   
Ujah, part of Britain's 4x100m relay title-winning squad at the world championships, finished ahead of Ivory Coast's Ben Youssef Meite (9.97sec) with Ronnie Baker of the US completing the podium (10.01sec).
 
Schippers, Thompson beaten 
 
Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo stunned world champion Dafne Schippers and Olympic gold medallist Elaine Thompson to win the women's 200m.
   
Miller-Uibo, who was only third in the event at the recent world championships in London, won in a time of 21.88sec ahead of Thompson (22.00) and Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast (22.09), the silver medallist in London. 
   
Schippers struggled home in fourth place (22.36).
   
It was the second shock failure of the season for Thompson, the Jamaican sprinter who captured Olympic gold in the 100m and 200m in Rio in 2016.
   
In the 100m at the world championships, she finished in a lowly fifth place.
   
However, she will get a last chance to redeem herself at the concluding Diamond League meet of the season in Brussels on September 1st when she runs in the 100m.
   
Bahrain's Ruth Jebet ran the second ever fastest women's 3,000m steeplechase winning in 8min 55.29sec.
   
The Kenyan-born Olympic champion, 20, was two and a half seconds off her own world record of 8:52.78 set in Paris in August last year.
   
Jebet had a disappointing world championships where she finished fifth but she bounced back on Thursday beating Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech (8:59.84), the runner who famously missed the water jump barrier in London and had to retrace her steps.
   
World champion Emma Coburn of the United States was fourth in 9min 14.81sec.
   
Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim struggled in the rain to improve on his season best of 2.40m set in Birmingham last week.
   
He still won with a clearance of 2.36m on his third attempt, some distance back from Javier Sotomayor's world record of 2.45m set in 1993.