DOHA: Jamaican sprint star Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce raced to victory in the 100m at the Diamond League in Doha on Friday in a confidence boost in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
The 34-year-old four-time world champion timed an impressive season's best of 10.84 seconds for the win, another important step in her quest to become the first female athlete to win three Olympic 100m golds after previously topping the podiums in 2008 and 2012 in Beijing and London respectively.
Fresh from finishing fourth in the opening elite meeting in a wet, wind-swept Gateshead last week, Fraser-Pryce made no mistake in the much balmier surroundings of the Qatari capital.
Fraser-Pryce, who also won 200m silver at the 2012 London Games and 100m bronze in Rio in 2016, beat home Nigerian Blessing Okagbare (10.90) and American Javianne Oliver (11.03).
"I'm happy that I put together a good race, and of course I'm happy that I won because its far away from the fourth place that I did last time," the Jamaican said.
"It's going to be my final Olympic appearance so I hope it will be good. The last three Olympics I went to I was able to stand on the podium and I'm hoping to be able to make it there again."
Doha is the second stop on the 13-leg Diamond League circuit, with now only five more elite meetings before the Olympic Games in Japan, which start on July 23 after being postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Arguably the highest-quality field of the night was in the women's triple jump, which had the top three from the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2019 Doha worlds in the field.
Coming out on top was in-form Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas, whose first effort of 15.15m was enough for victory ahead of Jamaican pair Kimberly Williams and Shanieka Ricketts.
Rojas, the Olympic silver medallist in Rio who took the world titles in Doha and in London in 2017, jumped a personal best of 15.43m in Spain last week -- the furthest jump in the world this year to date and the second furthest of all time.
ON THE 'RIGHT PATH'
"We are on the right path," said Rojas. "I feel good physically and it's good for me, I'm happy to leave a footprint here in Doha.
"I enjoy this path and when it's Tokyo's turn, I'll be prepared and try to win the gold medal."
Reigning Olympic champion Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia, a former world champion and multiple world medallist, including bronze in 2019, opened her summer campaign with an eighth place (13.86m).
There were victories for Kenya in the men's 800m and 1500m, and women's 800m.
First Faith Kipyegon, world 1500m silver medallist, won the two-lap race in 1:58.26 before world champion Timothy Cheruiyot blasted to a win in the 1500m in 3:30.48 and Wyclife Kinyamal won the 800m in a rapid 1:43.91.
American Kenny Bednarek stormed to victory in the men's 200m, edging Canada's Andre de Grasse by one-hundredth of a second to win in 19.88sec.
Bednarek's compatriot Justin Gatlin, the five-time Olympic medallist and a 12-time world medallist who served a four-year ban for doping, came in fifth in 20.49sec.
"I felt good, I was a bit nervous, but I'm exited that I got first place," said Bednarek.
"I'll try to be even better again the next time."
American Rai Benjamin, the joint third fastest man in the event in history and 2019 world silver medallist behind Norwegian sensation Karsten Warholm, scorched to a meeting record in the men's 400m hurdles, clocking 47.38sec.
Arch rival Abderrahman Samba of Qatar could only finish fourth, albeit in a season's best of 48.26sec, as Brazil's Alison dos Santos and British Virgin Islander Kyron McMaster rounded out the podium.
There was an upset in the women's pole vault as American Katie Nageotte outclassed the world championships podium trio of neutral athlete Anzhelika Sidorova, American Sandi Morris and Greece's Katerina Stefanidi, the reigning Olympic champion.
Nageotte claimed the win with a best of 4.84m.
Another American, Michael Norman, set a world leading time of 44.27sec in winning the 400m. -- AFP