The world’s best athletes are currently participating an exciting show at Weltklasse Zürich at the Diamond League 2023. At Letzigrund Stadium, there were multiple scrambles in the final attempts and at the finish line as athletes put up incredible performances.
Just like what they did at the recently ended World Athletics Championships in Budapest, numerous Olympic and world champions are successfully impacting the competition.
The favourites in the post-world championship showdown prevailed in Zurich’s packed Letzigrund Stadium. In five out of six Wanda Diamond League events, the world championships figured out how to eclipse their rivals once more.
The favorites are once again winning the women’s 100m/200m heat, with a surprising Swiss appearance in the 200m.
Mujinga Kambundji had an enormous uproarious welcome from the 25,000 fans during the athletes’ introduction. Furthermore, the positive energy appeared to go directly to Switzerland’s fastest woman’s legs.
The 60m world indoor champion went out fast against 100m title holder Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) and Olympic hero Elaine Thompson-Herah (JAM) who came in fourth eventually.
Timing 11.08, the team’s number one lost to the world’s fastest woman – who also sports the longest nails – by a simple two tenths of a second.
“The people here are fantastic here. And I hope that their love will always be there, no matter how fast I am running”, Richardson said after the race.
Mujinga Kambundji spontaneously decided to run the 200m as well.
“Yesterday, we had this idea to try and run both races, if a lane were to become available,” Kambundji explained after the successful test on her damaged foot. “I am very happy with the two races here. Zurich just rocks!”
Meanwhile, Swiss national record holder proceeded to put fourth again in the 200m only 50 minutes after her most memorable appearance. With a time of 22.46 seconds, her performance appeared convincing.
Title holder Shericka Jackson surpassed her opponents, very much as she did in Budapest. Timing 21.82, she missed the Wanda Diamond League record of 21.74, which Shaunae Mill operator Uibo (BAH) had set at Letzigrund Arena last year, by only a couple of hundredths of a second.
400m Olympic top dog Miller Uibo got back in the saddle (51.83) in the public program of events after getting back from a four-month child break.
Another Swiss athlete Jason Joseph also accomplished another national record in the 110m of the public program. On the opposite side, Ditaji Kambundji who is the country’s fastest female hurdler had equipped for the final in Budapest, where she came in the seventh position.
At only 21 years, the European U23 champion was part of the Weltklasse Zürich international programme of events for the third time already. In her first two appearances, she had placed eighth and ninth.
This time around, the Swiss hurdling princess progressed to sixth place in 12.73.
“The support we get from the crowd is just so amazing, so loud,” she said Ditaji Kambundji, speaking for her all her colleagues.
World champion Danielle Williams (JAM/12.43) was the one to take the 100m h Zurich Trophy – the first win for her at Letzigrund Stadium.
“I haven’t had much time to celebrate my win in Budapest yet,” she explained. For her, there is still the Wanda Diamond League Final in Eugene (USA) to run. “I definitely will after that final competition.”
Yet again, Winfred Mutle Yavi (BHR/9:03.19) was the fastest in the 3000m SC at the Wanda Diamond League in Zurich. In a close finish, the “dancing” world champion kept world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN/9:03.70) at bay in a scenario that looked like the Budapest final.
Furthermore, in the triple jump, Olympic and best on the planet and world record holder Yulimar Rojas (VEN) won once more. Her results, 15.15m (two times), denoted her thirteenth Wanda Diamond League win, and the fiery South American, as well, celebrated her historic accomplishment with a little dance.
1500m specialist Laura Muir (GBR/1:57.73) managed to outwit her 800m colleagues. The two Swiss runners in the field – European U23 champion Audrey Werro (7th/1:59.50) and Lore Hoffmann, who had placed fourth in the 2022 European championships (8th/2:00.09) – contributed much to the exciting race. Werro went out fast and was rewarded with a new national U20 record.
After four years, the 4x100m relay race returned to Letzigrund Stadium and concluded the programme of events. The Swiss team treated their home crowd to an exciting closing show just before the actual fireworks went off, missing the win by a mere eight hundredths of a second.
Natacha Kouni, Salomé Kora, Géraldine Frey, and Melissa Gutschmidt, the “Red Jets”, dashed around the track in 42.86, only to be caught by the team from the Netherlands on the last metres. Anchor Gutschmidt literally flew across the finish line – and from there directly on into the warmth of the SWISS Athletes Lounge.
The men’s competition:
Noah Lyles (USA) became a triple title holder last week, and subsequently the one to beat in the Weltklasse Zürich 200m. The 26-year-old didn’t relax, despite the fact that he needed to battle right until the end.
The run star, who fans know hin for playing out the Weltklasse Zürich song “Souvenir”, hurled himself across the end goal, barely beating 19-year-old talent and kinsman Erriyon Knight. The verdict: 19.80 and 19.87. Zharnel Hughes (GBR) was the third competitor to complete the race in a sub-20 second result (19.94).
His latest win at Weltklasse Zürich further bolstered the confidence of the current king of sprint. And he was not willing to share the crown with any of his opponents just yet, as he explained after the race.
World recordholder and Olympic and triple world champion Karsten Warholm is undeniably the superstar of the event in the 400m hurdles. His approach to his races is to go out fast and lead early on.
Not for the first time at Letzigrund Stadium, but his plans were thwarted. World championship silver medallist Kyron McMaster had already managed to catch up with him at the Zurich finish line twice (in 2017 and 2018). And the British Virgin Islander prevailed in 47.27 again, defeating Warholm by merely three hundredths of a second.
2022 world champion Alison dos Santos (BRA/47.62) came in third. A third defeat for Warholm on Zurich’s Conica track, who might be looking for a remedy to avoid a “MacMaster trauma”. McMaster, on the other hand, was very happy to win again.
“It feels great to win after the world championships,” he said. “The crowd here is always supportive and incredibly loud. There are more people in this stadium tonight than there are people at home on my island.”
Sam Kendricks, the two-time world champion who did not qualify for the championships in Budapest, challenged Armand Duplantis at 5.95 meters in the pole vault event. Kendricks did make a few unsuccessful attempts during the competition.
Yet, when the bar was set at 6m, the world record holder and Olympic and best on the planet showed the explanations behind his hotshot status when he cleared the 6m as the only rival and won unsurprisingly. Kendricks came in second (5.95m) and KC Lightfoot (USA) came in third (5.85m).
Duplantis said, it was not easy to win all the time.
“I felt tired and had no energy after the world championships. But people are expecting me to jump high.”
Nevertheless, he did manage to get into world record mood. His third attempt at 6.23m was almost successful.
In the110m hurdles, Swiss national record holder Jason Joseph came into the race with quite a bit of anger. He had qualified for the world championship final in Budapest last week, but was left bitterly disappointed when he placed seventh. Settling the score took him 13.08 seconds and earned him a new national record.
The high jump competition offered some particularly emotional moments when Loïc Gasch made the run-ups in his athletics career. The national record and world indoor championship silver medallist left the stage visibly moved, as his opponents and the crowd cheered, and Co-Meeting Director Andreas Hediger congratulated him on his achievements after his final attempt.
Other winners of the night included Yared Nuguse (USA/1500m), Yomif Kejelcha (ETH/5000m), Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT/high jump), Miltiadis Tentoglou (GRE/long jump), and Jakub Vadlejch (CZE/javelin throw).