Ian Chadband / AAP News
Mixed results for Aussie athletes at the Doha Diamond League overnight as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games rapidly approach.
Peter Bol was left smiling but Stewart McSweyn could only grimace after Australia’s middle distance luminaries suffered dramatically contrasting fortunes in Doha’s season-opening Diamond League meet.
On a wild and windy Friday night in the Qatar capital, Olympic finalist Bol delivered the stand-out Australian performance in a “crazy” race, excited to earn his first-ever runner’s-up finish in a Diamond League 800 metres.
Jess Hull was also celebrating after also earning a top-three position in a high-quality 3000 metres.
But for middle distance master McSweyn, who’s had a torrid time after struggling with long COVID, it proved a wretched high profile return as he suffered a strained glute after the first 100 metres of his 1500m and struggled on to traipse home last of the 11 finishers.
Bol, fourth at last year’s Olympics, signalled he’ll be again a force to be reckoned with in world championship year as he delivered a powerful late kick in the two- lap event.
The 28-year-old Khartoum-born star proved the fastest finisher after a cagey race, roaring past Canadian Marco Arop and Briton Dan Rowden to finish second in 1 minute 49.35 seconds.
But the field were all caught napping by Kenya’s exceptional teenage world indoor silver medallist Noah Kibet, who took off on the final bend and maintained his form to win comfortably in 1:49.08.
“Today was a bit of a crazy race with the wind!” Bol conceded.
“But I’m really happy with how it worked out; the time doesn’t really matter to me, but what does matter is that it’s my first placing in a Diamond League.
“I hope (there’s) a few more to come. I’m really happy with it.”
National record holder Hull also enjoyed her best Diamond League outing, edging the battle for third in the 3000m ahead of Turkey’s Yasemin Can and Ethiopian Girmawit Gebrzihair in 8:40.97.
But way up ahead, there was a tremendous duel between two runaway leaders, with former Olympic 800m silver medallist Francine Niyonsaba, of Burundi, setting a world-leading 8:37.70 while pipping Kenyan Olympic 1500m champ Faith Kipyegon (8:38.05).
“Going forward, my plan to focus on the 1500 this season, but I believe this is a good start,” reckoned Hull.
McSweyn’s trouble struck early in the metric mile as he struggled to the line in a woeful 3:48.67, and it was left to Matt Ramsden to fly the Australian flag in sixth (3:38.83), as Kenya’s Abel Kipsang raced to victory.
On a night when the men’s pole vault was cancelled after a handful of attempts because high winds made it too dangerous, the usually excellent Aussie Brandon Starc couldn’t even clear his gentle opening 2.16m in the high jump.
International highlight of the night was Noah Lyles holding off strong- finishing US compatriot Fred Kerley to win the 200m in a wind-assisted 19.72 seconds. Olympic champ Andre de Grasse was fourth.
The men’s javelin throwers enjoyed the wind at their backs, though, as Grenada’s 2019 Doha world champion Anderson Peters landed a 93.07m monster, making him the fifth-longest thrower since the javelin weight was changed.
Shock of the evening was Bahamanian double Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo finishing third in the 400m as Tokyo silver medallist Marileidy Paulino, of the Dominican Republic, won in 51.20sec.