Jackson, Levy and Dacres cop gold, Blake's struggles continue at Paris Diamond League

Monday, July 02, 2018

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PARIS, France (CMC) — While the Jamaican trio of Shericka Jackson, Ronald Levy and Fedrick Dacres all copped gold medals at the Paris Diamond League event on Saturday, Yohan Blake finished down the pack in the men's 100m.

Jackson raced to victory in the 200 metres in a personal best time of 22.05 seconds ahead of Jenna Prandini of the USA in 22.30 and Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast, who placed third in 22.50.

The 23-year-old, who specialises in the 400 metres, has been using the shorter sprint to improve her speed.

“I fell in love with the 400m. The 200m is also pretty good, so let's see. I have to consider which will be my main event next season,” Jackson explained after the race.

“Coming to this event, I had the feeling we can expect a lot and that anything can happen. All the girls were very strong and I am curious what comes next. I am happy for the PB and the win.”

Ronald Levy won the 110m hurdles at the Paris Diamond League for the second year running.

Levy clocked 13.18 seconds ahead of his compatriot Hansle Parchment, who equalled his fastest time for the season with 13.22 seconds.

“It is great to come back to Paris and win again. I thought I was going to improve my personal best tonight, but I had a poor start [and] did not execute well, so it was not close to my ideal race,” Levy said afterwards.

“But still it was enough to win, so I am happy. My personal best is the main target for me this season, and I think I am not far from it.”

Dacres was an easy winner in the discus throw, recording a distance of 67.01 metres.

However, the news wasn't as good for former world champion Blake, who finished fifth in the 100m in a time of 10.03 seconds.

The race was won by American Ronnie Baker who registered a personal-best time of 9.88 seconds, which equals the fastest time in the world this season.

Meanwhile, Caster Semenya put her run-in with the IAAF over controversial new rules on testosterone firmly to one side as she scorched to the fourth-fastest time ever run in the women's 800m.

There was also an outstanding performance by Qatar's Abderrahman Samba, who set the second-fastest time ever in the men's 400m hurdles in balmy conditions of 29 degrees Celsius (84F) at the Charlety stadium in southern Paris.

Semenya, double Olympic champion (2012, 2016) and twice world champion (2009, 2017), completely dominated her two-lap sortie, leading from gun to tape to clock a scintillating 1min 54.25sec that left the large crowd gasping.

Only Kenyan Pamela Jelimo, in Zurich in 2008, Soviet Union's Nadezhda Olizarenko in 1980, and Czech world record holder Jarmila Kratochvilova (1:53.28) in 1983 have gone faster.

Semenya was initially tracked by Burundi's Olympic silver medallist and reigning world champ Francine Niyonsaba and American Ajee Wilson.

The 27-year-old South African hit the bell in a swift 56.12sec, gradually pulling away down the back straight before turning the screw from 200m and not letting up through to the line, maintaining her unbeaten form over the 800m since her elimination in the semi-finals of the 2015 worlds in Beijing.

It was the perfect tonic for Semenya, who, off the track, has turned to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in her challenge of IAAF rules on testosterone occurring in female athletes that are to be introduced on November 1.

Naturalised Qatari Samba carried on his remarkable start to the season, scorching to the second-fastest time ever over the gruelling event.

His 46.98 seconds winning time edged him ever closer to the world record of American Kevin Young set back in 1992. It also beat the season's best of 47.02 set by Antigua's Rai Benjamin, who opted to run the 200m in Paris.

“I've said it before — I want to become the fastest man in the world and I work hard to achieve it,” said Samba, who has only been doing the event for two years, but has now added Paris to his list of Diamond League victories that already include Doha, Rome, Oslo and Stockholm this season.

“It feels great to be the second-fastest man in history. The world record is getting close, but I just want to improve step by step and run fast. I've improved my technique since last year and who knows, maybe I can be one second faster next year!”

Samba's 20-year-old rival Benjamin clocked a personal best of 19.99 seconds in the 200m behind American world indoor 400m record holder Michael Norman, his training partner, also 20, who clocked an admirable 19.84 seconds after two false starts.

Ronnie Baker wrapped up the sprints for the US team, timing a personal best of 9.88 seconds as France's Jimmy Vicaut, China's Su Bingtian and South African Akani Simibine all went sub-10 seconds.

— Additonal reporting

from AFP

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