Sunday, June 20, 2021

Athletics-Asher-Smith storms to 200m Diamond League victory in Florence

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(Reuters) – Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith clocked her fastest time outside of a major championships as she powered to victory in the 200 metres at the third Diamond League meeting of the season in Florence on Thursday.

The 25-year-old world champion laid down a strong marker ahead of the Tokyo Olympics with a time of 22.06 seconds that left her more than half a second ahead of the Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou.

Asher-Smith’s time marked her season’s best run, leaving the Briton in high spirits heading towards the Olympics next month.

“It’s been really hard over the past year and a bit because of the pandemic – so I’m really proud to be able to put that kind of time, and I definitely have more in me,” she said.

In the men’s 100m, South African Akani Simbine edged Britain’s Chijindu Ujah to the line by two-hundredths of a second with a time of 10.08 seconds.

The surprise of the evening in Florence, which was hosting the meeting while Rome’s Stadio Olimpico is unavailable as it hosts Euro 2020 soccer matches, was Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen setting a European record in the men’s 5,000m.

The 20-year-old stormed clear in the final 200m to finish in 12:48.45, smashing his personal best by almost 14 seconds and finishing more than six seconds clear of world record holder Joshua Cheptegei who trailed in sixth.

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands edged ahead of Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon on the final straight to win a thrilling women’s 1,500m by 0.28 seconds.

Hassan set a 10,000m world record in her home country on Sunday only to lose it two days later to Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, the Dutchwoman ended her week with a world leading time of 3:53.63.

“I thought that Faith Kipyeon was going to win. At 800m we were so fast, but I tried to do my best,” Hassan said.

“I got the meeting record, but for me it is not so much about that. I am surprised about the time!”

Dutch 21-year-old Femke Bol continued her impressive rise with a personal best 53.44 seconds in the women’s 400m hurdles, her third Diamond League victory.

Double Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic of Croatia registered a 43rd Diamond League victory in the discus, winning with her biggest throw in two years of 68.31m.

Jamaica’s Omar McLeod ran a world leading time of 13.01 seconds to win the men’s 110m hurdles and New Zealand’s Tom Walsh won the shot put ahead of local favourite Leonardo Fabbri who threw a season’s best 21.71 metres in his home city to finish third.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond)

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