American sprinter Noah Lyles matched a season’s best time of 19.69sec in the men’s 200m as Birhanu Balew won a 5000m marred by final bend mayhem at the Lausanne Diamond League on Thursday.
Fresh from setting a best time of the year to capture the US 100m title last month the 20-year-old Lyles had enough up his sleeve to deny his compatriot Michael Norman (19.88).
After celebrating with an impromptu trackside dance Lyles said “19.69 is great but you can always improve”.
He added: “My life goals are big – I want to be as good if not better than Michael Johnson and Justin Gatlin.”
In contrast to Lyles, Norman’s immediate ambition was altogether more modest.
“I want to relax now and have some good Swiss ice cream.”
Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba sauntered to another 400m hurdle success.
Samba registered the latest chapter in a golden season with his sixth Diamond League win to add to his titles in Doha, Rome, Oslo, Stockholm, and Paris.
Last Saturday in the French capital he set the second-fastest time ever for the distance of 46.98sec.
He couldn’t match that but he didnt need to as his 47.42 was good enough to deny Norway’s Karsten Warholm (47.94) and Yasmani Copello of Turkey.
“I started quicker than normal and the last 100m were difficult,” said Samba.
“The aim for the season remains the Asian Games at the end of August,” he added.
In the 110m hurdles there was redemption for Sergey Shubenkov, the current world champion from Russia who was harshly ruled to have false started in Paris last weekend.
He posted a time of 12.95 with American Devon Allen (13.29) and France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in his slipstream.
“It’s my best season,” smiled Shubenkov.
Along with Samaba another star of last weekend’s meet in Paris was Caster Semenya, who put her run-in with the IAAF over controversial new rules on testosterone to one side as she scorched to the fourth-fastest time ever run in the women’s 800m.
Choosing to line up in Lausanne in the 1500m she failed to follow up, coming in sixth behind American Shelby Houlihan.
In the women’s 100m, Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou confirmed her status as the one to beat in 10.90 in front of Jamaican Elaine Thompson, the doulbe Olympic champion in Rio.
“I wasn’t in my best form either,” commented Ta Lou. “I only ran 11.12 in Budapest (on Monday).”
In the 5000m, Yomif Kejelcha was leading the pack when his Ethiopian compatriot Selemon Barega, placed second, clipped his heels.
As Kejelcha tumbled to the ground he tried to regain his balance by holding on to Barega, who in farcical scenes managed to escape his countryman’s desperate clutches.
Gifted the race naturalised Bahraini Balew flew down the straight as 18-year-old Barega manfully held on for second with world champion Muktar Edris only sixth.
“It has been a good season so far. I want this to continue like this,” said Balew after setting a season’;s best time of 13min 01.09sec.