Shericka Jackson outclassed Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah to win the women’s 200 metres at the Rome Diamond League meeting on Thursday as Fred Kerley took the men’s 100m title. Jamaican Thompson-Herah arrived in the Italian capital after 100m victories in Eugene and Rabat but the 29-year-old faced her toughest test in a 200m field featuring Briton Dina Asher-Smith and 400m Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.
Seven-times Olympic champion Allyson Felix returned for the first Diamond League appearance of her final track season but it was Olympic 100m bronze medallist Jackson who shot out of the blocks to win in 21.91 seconds.
Thompson-Herah, bidding to win her first individual world title in July, was second in 22.25 and Asher-Smith third in 22.27.
Jackson’s victory was a timely reminder of her ability after a blunder in the Tokyo Games heats last year — where she eased up too much and failed to reach the final — denied her the opportunity to challenge compatriot Thompson-Herah.
“I just wanted to come out and run a strong race, so I think I did pretty good,” said Jackson. “After the (Jamaican) trials, and everything goes well, my aim is to add a gold medal to my name. I have many individual medals at 400m and 100m, but I need to get that gold medal in any event that might be. This is my aim this season.”
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Kerley, second behind compatriot Noah Lyles in the season opener in Doha, eased to his first victory of the season in the absence of injured Olympic 100m champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs. The Olympic silver medallist clocked 9.92 to beat fellow Americans Kyree King and Cravont Charleston, who were second and third.
“I ran a season’s best, I can’t complain. I didn’t have to push a lot,” said Kerley. “I didn’t have to give 100%. I enjoyed the race and the crowd. “It was nice and easy. I’ll go home for the national trials and I expect a new personal best there.”
Nicholas Kimeli of Kenya eclipsed Eliud Kipchoge’s meeting record set in 2004, winning the 5,000m in 12:46.33 to make him the seventh fastest athlete over the distance. Italy’s Olympic high jump champion Gianmarco Tamberi drew some of the loudest cheers at the Stadio Olimpico but failed to win a first Diamond League competition at home in his fifth attempt, finishing third behind JuVaughn Harrison.
Slovenia’s in-form Kristjan Ceh captured his third Diamond League discus win of the season with a final effort of 70.72m. Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma broke the eight-minute barrier in 3000m steeplechase for the third time in a little over a week, sealing victory in 7:59.23 after similarly impressive efforts in Ostrava and Rabat.
Dutchwoman Femke Bol, the Tokyo Games bronze medallist in 400m hurdles, claimed gold with a time of 53.02 finishing ahead of Jamaica’s Janieve Russell and Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova. Ethiopia’s Hirut Meshesha followed up her 1,500m victory in Rabat last week with another comfortable win in 4:03.79, while Olympic champion Athing Mu dominated the 800m, the American clocking a world leading time of 1:57.01. The Diamond League continues next week with the season’s sixth meeting in Oslo.