Jamaicans rule Paris track as local stars fail to shine

Paris, July 5 (IANS) Usain Bolt’s withdrawal made little difference to the Paris Diamond League meeting as the 100 metres events for men as well as women saw winners from Jamaica and the number of spectators hit another high.

Asafa Powell on Saturday made a strong comeback from a doping suspension to the Diamond Race, running the third fastest 100 metres of the year to win the men’s sprint on 9.81 seconds, while fellow Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.74 seconds to be the fastest woman, reports Xinhua.

“It was a great race today,” said Powell who won Jamaica’s trials a week ago on 9.84 seconds to earn a spot for August’s World Championships in Beijing. “I worked on my start last week and it paid off.”

The former world record holder, already 32, chopped 0.03 seconds off his previous season best for the title, beating local favourite Jimmy Vicaut to the second place as the Frenchman equalled the European record of 9.86 seconds.

Michael Rodgers of the US was third with a time of 9.99 seconds, missing a chance of narrowing down the deficit to his countryman and Diamond Race leader Justin Gatlin. Powell’s time is 0.07 seconds off pace of Gatlin’s world leading record of the season.

In the world women’s 100m section, Fraser-Pryce took the lead with the Paris result. The 28-year-old two-time Olympic champion bettered the season’s previous world best of 10.79 seconds that she and English Gardner of the US both claimed last month.

She was 0.06 seconds faster than the second-placed Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, whose 10.80 seconds also bettered the previous meeting record of 10.88 seconds, set by legendary American Marion Jones in Paris 17 years ago.

Gardner, with the fastest reaction in Saturday’s sprint, finished a distant third on 10.97 seconds, leaving the American on the sixth position of the Diamond Race rankings.

“When you have good runners there, you always run fast. That is for me the motivation. We had excellent field today,” said Fraser-Pryce after the race.

“I think I have room to improve, in my technique, in the start,” added the treble winner in the 2013 worlds in Moscow.

The one-day elite event of track and field welcomed around 46,000 spectators into the Stade de France where 75,000 seats are available, according to Laurent Boquillet, sports director of the organisers.

Local fans, however, might not be satisfied with what they saw as world record holder of men’s pole vault Renaud Lavillenie failed three times at 5.86 metres, letting Greek Konstantinos Filippidis win in 5.91 metres.

Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba was not happy either. She fought so tightly against compatriot Almaz Ayana to win the women’s 5,000 metres race — but fell 4.26 seconds short of her elder sister Tirunesh’s seven-year-old existing world mark of 14:11.15.

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