Doha
Diamond League 2020: The end of the most unconventional athletic year
Photo edition: Silvia Rueda Lozano

The sun was down in Doha at the time Diamond League’s last meeting of the season was about to start. Athletes were on track, with the dark sky above their heads and ready to give the last athletics show of the most unconventional athletic year. In normal circumstances, the Doha meeting is the first one of the year, but, after all the postponements and cancellations the Diamond League organization has done during the whole season to provide an athletic year similar to a normal one, had turned Doha into the last meeting of 2020.

Suheim bin Hamad Stadium was more a sauna than a stadium: the thermometers marked 34°C or 93,2 °F in the stadium (better not to imagine how was the temperature of the track). Athletes were aware of that: they competed last year in October at the Khalifa Stadium for the World Championship. They were aware of, but their bodies were rivers of sweat and some of them needed some cold refreshes before and after the performance.  

Nevertheless, the last meeting of the Diamond League 10th edition had some remarkable moments. The night was for middle and long-distance races. There were huge stars of this season on the track competing.

Timothy Cheruiyot did his first 800m race of the season and, for the first time in the season, he was not the first crossing the finish line – he was the 8th and Ferguson Rotich was the winner of his specialty.

At the 3000m, Hellen Obiri led the race seating a Diamond League record (8:22.54). Furthermore, the race was good for almost everybody: seven personal best were broken and Jessica Hull broke the national record. The Australian ended up the season with the third national record broken in the season. Hull owns now the Australian national records at 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m races.

Her compatriot, Stewart Mcsweyn, became the men of the evening. The Australian, who needed to overtake the pacemaker at the last lap, did a marvelous 1500m race setting a new personal best and breaking out the national record. No doubt the Doha meeting was the icing on the cake for Mcsweyn's season.

Another athlete who culminated a great season with an amazing performance was Esther Guerrero. The Spanish athlete became second at the 800m race (won by Faith Kipygeon) after one and a half lap leading the race with a magnificent performance. Guerrero arrived in Doha with two titles won a few weeks ago on Spanish Championship, and, with this personal best under 2 minutes, the athlete has crowned as the Spanish athlete of the year.

At the 200m race, Arthur Cissé broke the national record from Ivory Coast Island and set a new personal best (20.23). On the other hand, Kahmari Montgomery won the 400m men race and Elaine Thompson-Herah did not let down at 100m women race. Hurdles races ended up with Payton Chadwick as the female winner, and the male race was won by Aaron Mallet (who set a personal best) after two disqualifications: Paolo Dal Molin and Wilhem Belocian, who was expected to broke the Orlando Ortega’s record of the season he set in Monaco.

In Doha, there were only two events being celebrated out of the track. Long Jump Women discipline ended up with Ukrainian Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk as the winner after she won Ese Brume and Khaddi Sagnia at the unique and last jump in the last battle. This new rule was also used at the Stockholm meeting to make the event more dynamic and surprising.

Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk at Doha | Photo: Matthew Quine
Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk at Doha | Photo: Matthew Quine

On the other hand, there was the discipline of the year: Pole Vault Men. We talked at Lausanne’s meeting that this discipline is having its good days. Diamond League has given a shot to pole vault this year in every meeting, and especially to men’s pole vault. Why? Mondo Duplantis is the reason. The young prodigy athlete is the new star in athletics: he has broken out twice the world record this year and last week he also broke the outdoor world record in Rome. If you also add the fact that Duplantis gives a great show to the audience, especially if American Sam Kendricks and Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie are around, why not invite them to the last meeting of the year?

However, the Gold Trio was out of gas and the hot was not their best friend to give an incredible performance as they gave to the audience in Lausanne.

Mondo Duplantis, Renaud Lavillenie and Sam Kendricks | Photo: Matthew Quine
Mondo Duplantis, Renaud Lavillenie and Sam Kendricks | Photo: Matthew Quine

Kendricks and Lavillenie had some troubles and failed attempts in Doha but they finally could end up the contest at 5.82. For Mondo, there were not as many struggles as Sam and Renaud had – he cleared 5.82 at the first attempt and the others at the last one. However, the Swede was not having his best day and, after a long season full of reports, cameras, and interviews, tiredness appeared on the scenario. He tried 5.92 twice, and then he moved the bar to 6.00 to win the competition with a mark that it has been really easy to clear this year for him. But Duplantis did not clear it, and he ended up winning the competition just because he was the athlete with fewer attempts failed. The Gold Trio finished the season at 5.82.

Diamond League 2020 brought the curtain down to the most unconventional edition. After several postponements, cancellations, and changes in the calendar, Diamond League finally could give big moments this season: Mondo Duplantis’s world outdoor record in Rome, Joshua Cheptegei world record and Jakob Ingebrigtsen European record in Monaco, Karsten Warholm’s races close to the world record, Lausanne’s pole vault meeting… At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody was afraid of the fact that athletics was going to be canceled at all until next year. Now, with Doha's last meeting, Diamond League has proved that athletics will always be alive.

Next year will be more and better, of course. And we hope it will be as usual as always.

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