The 2019 Diamond League season resumed on Sunday in Birmingham after nearly a month-long hiatus, and there was plenty of excitement to go around despite windy conditions thwarting fast times in the British city.
Here were the highlights from the 11th Diamond League meeting of the season:
Shaunae Miller-Uibo Remains Undefeated, Wins All-Star Women’s 200m Over Asher-Smith, Fraser-Pryce
(Note: Miller-Uibo announced after publication that she does not plan to compete in the 200m at the 2019 World Championships.)
Even without world leader Elaine Thompson, a loaded women’s 200m in Birmingham served as a de facto World Championship preview, won on Sunday by Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo in 22.24.
Added to Miller-Uibo’s dominant defeat of Thompson last month in Monaco, it’s easy to see that she is the clear favorite for 200m gold in Doha after she dispatched the trio of Dina Asher-Smith, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and defending world champion Dafne Schippers in Birmingham.
Miller-Uibo has not lost a 200m race since the 2017 World Championship final in London over two years ago.
The 25-year-old had to rally on fast starters Asher-Smith and Fraser-Pryce off the curve, but once the 2016 400m Olympic champion got rolling, she steam-rolled both women with her long stride seeming to cover double the ground of her two rivals.
The Brit Asher-Smith was second in 22.36, with Fraser-Pryce third in 22.50. Schippers, who has won the last two 200m world titles, is still struggling to get right this season and was well back in 22.81 for fourth.
Miller-Uibo’s win maintained her undefeated 2019 campaign,
a season that seems to be driving towards a 200m/400m double in Doha. She will have challengers in both, and the finals are on back-to-back days on Oct. 6 and 7, but Sunday reaffirmed her status as the gold medal favorite in the shorter distance.
Danielle Williams Dominates Keni Harrison In Highly-Anticipated High Hurdle Duel
Ever since she was disqualified from the Jamaican Trials back in June due to a false-start, Danielle Williams has seemingly been a woman on a mission in the 100m hurdles. Last month in London, she set the world lead with an impressive 12.32, and on Sunday, Williams showed the clearest sign yet that she will be the favorite in Doha next month.
Facing world record holder Keni Harrison, Williams went unchallenged in Birmingham in a dominant 12.46 win, easily bettering Harrison, who was a distant second in 12.66. The race was run into a slight headwind, but the 26-year-old former world champion still managed to tie Harrison’s meet record from 2016. But the bigger story was her large margin of victory over Harrison, who clearly has her work cut out for her to counter the fast-starting Williams.
Harrison looked out of sorts in the prelim, finishing fourth in her section in 12.93. For the 2019 U.S. champion, that was her first loss of the season. She looked better in the final, but certainly had no answer for Williams, who appears on track to win the Diamond League in a few weeks in Brussels and the world title after that in Qatar.
Williams' status for Worlds was unclear after her mishap at the Jamaican Championships, but the Jamaican Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) announced earlier this week that the hurdler was eligible for selection, which marked a reversal of the federation's previous policy.
Konstanze Klosterhalfen Adds Another National Record With 4:21 Mile Win
Just two weeks after she impressively solo’d a 14:26.76 5,000m German record, 22-year-old Konstanze Klosterhalfen of the Nike Oregon Project picked up yet another national record on Sunday as she won the Birmingham mile in 4:21.11.
Klosterhalfen battled windy conditions and a great test from Canadian Gabriella Debues-Stafford, but she was able to hang on with a 65-second last lap to better Ulrike Bruns 4:21.59 German outdoor record that had stood since 1985. For Klosterhalfen, it was her third such record in a breakout outdoor season.
Debues-Stafford was second in 4:22.47. Former University of Oregon star Jessica Hull finished fourth in a 4:24.93 personal best.
Ronald Musagala Slips Past Tefera, Engels To Win 1500m
If not for an unforced error from 19-year-old Ethiopian Samuel Tefera, whose tactical acumen remains suspect, Ugandan Ronald Musagala likely does not win the men’s 1500m in Birmingham on Sunday. But the 26-year-old was handed a gift in the final 100m as Tefera vacated the inside rail, opening up a seam for Musagala to sprint to victory unencumbered in 3:35.12.
Ronald Musagala edged out last years mile winner Stewart McSweyn for victory in the Men's 1500m— Müller Grand Prix Birmingham (@BirminghamDL) August 18, 2019
4 athletes finished within 1 second of one another in a super tight finish! pic.twitter.com/HPvBUpBSgU
Tefera held the lead at the bell after a slow third lap (60.12, 2:53.64), but he had plenty of company as Australia’s Stewart McSweyn, U.S. champion Craig Engels and Musagala stalked him closely entering the final straight. But Tefera, the wildly talented teen who broke the indoor 1500m world record in February (3:31.04) and won the London mile last month in 3:49.45, has struggled in anything besides time-trial scenarios. That continued on Sunday as he mistakenly drifted into lane two as the kicking began. Perhaps he doesn’t win even if holds his position— Tefera ultimately faded to fourth— but it is such errors that will likely keep the young star off the Doha podium if makes them at the World Championships.
The Aussie McSweyn was second in 3:35.21, while Engels, running his first race since winning the U.S. title on July 28 in Des Moines, was out of position in the final kick and settled for third in 3:35.51. Tefera finished a disappointing fourth in 3:35.77.
Ajee’ Wilson Stays Undefeated In Semenya-Less 800m
The time was slow due to breezy conditions, but nonetheless it was mission accomplished in the women’s 800m for Ajee’ Wilson, who won her third consecutive Diamond League contest this season in races not including Caster Semenya in 2:00.76.
Wilson took control after the pacer stepped off at the bell in 57.13, and the American never relinquished the lead. Jamaican Natoya Goule was Wilson's stiffest competition for the first half of the last lap as she hung on the American’s shoulder, but Goule wound up paying for it as she faded to sixth in 2:02.70.
Lynsey Sharp of Great Britain was second in 2:01.09 with Raevyn Rogers third in 2:01.40.
With Semenya barred from competing, Wilson is the clear favorite for gold in Doha and she reaffirmed as much by easily defeating a field with six other women with sub-2:00 personal bests.