Athletics - High jump world record under threat as Barshim wins in Rome

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim fended off a stacked high jump field as his world lead clearance of 2.41 metres was good enough to take victory in the Rome Diamond League.

Reuters
Athletics - High jump world record under threat as Barshim wins in Rome
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Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim competes in the men's high jump at the IAAF Diamond League in Rome (AFP)

Barshim’s failure at 2.43m left world champion Bohdan Bondarenko with the chance to snatch victory, but the Ukrainian narrowly clipped the bar with his final attempt.

The pair were joined by America’s Erik Kynard, Canada’s Derek Druoin and Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov in one of the strongest fields ever assembled.

With the five athletes expected to push each other to new heights, it seems inevitable that Javier Sotomayor’s longstanding world record of 2.45m will be eclipsed in 2014.

LaShawn Merritt bounced back from his photo-finish defeat to Kirani James in Eugene with a commanding performance in the 400m.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist blew away his rivals en route to clocking 44.48 seconds and moving clear in the overall standings.

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Tori Bowie ran a lifetime best of 11.05 seconds to earn a surprise triumph in the 100m as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s slump continued.

Jamaica’s Fraser-Pryce, who has struggled with a niggling leg injury since winning the Diamond League opener in Doha, finished eighth.

In the men’s 100m, Justin Gatlin was rarely troubled as he coasted to victory in 9.91s, although the event did not count towards the Diamond League standings.

Britain’s Adam Gemili, 20, clocked 10.07s – just two hundredths short of his personal best – to finish third and suggest that a sub-10 second run is on the horizon.

In the night's tighest finish, world 100m hurdles champion Brianna Rollins just got the better of compatriot Dawn Harper-Nelson with just one hundredth of a second separating the pair.

Rollins looked to have the race in control but Harper-Nelson surged late to force a photo finish, with the younger American taking victory in a world-leading 12.53. Queen Harrison was third for a US 1-2-3.

The much anticipated re-match between Rollins and Olympic champion Sally Pearson did not materialise after the Australian, second behind the American in Moscow, pulled out of the meeting earlier in the day.

Pearson said she would have risked suffering an injury by competing and pulled out as "a precaution".

"I am not injured but if I ran I either would've torn my hamstring or ran well off my best - either way was not an option for me," she tweeted.

Kenya's Silas Kiplagat surged late to reel in Djibouti's 2014 world indoor champion Ayanleh Souleiman to win the men's 1500m in 3:30.44.

Souleiman had clocked the fastest time for a mile race on U.S. soil when winning in Eugene but could not hang on down the straight and was overhauled by Kiplagat in the final 40 metres.

Kenya's double world champion Asbel Kiprop could not mount a challenge and clung on for third.

After a terrific indoor season, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba dominated a strong field to land the women's 5000 in 14:34.99, pulling clear of compatriot Almaz Ayana (14:37.16).

Germany’s Robert Harting landed four throws in excess of 66m to beat overall leader Piotr Malachowski and win the discus with a best of 68.36m.

Elsewhere, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams threw 20.01m to win the shot and Cuba’s Yarisley Silva cleared 4.70m to clinch pole vault victory.

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