Sweet 16 as high-flying Swede stays perfect

Sweet 16 as high-flying Swede stays perfect

DOHA • Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis completed a perfect season when he beat world champion Sam Kendricks at the Doha Diamond League meeting on Friday, the last of a campaign shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 20-year-old won all 16 of his meetings this year and set the world outdoor record of 6.15m in Rome last week and improved the world record to 6.18m on the World Indoor Tour in February.

A vault of 5.82m was enough for him to win again on Friday at the Qatar Sports Club ahead of American Kendricks and France’s former Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie, who both cleared the same height but with more failures.

“It’s been a fantastic season and I enjoyed sharing the moment tonight with the guys,” said Duplantis. “I enjoyed the jump and the rivalry with Sam. It’s been fun with him as we have always got back at each other.”

Echoing the views of many athletes, he added: “It’s been a rollercoaster year, sort of. I broke the indoor world record earlier in the year and I was enjoying the season but all of a sudden the pandemic came and everything shut down and no one knew what will happen next.

“It’s great (to be) back and I hope things keep improving.”

He failed once at 5.92m and also 6.00m before calling it a day.

Hendricks – the last person to beat Duplantis, in Doha’s Khalifa Stadium at last year’s world championships – was second on countback and Lavillenie third in humid, hot conditions with a temperature of 32 deg C.

Kenyan Faith Kipyegon ran the fastest time this season to win the women’s 800m, taking the lead from Spain’s Esther Guerrero around 200m from the end before cruising home for a comfortable win in 1 minute 57.68 seconds.

“I am very surprised not only with the win but with my record here tonight,” said the Olympic 1,500m champion.

“The year has been disturbing and I am glad it is coming to an end. We can’t wait enough for 2021.”

Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah continued her impressive form with an easy win in the women’s 100m. The Jamaican finished in 10.87sec, with Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou a distant 0.34sec behind in second.

An experimental format in the women’s long jump helped Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk to a win.

In the new system, the leading three after five rounds go into a “final three”, the previous results are discarded and the athlete with the best final jump wins the contest.

Bekh-Romanchuk produced 6.91m for her last effort while Nigeria’s Ese Brume was second with 6.68m. Sweden’s Khaddi Sagnia was third with 6.55m.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE