Shanghai (AFP) – Britain’s Reece Prescod burst out of nowhere to upstage world champion Justin Gatlin and beat the wet weather to win a thrilling 100m on the line in Shanghai on Saturday.
Running unnoticed out in lane number nine, the unheralded 22-year-old grabbed a shock victory by a whisker from China’s Su Bingtian with his time of 10.04sec, just 0.01sec shy of his personal best.
Su, who along with the home crowd thought he had retained his Diamond League Shanghai title, was second in 10.05sec, with fellow Chinese Xie Zhenye third.
The American Gatlin was sluggish out of the blocks and came a disappointing seventh while Canadian speedster Andre De Grasse, working his way back from a long injury layoff, was down in eighth.
It was Prescod’s first Diamond League triumph and the Briton said that while others toiled in the wet, he relished it.
“When I saw the rain tonight I thought, ‘Yes!” he said.
“I train in these conditions all the time in the East Midlands (of England), it suits me.
“My expectations going in was that I knew I had it in me as long as I executed my race.”
In the men’s 110m hurdles, Jamaica’s reigning world and Olympic champion Omar McLeod was left praying for victory on the finishing line before he could celebrate a third Shanghai win in a row.
His time of 13.16sec was the joint fastest in the world this year and it had to be to pip Cuban-born Spaniard Orlando Ortega.
McLeod said that his early season had been badly disrupted by various niggling injuries.
“Today I was running on blind trust,” said the 24-year-old, adding that he was “overcome with emotion”.
“It was great to come out here and complete the three-peat.”
– Kendricks flops –
In the men’s pole vault a highly anticipated battle between France’s world-record-holder Renaud Lavillenie and world champion Sam Kendricks of the United States failed to materialise.
On the eve of the Shanghai meet Kendricks had predicted “a dogfight”, but in the event it was nothing of the sort, the American going out early after failing to clear 5.61m, well below his personal best of 6.0m.
In hazy conditions and under occasional light showers that were to turn into heavy rain for the hurdles and 100m, Kendricks’ disappointment opened the way for his friend and great rival Lavillenie to win on countback from Poland’s Piotr Lisek, both clearing 5.81m.
The 25-year-old Kendricks refused to use the light rain at the time as an excuse, but said that he had been forced to hurry his warm-up.
“Every vault competition is its own challenge — here we had the rain, the new track, travelling so far,” he told AFP.
“Everything was rushed,” he said, detailing how the rain had hurt his chances.
“The competition starts very quickly and everyone has to make decisions very fast. Usually I am good at this, but today it caught me off guard.”
Another world champion, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, displayed some early season rustiness as she came second in the women’s 200m behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who won in a meeting-record 22.06sec.
There was concern meanwhile for China’s Shi Yuhao in the men’s long jump.
The 19-year-old lost the lead to South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga and then appeared to badly hurt his ankle when landing before being stretchered out of a soggy Shanghai Stadium.
Shanghai is the second stop in the Diamond League calendar.