Reigning world, Olympic and European champion Nafissatou Thiam demonstrated her already significant range of talents extends all the way to the long jump after she smashed her national record twice in the Birmingham Diamond League on Sunday (18), beating a field replete with accolades from major championships.
Thiam leapt out to 6.74m in the second round to eclipse her record of 6.67m which she set at the Talence Decastar in June where she totalled a world leading 6819 points but an even bigger jump awaited as the Belgian, who turns 25 tomorrow, hit the sand at 6.86m with her third attempt.
If Thiam was to reproduce this very same form in a combined events competition – which remains very much her focus despite her excellence in both the long jump and high jump – this would correspond to 1125 points and would further enrich her prospects of one day challenging Carolina Kluft’s European record of 7032 points.
Thiam’s momentous third round effort withstood the challenge posed by reigning world and European indoor champion Ivana Spanovic from Serbia who threatened Thiam’s lead with a season’s best of 6.85m to conclude the third round.
Spanovic didn’t improve in the second half of the competition but Katarina Johnson-Thompson did, almost snatching the win from her long-time combined events adversary in the sixth round with a notable season’s best of 6.85m – her best jump since winning the pentathlon title at the 2015 European Indoor Championships in Prague.
Based on their form all the way through the season – and particularly so after today – Thiam and Johnson-Thompson are both well placed to enrich their resumes when they contest the heptathlon at the IAAF World Championships in Doha next month.
“It was really good, a really good competition. All the other jumps were consistent too across the board,” said Thiam. “It gives me confidence because of the performance I had. Being first or second didn’t matter; Spanovic was 6.85m – so only one centimetre difference.”
With two combined event specialists ensconced inside the top three, European silver medallist Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk had to settle for fifth with 6.67m, one position ahead of former Olympic silver medallist Yelena Sokolova who also jumped 6.67m.
German record in the mile for Klosterhalfen; Stefanidi in winning form in the pole vault
Konstanze Klosterhalfen broke her first senior outdoor record over 3000m in Birmingham two years ago and the German displaced yet another national record – her sixth of the season – on this track which dated all the way back to 1985 in terms of antiquity.
Lining up in the mile, Klosterhalfen ran assertively and full of confidence, following pacemaker Chanelle Price from the United States through 400m in an ambitious 62.74 and 800m in 2:09.22 before cutting loose from the in-form Canadian Gabriela Debues-Stafford on the third lap.
In blustery conditions with a particularly biting wind on the back straight, the prospect of a sub-4:20 winning time began to slip away on the last lap but Klosterhalfen was still rewarded with yet another German record, stopping the clock at 4:21.11 which brought her inside Ulrike Bruns’ previous mark of 4:21.59.
“It’s nice to take my first Diamond League win,” said the German. “It was windy out there but I still produced a good time like that and I’m delighted. I needed to use a lot of power in the wind and to win was incredible.”
Klosterhalfen is yet to decide if she will contest the 1500m or 5000m at the IAAF World Championships in Doha.
Reigning world champion Ekaterini Stefanidi from Greece also prevailed in a competition which was especially affected by the strong wind swirling around the Alexander Stadium.
Stefanidi’s experience came into play as she aborted her approach on several occasions due to the conditions but the Greek kept in the lead with first time clearances at 4.55m and 4.65m before winning by one clear height with a third-time clearance at 4.75m.
“There was a lot of consistency in my jumps on the runway despite the conditions and I’m happy,” she said. “It’s very important to jump well in all conditions like today as this is what really prepares you for championships.”
There were also two excellent runner-up finishes for the Brits in the sprints. Dina Asher-Smith kept Shaunae Miller-Uibo at bay around the bend and for most of the home straight, only pegging back the treble European champion in the last 30 metres to win the 200m in 22.24 to Asher-Smith’s 22.36.
Adam Gemili was even closer to victory in the 100m, finishing second to former world champion Yohan Blake from Jamaica. Both were timed at 10.07.