DOHA, Qatar — Olympic champion Thomas Rohler threw the javelin farther than anyone else has done for more than 20 years at the Diamond League opener in Doha, while Akani Simbine was the surprise winner of the 100 metres on Friday.
Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse was a disappointing fifth in his first individual race of the season.
Rohler moved up to second in the all-time list of longest javelin throwers, with the sixth best-ever throw. The 25-year-old German recorded a world-leading distance of 93.90 metres to win, leaving him behind only Czech double Olympic champion Jan Zelezny, who holds the top five throws, including the world record of 98.48 in 1996.
Simbine, who ran 9.92 earlier in the year, was the only runner under 10 seconds in windy conditions in the men’s 100. The 23-year-old South African’s 9.99 was almost one-tenth of a second better than Asafa Powell’s 10.08, while Justin Gatlin was fourth with 10.14. Femi Ogunode was third on 10.13.
De Grasse, from Markham, Ont., was fifth in 10.21. He won three medals last year at the Rio Olympics.
Caster Semenya, Kendra Harrison and Elaine Thompson picked up victories on the night.
The much anticipated battle between Semenya, the two-time Olympic champion, and Genzebe Dibaba never materialized in the 800 as the South African convincingly won.
Semenya, who was unbeaten over the distance in 2016, posted a world-leading time of 1:56.61, ahead of Kenya’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist Margaret Nyairera Wambui, who clocked 1:57.03.
Ethiopia’s Dibaba, the reigning 1500 world champion who has decided to focus on 800 this season, finished fifth in a disappointing 1:59.37.
Semenya said “the race was fantastic and the field was great.”
World record-holder Harrison won the 100 hurdles in 12.59, ahead of Germany’s Cindy Roleder in 12.90. Phylicia George of Markham, Ont., was sixth in 13.14.
In the women’s 200, Olympic champion Thompson won in 22.19, with world champion Dafne Schippers coming in 0.26 behind.
Home fans saw Qatar’s Abderrahaman Samba edge American Kerron Clement in the men’s 400 hurdles, while Mutaz Barshim was a league apart in high jump, successfully clearing 2.36 metres to beat Britain’s Robbie Grabarz on 2.31.
LaShawn Merritt finished second in the men’s 400 on 44.78, behind Bahrain’s Steven Gardiner on 44.6. Another American, Tony McQuay, was third in 44.92.
“I could have executed better, but it was a little windy out there,” Merritt said. “It’s the start of the season so I feel good.”
American Michelle Carter won the women’s shot put with a throw of 19.32. That was nowhere near her Rio gold medal-winning effort of 20.63 but still 33 centimetres better than second-placed Anita Marton of Hungary with 18.99.
Triple-jumpers Christian Taylor (17.25) and Omar Craddock (17.08) led a 1-2 for the U.S.
Katerina Stefanidi of Greece won the women’s pole vault with a jump of 4.80 metres. Alysha Newman, a native of Delaware, Ont., was tied for seventh at 4.25.
The next IAAF Diamond League meet is in Shanghai on May 13.