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Just two weeks removed from the final track and field event at the Tokyo Olympics, many of the medalists from those Olympic Games were back for, in many cases, even more impressive performances at the beloved Prefontaine Classic.
Ten meet records and five national records were set – as five events saw the fastest times of the year – at the newly renovated Hayward Field on Saturday afternoon as some favorites were once again victorious and others faced upsets.
In the most anticipated race of the meet, Sha’Carri Richardson made her return to competition after serving a one-month ban that started June 28. Richardson received the ban after testing positive for marijuana at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, where she won the women’s 100m, disqualifying her for the Olympic team.
The 21-year-old, who in April ran the sixth-fastest time in history at 10.74 seconds, was entering her own Olympic race of sorts in Eugene, lining up against the three Olympic medalists from Tokyo and six of the eight Olympic finalists.
Richardson finished a surprising ninth in her comeback, last in the field at 11.14 seconds and .38 from the podium, which was a repeat of the Jamaican sweep in Tokyo.
“Coming out today was a great return to the sport,” Richardson said to NBC reporter Lewis Johnson on the broadcast. “I’m not upset with myself at all. This is one race. I’m not done. You know what I’m capable of. Count me out if you want to… I’m not done. I’m the sixth-fastest woman in this game ever, and can’t nobody ever take that from me. Congratulations to the winners, but they’re not done seeing me yet. Period.”
Elaine Thompson-Herah won in 10.54 seconds, the second-fastest time in history and 0.05 off Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record that has stood for over 33 years. The two-time reigning Olympic champion at both the 100m and 200m was followed by 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist and Tokyo silver medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 10.73 and Shericka Jackson in 10.76.
American Teahna Daniels, who was seventh in her Olympic debut, ran a 10.83 to lower her personal best by .15 and place fourth.
A few minutes earlier, Noah Lyles won the men’s 200m in a world-leading and meet record 19.52 seconds, a redemptive performance after taking bronze in Tokyo in 19.74.
“Well, to be honest, I walked out here on the track and I said, ‘Shoot! That’s a lot of people,’” Lyles remarked about running in front of a crowd for the first time in nearly two years. “I wasn’t even thinking about coming out here, I was going to shut it down. I had a talk with my therapist, she said that of course what happened in Tokyo happened; this isn’t Tokyo. I knew I was in shape and I didn’t get to show that off in Tokyo.”
In a U.S. sweep, Olympic silver medalist Kenny Bednarek was second in 19.8 and Lyles’ younger brother Josephus was third in a personal best 20.03.
Canada’s André de Grasse one-upped Fred Kerley, who took silver ahead of his bronze at the Olympics, to win the men’s 100m in 9.74 seconds. Kerley was second in 9.78, with Ronnie Baker third at 9.82.
Another Canadian, Marco Arop, who was seventh in his Olympic semifinal in the 800m, upset Kenyan Olympic medalists Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich, who won gold and silver in Tokyo. Arop’s 1:44.51 bested Rotich and Korir, who finished in 1:45.02 and 1:45.05, respectively.
Athing Mu and Courtney Frerichs broke their own American records in their events.
Mu last set the women’s 800m record on Aug. 3 to win Olympic gold in 1:55.21, then broke it in Eugene to win in a world-leading and meet record 1:55:04. The 19-year-old was in a league of her own, with Kate Grace taking second in 1:57.60.
Olympic silver medalist Frerichs broke a North America record that she held for over three years in the 3,000m steeplechase, lowering her 9:00.85 to 8:57.77 in finishing second to Kenya’s Norah Jeruto, who ran a world-leading 8:53.65.
World-leading times were also set in the non-Olympic mile races, with Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen taking the Bowerman Mile title in 3:47.24, also a national record and Diamond Meet record. Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei won the 2-mile race in 8:09.55 and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba took the women’s 2-mile title on Friday night in 9:00.75, a meet record.
Allyson Felix was added to the women’s 200m field on Wednesday and finished last in that race in 22.6 seconds after earning bronze in the Olympic 400m earlier this month and later becoming the most decorated U.S. Olympic track and field athlete with gold in the 4x400m relay. Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland won the 200 in 22.06, while Olympic bronze medalist Gabrielle Thomas was second (22.11) and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 2019 World champion, third (22.19).
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who won the Olympic 1500m in Tokyo, set a meet record of 3:53.23 in that race.
The field events were won by recent Olympic champions Ryan Crouser (shot put), Katie Nageotte (pole vault) and Pedro Pichardo (triple jump), plus reigning European indoor champion Iryna Gerashchenko (high jump). Crouser’s throw of 23.15 meters set a Diamond League record.
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