05 May 2018 – 0:08

Doha Diamond League: Ta Lou  fastest woman; Semenya shines in Doha

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim celebrates after winning the men’s high jump event of the Doha Diamond League 2018 at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium yesterday. Picture by: Salim Matramkot/The Peninsula

By Armstrong Vas I The Peninsula

Doha: Marie-Josee Ta Lou emerged as the fastest woman of the Doha Diamond League while South Africa’s golden girl Caster Semenya won the women’s 1,500m race with a world leading time and personal best of 3:59.92.

Semenya – who is the focus of a recent controversial IAAF ruling – started the race with her usual, measured approach, remaining in the middle of the pack for the first half of the race before accelerating at the end.

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In the final 200m, the rest of the field at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium had no answer to the World and Olympic 800m champion’s kick and she finished more than a second in front of her rivals.

In second place was Kenya’s Nelly Jepkosgei (4:00.99) while Ethiopian Habitam Alemu (4:01.41) finished third.

“I wanted to go faster but had to slow down a little. It’s always been a dream to set the new record and continue to push beyond my personal best. I think we definitely achieved what we came here for. I want to maintain this momentum throughout the season, but will also make sure I continue to keep healthy. My immediate next step is to go back and watch the race, and see where we can improve,” Semenya said.

In the 100 metres, Ivory Coast’s Lou set a blistering pace to top the event with a world leading time of 10.85secs, leaving Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteg and Elaine Thompson of Jamaica to take the second and third place.

“I am really happy with my win – more than anything though, I’m so happy about the time! My aim for this season is just to do my best and maybe be able to win the Diamond League. I don’t want to say I want to win everything this year, but if I get to beat my personal best again like today, then that would be fantastic,” said Lou.

Earlier, the 2018 Diamond League season got off to an electrifying start with Sandra Perkovic winning the women’s discus with a new Diamond League record of 71.38m.

The two-time Olympic and World champion and a four-time European champion broke her own Diamond League record of 70.88m, while also erasing yet another Doha meet record of 68.23 set in 2015, which also stood against her name, but fell of her personal best of 71.41.

Yesterday the 27-yar-old notched the top mark of the day in her attempt.

“I was so close to my personal best. I really think Doha Diamond League is my lucky place, just as it was in 2015. The environment here is amazing and the conditions set me up for the year, with the season just beginning. This is perfect as we look forward to competing in the European Championships this year, and Doha has made me ready to make my mark there,” said Perkovic, the 27 year-old.

Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero, both of Cuba, secured the second and third places respectively. Perez with a throw of 66.82m finished ahead of compatriot Caballero, who touched the 63.80m mark.

In the women Pole Vault event, the 2016 Olympic gold medallist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece did not have the best of the starts as she finished fourth as Sandi Morris of the US took the first place.

Holly Bradshaw of Great Britain finished in the second place while Katie Nageotte of the US came third.

The 100 metres women’s hurdles proved to be a clean sweep from the US athletes as Sharika Nelvis, Brianna Mcneal and Kendra Harrison clinched the first three places.

The last women’s event of the day saw a 1-2-3 from the Kenayan women with Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui, Tirop Agnes Jebet  and Hyvin Kiyeng clinching the three podium places.