ROME (Reuters) - Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana ran the second fastest women’s 5,000 meters in history as she missed out on the world record by just over a second at the Rome Diamond League on Thursday.
The world champion finished more than 20 seconds ahead of Mercy Cherono of Kenya in 14:12.59 but failed to break the 14:11.15 set by compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba eight years ago.
World silver medalist Justin Gatlin won the 100 meters in a non-Diamond League race by edging fellow American Ameer Webb. The time was slower than a meet record of 9.75 seconds set last year.
Gatlin ran 9.93 seconds ahead of Webb (9.94) and European record holder Jimmy Vicaut (9.99) of France, the only three to dip under 10 seconds at the Olympic Stadium.
Rising prospect Webb at least had the consolation of having earlier coasted to victory in the 200 in 20.04 seconds.
World champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa won the men’s 400 in 44.19 seconds while compatriot Caster Semenya equaled her world leading time this year in the 800 with a comfortable victory in 1:56.64.
“Now I need to be consistent, to maintain this shape until the Olympics,” said Semenya of the August Games. “My dream, my main goal, is of course Olympic gold.”
Olympic and world champion Greg Rutherford of Britain won the long jump with a season’s best 8.31 meters, the mark he registered to take gold at London 2012.
“That was not bad,” he said. “A hugely important step toward the European Championships (next month) and the Olympics.”
Triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia extended her winning sequence to 34 with a leap of 14.78 meters ahead of Olga Rypakova (14.51) and Shanieka Thomas (14.46).
“I had to fight in the third jump,” said Ibarguen. “I am focused on the Olympics, I won a silver medal in London and this year I will give anything to take the gold.”
The loudest cheers came in the high jump where local hero Gianmarco Tamberi cleared 2.30 meters to finish third behind Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko and Britain’s Robbie Grabarz.
Valerie Adams of New Zealand, who had shoulder and elbow surgery last year, won the shot put with a season’s best 19.69 meters with Anita Marton of Hungary second on 18.98.
“This competition was good,” said Adams. “I guess this year I’m more motivated than ever, 2016 is Olympic year. Last year was really tough for me.”
Writing by Ken Ferris; Editing by Tony Jimenez