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Shubenkov under 13 seconds again at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels

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Sergey Shubenkov again went under 13 seconds as he sped his way to IAAF Diamond League glory for the second year running, clocking 12.97 in Brussels for the third fastest time of his career.

The Russian, competing as an Authorised Neutral Athlete, had a far-from-blazing start after being the slowest to react to the gun but he was up on the shoulder with leader Orlando Ortega by the fifth hurdle and went through the gears to pull away in the second half of the race with the Spaniard coming home second in 13.10 and France’s 2018 European champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde back in fourth in 13.36.

“I am feeling strong again, after the disappointment in Berlin. Today was about the win but the time gives me the confidence I need for my last three races,” said Shubenkov, one of whose final races will be in a Team Europe vest at the IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava next week.

Laura Muir and Sifan Hassan were ahead and together at the bell but just before reaching the final bend Great Britain’s Berlin 2018 European 1500m champion produced a well-timed burst of acceleration to put distance between herself and Hassan, who had endured an overnight drive from Zurich where she had finished second in the 5000m final.

Muir flew down the home straight before stopping the clock in 3:58.49 while Hassan, although overtaken by USA’s Shelby Houlihan for second place, still managed an excellent third in 3:59.41 considered how tired she must have been.

“It was very heavy and even my arms were full of lactic acid, but on the other side I felt very good at the same time. The positioning, I have learnt with my mistakes from the past. For once, I did not want go too fast in the first half,” reflected Muir.

Timur Morgunov continues to impress in the pole vault. After joining the six-metre club in Berlin, the Russian beat a classy field which contained six other six-metre vaulters to win the very last 2018 Diamond Trophy.

He wriggled over 5.88m on his last attempt, as did the USA’s world champion Sam Kendricks, but then a couple of minutes later went over 5.93m at the first time of asking.

It was a close thing. Morgunov made contact with the bar, which flexed and flew at least a centimetre directly up in the air off the stands, but it stayed up and it proved to be the winning leap as Kendricks failed three times at that height.

Morgunov had the option of trying for a higher height but after a competition lasting almost three hours and with the temperatures cooling, he decided to call it a day.

Sweden’s European champion Mondo Duplantis had been jetting back-and-forth across the Atlantic as he started at a US university just over a week ago and the travelling appeared to take its toll on the super-talented teenager as he cleared 5.68m but no higher and finished down in seventh place.

Portugal’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo took the triple jump crown with a fourth-round effort of 17.49m to make it a quartet of 2018 Diamond Trophy winners from Europe in Brussels.

European athletes also had a number of good second place finishes in the Belgian capital.

Australian record holder Brandon Starc and Germany’s 2018 European champion Mateusz Przybylko both he cleared 2.33m before they had three failures at 2.35m but the verdict went to the man from the southern hemisphere as he got over the deciding height with his second attempt compared to his rivals third.

Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres opened in the discus with 68.67m while Lithuania’s reigning world and European champion Andrius Gudzius reached 67.56m in the second round but that was to be both men’s best efforts.

Great Britain’s Berlin 2018 bronze medallist Shara Proctor improved to second in Brussels when she leapt 6.70m in the fifth round but she still ended up 10 centimetres in arrears of the Colombian winner, Caterine Ibarguen.

However, there was a big upset on the night as Sandra Perkovic’s third place in the women’s discus, put an end to her unbeaten season and it the first time she has finished this low in a competition since 2014.

Perkovic, initially throwing last out of the eight finalists, immediately made a statement with 64.31m and that stood up as the best throw in the competition until three throws from the end; but first Brazil’s Andressa de Morais (64.65m) and then Cuba’s Yaime Perez (65.00m) went past her and the Croatian great couldn’t respond with the very last throw of the competition.

In non-IAAF Diamond League races, 2012 European 800m champion Lynsey Sharp showed good end-of-season form after her disappointing sixth place in Berlin when she won over two laps of the track in 1:59.93 while Ukraine’s 2018 European bronze medallist Olha Lyakhova was down in sixth on this occasion.

The latter’s compatriot Anna Ryzhykova won the 400m hurdles in 55.38, coming home in front of a field including three other Berlin finalists.