On an increasingly rainy evening, the Shanghai Diamond League yielded mixed results for the Australian contingent, as Henry Frayne and Kurtis Marschall recorded top-four finishes, whilst Kelsey Barber, Ryan Gregson and Stewart McSweyn finished mid-pack.
Frayne led the Australian group of five athletes, leaping past his previous best result at a Diamond League event (4th in Shanghai, 2012), to finish third and claim his first Diamond League podium finish. Frayne’s 8.15m jump was ultimately his only legal jump of the night amongst three fouls, as conditions worsened throughout the evening.
Frayne was optimistic about his Diamond League return, "Tonight I ticked all the boxes. I have had that many injuries over the past six years my body is not conditioned to jump six times, so the intention was always to have just four attempts (he passed in rounds four and six). The aim in future is just to continue to be injury-free. The distance 8.15m was not quite what I was hoping for, but I hope to come back for the Rome Diamond League and jump out to 8.30m, 8.40m or 8.50m."
Frayne’s Commonwealth rival Luvo Manyonga (RSA) claimed victory in the final round from Yuhao Shi (CHN), with both athletes tied at 8.43m through round five, Manyonga leapt to a new world-leading distance of 8.56m.
Marschall kept spectators on the edge of their seats throughout the evening requiring multiple attempts at each height, including an exciting third time clearance at 5.71m. The Commonwealth champion bowed out at 5.81m, but exhibited substantial composure in finishing fourth behind Changri Xue (CHN, 5.71m), Piotr Lisek (POL, 5.81m) and Renaud Lavillenie (FRA, 5.81m).
As driving rain hampered the majority of the Women’s javelin field, Kelsey Barber placed eighth with her first round throw of 57.47m. Huihui Lyu (CHN) claimed victory with a meeting record of 66.85m, as Marcelina Witek (POL) took second with 64.49m, and Eda Tugsuz rounded out the podium with a throw of 63.20m.
In a trying evening for middle distance racing, Gregson and McSweyn endured respectively brutal early pace. Gregson dealt skillfully with the firm early pace, whilst losing contact through 800m, the crafty 28-year old fought throughout the final lap, and was rewarded with a seasons best of 3:36.94, finishing 10th.
As the lead group passed through 1000m in 2:35.88, McSweyn was in for a difficult evening, as the unrelenting pace took the leading group to 3000m in 7:53.17, the evening’s valiant efforts had taken their toll. McSweyn faded to 11th, finishing in a time of 13:31.97, as the Balew Birhanu (BRN) and Paul Chelimo (USA) battled to the line, Birhanu claimed a physical victory in 13:09.64 (WL) to Chelimo’s 13:09.66.
Sean Whipp for Athletics Australia.
Image: Henry Frayne (Getty Images)