DOHA (Reuters) – American Kenneth Bednarek edged out Canadian André De Grasse by one hundredth of a second in a scintillating 200 metres race at Friday’s Doha Diamond League meeting on a night when Kenyans dominated the middle-distance competitions.
Bednarek was pushed all the way but won in 19.88 ahead of De Grasse whose compatriot Aaron Brown was third (20.25) on a hot and humid night in the Qatari capital.
Bednarek was delighted with the win even though he said he was “a bit nervous. But I am excited that I got in the first place. I’ll try to be even better again the next time.”
De Grasse saw the race as a step in the right direction. “I’ll try to do better in the next one, and I am happy (to go to) Tokyo (for the Olympics),” he said.
In the other highly anticipated race, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the double Olympic champion and multiple world champion, won the 100m, putting behind her a disappointing fourth-place finish in Gateshead last Sunday.
Fraser-Pryce, 34, ran 10.84 seconds ahead of Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (10.90) with America’s Javianne Oliver finishing third (11.03).
Kenyans dominated the middle-distance races on a night when athletes competed without spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions, although music from the stadium’s loudspeakers provided some semblance of an atmosphere.
Men’s 1,500m world and three-time Diamond League champion Timothy Cheruiyot ran a patient race to win in a world leading time of 3:30.48 to kick-start his season.
“It was a very good race, anyone could have won,” Cheruiyot said. “My next focus is Monaco.”
Australia’s second-placed Stewart McSweyn ran a season’s best 3:31.57, with Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali coming home third with a personal best time of 3:31.95. In the women’s 800m, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon nudged through on the inside to secure an impressive win with a time of 1:58.26 for the 1,500m Olympic champion and world silver medallist.
Jamaica’s Natoya Goule finished second in 1:59.70 and Rababe Arafi of Morocco was third with 1:59.83.
“I did my personal best here in Doha, so it’s really, really great to be here,” Kipyegon said. “I am training so hard and hoping to do my best, so I am putting all my mind on it. The pandemic wasn’t easy but we always try to be great.”
Another Kenyan, 21-year-old Beatrice Chebet, won the 3,000m with a world leading time of 8:27.49 sprinting ahead of Hellen Obiri, the twice world 5,000m champion, who faded towards the end of the race and finished a disappointing fourth.
Margaret Kipkemboi came second with a season’s best of 8:28.27 while Lilian Rengeruk ran a personal best of 8:28.96 to finish third as Kenyans took the first five places.
“It’s my first time winning in the Diamond League and here in Doha,” Chebet said. “I didn’t expect to win. I did well today and now I am preparing for the Olympics.”
Chebet said she hoped to run the 5,000m in Tokyo.
(Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Ken Ferris)