European athletes Andreas Hofmann, Mariya Lasitskene, Ekaterini Stefanidi and Tatsiana Khaladovich hit the jackpot at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich, securing not only a $50,000 first prize cheque but also a prestigious Diamond Trophy.
A third-round effort of 91.44m earned Germany’s Hofmann revenge Germany’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games champion Thomas Rohler, who beat his friend to the European title in Berlin earlier this season.
Hofmann’s massive throw, accompanied by a mighty roar and both arms pumped skywards in triumph, equalled the second be his career and his fourth 90 metres-plus competition of the season.
“I do not know what to say, I am speechless. It is amazing. The crowd here in Zurich is great, but of course it is not my home crowd like in Berlin. The crowd here pushed me to my best result. But you cannot compare this to European Championships or to any other competition. My last competition of this year will be in Berlin (on Sunday). I will have fun there. After that I will go to Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps with my girlfriend, no mobile phone for most of the time to give some rest also to the mind, not only to the body,” said a tired but happy Hofmann.
“When the javelin was gone, I knew that it would fly far but I did not dream of 91 metres. My summary of the season: two Diamond League wins, winning the Diamond Trophy, new PB, and four times over 90m, a really excellent season,” he added.
Estonia’s Magnus Kirt took second place with 87.57m while Rohler had to be content with fourth in 85.76m.
Double world high jump champion Maria Lasitskene won her 23rd competition of the year and retained her IAAF Diamond League title by clearing 1.97m, which proved beyond the rest of the field.
Lasitskene’s task was made easier by the fact that Bulgaria’s Mirela Demireva, who took European silver behind Lasitskene and also inflicted her only defeat of the year on her, pulled out just before the start of the competition with ankle problems.
2017 world silver medallist Yuliya Levchenko of Ukraine cleared 1.94m on her third attempt to keep the competition alive as the last two other remaining contenders, Germany’s European bronze medallist Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch and Erika Kinsey of Sweden, failed to progress; but Levchenko could go no further.
Greece’s Stefanidi – the reigning Olympic, world and two-time defending European champion – won the IAAF Diamond League pole vault for the third successive year with a first-time clearance of 4.87m, a season’s best and the only woman over that height.
The 2017 European Athlete of the Year went on to have three unsuccessful attempts at a personal best of 4.92m, with the USA’s Sandi Morris still in the competition and vaulting at that height after failing the first time at the previous height and then passing to 4.92m for two final attempts which saw the American bring the bar down.
“The season started really hard and I have to change a lot of details in my trainings because I was not doing that well. The goal was the European Championships and I managed to win them. For how the season started, I am happy with the situation now. My season’s best today is very important but more important is to finish the season healthy,” said Stefanidi.
Khaladovich has returned to form after the disappointment of being unable to defend her European javelin title – she finished down in fifth in Berlin with a relatively modest 60.92 – with two good 66 metres-plus competitions in a week, firstly throwing 66.59m in the Finnish town of Lappeenranta a week ago and then reaching 66.99m in the fifth round in Zurich to win by almost a metre from China’s recently crowned Asian Games champion Liu Shiying, who finished second with 66.00m.
The Belarusian had the second best throw of her career and was just 48cm short of her own national record set earlier this summer in Oslo.
Several European champions from Berlin had near-misses in Zurich.
Turkey’s world and European 200m champion Ramil Guliyev had to settle for second best at his favourite distance. He still clocked an impressive 19.98 but could do little to stay with USA’s rampant Noah Lyles over the final 50 metres of the race, the American clocking 19.67.
World and European 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm was beaten to last year’s IAAF Diamond League title by a final surge from Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Isles. History repeated itself as he was caught over the final 30 metres, with McMaster winning in 48.08, the Norwegian just 0.02 behind, and Yasmani Copello of Turkey third in 48.73.
Sifan Hassan, such an impressive winner of the European 5000m title earlier this month, threw down the gauntlet to Kenya’s 2017 world champion Hellen Obiri with 250 metres to but the latter found another gear coming into the final bend and regained the lead before crossing the line in 14:38.39, with Hassan second in 14:38.77.