Zuzana Hejnova hasn’t been in vintage form this season but with the World Championships in London just around the corner, the reigning two-time champion has put herself back into the fray for title contention at the Rabat Diamond League on Sunday night.
A champion of Hejnova’s calibre should never been discounted and the 30-year-old demonstrated her form is on the rise again. While her rivals tied up in the home straight, Hejnova took the last two flights of hurdles brilliantly to claim victory in a season’s best of 54.22 ahead of Jamaica’s Janieve Russell (54.36) and Brit Eilidh Doyle (54.92).
It was a good evening for Czech stalwarts as Barbora Spotakova continued her resurgence with another victory in the javelin. A still and humid night in the Moroccan capital pegged back the distances but the world record-holder’s first round effort of 63.73m - nearly five metres down on her winning effort in the London Diamond League last weekend - proved sufficient for another victory ahead of Slovenia’s Martina Ratej (62.46m).
“It was a little bit difficult for me as I am not used to these kind of weather conditions. I am in good shape for the World Championships in London and I am looking forward to it,” she said.
It was also a good evening for Poland as Pawel Wojciechowski and Angelika Cichocka won impressively. In an admittedly depleted field, Wojciechowski cleared 5.85m to defeat Raphael Holzdeppe and European indoor champion Piotr Lisek while Cichocka outsprinted Rabab Arafi in the 1500m, 4:01.93 to 4:02.19.
“This victory is very important for my confidence. I worked on my finishing speed and that helped me to win this race. This proves that my preparation is going well,” said Cichocka.
Two-time European champion Gesa-Felicitas Krause broke new ground by achieving the first Diamond League win of her career, sprinting away from Kenyan youngsters Norah Tanui and Rosefline Chepngetich off the final water jump to win in 9:18.87 - the fourth fastest time of her career.
Krause will finalise her preparations for the World Championships at altitude in Switzerland and she will aim to be among the medals again after winning bronze in Beijing two years ago.
Chijindu Ujah had already broken the 10-second barrier but the Brit did so for the first time in wind legal conditions, winning the 100m in 9.98 from Ivory Coast’s Ben Youssef Meite (10.01) while Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko cleared 2.29m to win the high jump from European champion Gianmarco Tamberi from Italy with 2.27m. Despite taking some good scalps in Rabat, Tamberi is tempering expectations ahead of his first major competition after two ankle surgeries.
“As for the World Championships in London, I will do my best to be ready for it, even though it is going to be a little bit difficult for me because of the two serious injuries that I suffered from,” he said.
Lavillenie clears 5.80m at French Championships
Two days after becoming a father, world pole vault record-holder Renaud Lavillenie was back in action at the French Championships in Marseille.
After a mid-season dip in form, Lavillenie followed up his season’s best of 5.87m in Lausanne with a 5.80m clearance to seal the domestic spoils before two attempts at 5.90m to defeat Kevin Menaldo with 5.70m.
Christophe Lemaitre looked on course for a sprint double after winning the 100m in 10.34 (-1.4 m/s) but the Olympic bronze medallist had to settle for second in the 200m. Jeffrey John edged Lemaitre out in his best event - 20.66 to 20.70 - but the fastest athlete of the day Ben Bassaw - who ran 20.47 in the heat against a 1.4 m/s headwind - was a non-finisher.
The wind had settled down for the women’s 100m which Carole Zahi took full advantage of, clocking a lifetime best of 11.13 while there were some impressive albeit wind-aided performances in the horizontal jumps: Raihau Maiau (8.22m, +3.4) and Eloyse Lesueur (6.93m, +4.3) won the long jump titles while Jean-Marc Pontvianne (17.13m, +2.1) and Jeanine Assani Issouf (14.48m, +2.6) won the triple jump titles.
Olympic and European silver medallist Melina Robert-Michon won the discus title with 60.46m while world bronze medallist Alexandra Tavernier won the hammer with 64.76m.
Storl and Bradshaw approaching top form
After missing out on the medals at the Olympic Games last summer, David Storl is keen to atone at the World Championships in London and the former two-time world champion achieved a season’s best of 21.87m in Gotha on Saturday to move up to seventh on the world lists.
Holly Bradshaw is yet to claim a global outdoor medal but the former European indoor champion is on course to challenge for a medal on home soil in London next month after clearing a British outdoor record of 4.81m in Rottach-Egern before three attempts at an outright British record and world-lead of 4.81m.
American Katie Nageotte set a lifetime best of 4.73m while Germany’s Lisa Ryzih equalled her PB of 4.73m to finish third on countback.