Taking on a pair of world-class athletes in separate locations, Bahamian Olympic Champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo ran a modest 17.15 seconds in the women’s 150 meters (m) on Thursday, finishing second in the event at the Weltklasse Zürich Inspiration Games.
Running for Team North America, new mother Allyson Felix looked as impressive as ever, winning the event in a personal best time of 16.81 seconds. Miller-Uibo got a second place finish for Team World, and running for Team Europe, Mujinga Kambundji, of Switzerland, settled for third, in a personal best run of 17.28 seconds. In the unique team event, athletes ran on separate tracks in separate locations as the meet featured about 30 track and field superstars competing in eight disciplines across two continents around the world.
Miller-Uibo, 26, ran out of Bradenton, Florida – about a two-hour ride southwest from her home and training base in Orlando.
“I feel good about it. It was different but it was good for the fans and athletes around the world to have something to look forward to. I think I did well considering the strong winds.” she said.
Felix competed out Walnut, California, near Los Angeles; and Kambundji ran out of Zürich.
It was the first time the Diamond League staged such a unique event, but given the nature of the coronavirus and the reluctance of athletes to travel to different locations, organizers put together a special format, and from all indications, it was well-received.
“Very strange,” said 13-time World Champion Felix with a smile regarding the format. “It’s kind of like practice but not really, with no teammates. Running alone, it’s hard to challenge yourself, but I love this sport so any chance to get out here and run, I’m all about that.”
Miller-Uibo was well short of her national record of 16.23 seconds that was done at the Adidas Boost Boston Games two years ago, but this was just her second meet of the season and she is gradually getting back to form after being off the track for over three months due to the presence pf the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, this was her first loss in an event other than the women’s 400m in nearly three years. It was the first clash between herself and six-time Olympic Champion Felix since the 2017 London World Championships when Felix finished third and Miller-Uibo was fourth. The two years prior, they exchanged the top two spots at the Beijing World Championships and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics with Felix winning the world title in 2015 and Miller-Uibo claiming the Olympic title in 2016.
During the race on Thursday, it was difficult to determine a leader during the event that ran simultaneously in the three locations. However, as the trio approached the finish line, it was clear that Felix had a slight advantage. As for the winds, they were nearly identical for Miller-Uibo in Florida and Felix in California. Felix battled a 2.6 meters per second (mps) headwind, and Miller-Uibo had a 2.5mps headwind reading at her location. Kambundji ran with a 0.3mps tailwind behind her.
For Felix, it was the first of two victories for her on Thursday. She later came back and anchored her team to victory in another unique event, a 3x100m relay. The legendary athlete teamed up with Americans Candace Hill and Tianna Bartoletta to clock 32.25 seconds, ahead of a Swiss team that ran 32.50 seconds in Zürich and a Dutch squad that clocked 32.94 seconds in Arnhem, Netherlands.
“This is fun,” Felix said. “I can’t wait until we can do it in person.”
The only on-site face-off on the day was the men’s 100-yard dash in which Jimmy Vicaut, of France, Canadian Andre de Grasse and Olympic 110m hurdles Champion Omar McLeod met on the Bradenton track where they faced a 3.4mps headwind.
De Grasse won in 9.68 seconds, four one hundredths of a second ahead of Vicaut. McLeod was a distant third in 9.87 seconds. Meet organizers said the aim was not just to provide live sport for athletics fans across the globe, but also to inspire the next generation of track and field athletes in these extraordinary times.
The Wanda Diamond League is set to continue with the Herculis EBS 2020 Meeting at the Louis II Stadium, in Fontvieille, Monaco, on Friday August 14. Meet organizers are reportedly taking the necessary safety and social distancing precautions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The remaining Diamond League meets are compacted into a three-month schedule from August to October. The Diamond League meets will not include a series point score this year, so there will be no overall league winners.