- September 11, 2021
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World javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber has earned another podium place at a major meeting as she finished as Australia's top performer with her second-placed finish in the season-ending Diamond League final in Zurich.
While the ever-consistent Stewart McSweyn delivered one final excellent 1500m run to finish third and pip his domestic rival Ollie Hoare, the Aussie contingent still predictably had to settle for only minor places in the star-studded Weltklasse meeting on Thursday.
The main hope at the Letzigrund Stadium had been Canberra's 29-year-old Barber, a steely big-time performer who, in the absence of Olympic champion Liu Shiying, must have fancied improving on her bronze medal-winning effort at the Tokyo Games.
She did just that, finishing second after briefly taking the second round lead with a throw of 62.68 metres.
Yet Germany's Christin Hussong then dominated with a 64.20m effort in the next round before she improved to 65.26m last time out.
McSweyn and Hoare proved support acts in a brilliant metric mile duel which saw world champion Timothy Cheruiyot just manage to hold off a slightly weary-looking Olympic gold medallist Jakob Ingebrigtsen down the finishing straight to win in 3 minutes 31.37 seconds.
The two Aussies had their own personal battle with Tasmanian McSweyn pulling away at the end to clock 3:32.14 for third, while US-based Sydneysider Hoare's 3:32.66 just behind marked his outdoor personal best.
The doughty Linden Hall also continued her aggressive front-running style in the equivalent women's race before fading into sixth place in 4:03.50 – the same position she finished in Tokyo – while up ahead, two all-time greats, Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan, enjoyed another fantastic head-to-head.
In perhaps the race of the night, the Kenyan double Olympic 1500m champion Kipyegon eventually outlasted the Dutch 5,000m/10,000m Tokyo heroine Hassan by just 0.22sec, winning in 3:58.33.
"Faith Kipyegon, she is really one of the greatest athletes," sighed Hassan, warning that "next year, I will train my speed and I will be amazing!" She, of course, already is.
Sydney's Olympic semi-finalist Rohan Browning again mixed it with the fastest 100m men in the business, eventually fading to sixth in 10.18 seconds after a fine start as American Fred Kerley, runner-up in Tokyo, powered to victory in 9.87sec, ahead of Canadian Andre de Grasse (9.89).
De Grasse also had to settle for second in his Olympic-winning 200m discipline, finishing two-hundredths of a second behind American Kenneth Bednarek (19.70sec).
Newcastle's Catriona Bisset came home seventh in the 800m (1:59.66) as British teenage Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson again demonstrated why she's one of the new wave stars, taking victory in 1:57.98.
Predictably, Jamaica's Elaine Thompson-Herah topped off her golden year with an emphatic victory in the women's 100m, following up her Olympic 100/200m double by demolishing the field in 10.65sec, way clear of Briton Dina Asher-Smith (10.87).
"I am very happy with my race," enthused Thompson-Herah. "It's good to add a Diamond League trophy to my collection, it has been a long season so I was just happy to cross the line healthy."