Thomas and Lyles win 200 meters in Diamond League opener

Thomas and Lyles win 200 meters in Diamond League opener. 

The Diamond League season began on a raucous night in front of a boisterous crowd in Doha on Friday, with American pair Gabby Thomas and Noah Lyles taking outstanding 200-meter triumphs and two guys throwing monster wind-assisted 90-meter javelin throws.

As the outdoor season takes shape ahead of the world championships in Eugene, Oregon in July, a high-quality field produced some amazing performances on track and field.

On home soil, Americans are expected to dominate the sprints. Lyles fought off a strong finish from compatriot Fred Kerley to win the 200m in 19.72 seconds, despite an agonizingly unlawful wind of + 2.1 seconds denying him a meeting record.

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“I do better under duress, and the audience energizes me,” Lyles said. “Right now, I’m happy and content with my job.”

Andre de Grasse of Canada, who won gold in Tokyo when Lyles finished third, was slow as he finished fourth in 20.15.

In the women’s race, Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson seemed to be on her way to winning until Thomas surged by her in the last 20 meters to create a new meeting mark of 21.98 seconds.

Jackson finished in 22.07, while world champion Dina Asher-Smith of the United Kingdom finished third in 22.37.

“I was worried at first, but now I feel fantastic,” Thomas added. “It’s incredible to perform in front of such a large audience. It gives me wonderful energy, and it’s lovely to be in Doha.”

The men’s pole vault was called off after just a few tries because the heavy winds rendered it too risky. The javelin throwers were also swapped ends. 

Jakub Vadlejch, the Tokyo silver medalist, took advantage of the wind with a throw of 89.87 meters, breaking his five-year personal best.

That was just the beginning, as Grenada’s Anderson Peters, the 2019 Doha world champion, nailed a 90.19. Valdlejch responded with a 90.88, but Peters responded with a 93.07, making him the fifth-longest javelin thrower since the weight was altered.

Korean Woo Sang-hyeok, who won the high jump with 2.33 meters, also mastered the difficult circumstances.

In the men’s 400m hurdles, Brazilian Dos Santos Alison established a meeting record of 47.24 seconds, while Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas finished third in the women’s 400m as Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino won in 51.20 seconds.

Morocco’s Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali overcame Ethiopian Lamecha Girma, who he edged out for silver in Tokyo, to win the 3,000m steeplechase by a tenth of a second in the last longest race of the night.