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Highlights From the 2024 Marrakech Diamond League

Highlights From the 2024 Marrakech Diamond League

Highlights From the 2024 Marrakech Diamond League | Afrocritik

At the first 14 meets of the Diamond League, the top eight finishers in each discipline are awarded points: the winner receives eight points, the runner-up gets seven points, third place earns six points, and so on, with the eighth-place finisher receiving one point.

By Tuka Letura 

The Diamond League is an annual series of elite track and field athletic competitions. It consists of 15 meetings held in different locations worldwide, featuring various track and field events like sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws, and middle-distance races. Athletes earn points at each meeting based on their performance, and the top performers in each event qualify for a final championship event where they compete for the Diamond Trophy and a cash prize. It’s essentially a prestigious circuit that brings the best athletes in the world together to compete.

Participation in the Diamond League is by invitation only, and invitations are extended based on athletes’ performances from the previous season, with the top performers in each discipline receiving invitations.

The 2024 Diamond League season began in April, with the first and second meetings held in Xiamen and Suzhou, China, on the 20th and 27th, respectively. The third meeting was held at Suheim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on May 10. The latest and fourth meeting, the Marrakech Diamond League, just concluded in Marrakech, Morocco, on May 19th. 

Marrakech, often called the “Red City” due to its iconic red sandstone buildings, is a major economic centre and home to palaces, gardens, mosques, and bustling souks. The city is a tourist haven and a growing hub for continental and international sporting events. 

The Grand Stade de Marrakech was the stage for this event. This stadium, with a capacity of 45,000, has previously hosted various international competitions, including the IAAF Continental Cup in 2014. 

The disciplines featured in the Diamond League include 100-metre sprints, 110-metre hurdles, 200-metre sprints, 400 metres, 400-metre hurdles, 800 metres, 1,500 metres, 3,000-metre steeplechase, 3,000/5,000-metre race, high jump, long jump, triple jump, pole vault, shot put, discus throw, and javelin throw. 

Here’s a recap of events from the just concluded meet in Marrakech, with a spotlight on competing African athletes. 

Women’s 200 metres 

In the women’s 200 metres, Jamaican sprinter, Shericka Jackson, to no one’s surprise, finished on top with a time of 22.82 seconds, earning 8 points, despite a headwind of -1.

Maboundou Koné of Ivory Coast won the silver medal in the 200 metres with a time of 22.96 seconds to earn 7 points. She previously ran as part of the Ivory Coast 4x100m relay team that qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics at the 2024 World Relays Championships in Nassau, Bahamas, this month

Third place went to Hélène Parisot of France, who finished in 23.02 seconds, earning 6 points.

Women’s 800 metres 

22-year-old South African Prudence Sekgodiso delivered a stunning performance, clocking a personal best of 1:57.26, and improving her previous best by 0.79 seconds to earn her first title in the 800m in the Diamond League. This was the first time the South African had achieved a time below 1:58.00, as her previous personal best of 1:58.05 was set in Pretoria in early March. It is also the world-leading record time in the women’s 800m.

Highlights From the 2024 Marrakech Diamond League | Afrocritik
South African Prudence Sekgodiso making a new personal record at the Diamond League

 Sekgodiso is having a breakout season, winning all three of her 800-metre races this year in under 2:00 mins and securing a victory in the 1500 metres at the South African championships. She is poised to make the Olympic final later this summer and could emerge as a dark horse contender for a medal.

In second place was Ethiopian 800m specialist, Habitam Alemu, a former national record holder,  who finished with a time of 1:57.70, losing her lead in the final 50 metres to Sekgodiso.

It was an all-African affair in the top three as Beninese Gabriela Gajanová clocked a time of 1:59.96, securing third place just behind Sekgodiso and Alemu.

Women’s 5,000

The chase for a world-leading time fell short as none of the women were willing to push the pace after the pacers stepped off the track.

Ethiopian Medina Eisa, who is the 2022 World U20 champion and finished sixth at the 2023 World Championships, was among the leading pack at the bell, along with three other runners. 

In a thrilling finish, Eisa managed to hold off her compatriot Fotyen Tesfay, winning by a mere five-hundredths of a second with a time of 14:34.16, while Tesfay finished in 14:34.21.

In third place, sandwiched between Eisa and Tesfay, and two other Ethiopians, Melknat Wudu and Likina Amebaw, was Kenyan Edinah Jebitok, who finished with a personal best of 14:35.64, completing a top five of four Ethiopians and one Kenyan. 

Other women’s events include Women’s Shot Put, Women’s Pole Vault, Women’s 400-metre Hurdles, and Women’s High Jump. 

Men’s 100m Sprint 

In a race where Jamaican national 100m champion, Rohan Watson, and 2023 European Athletics U23 100m Champion, Jeremiah Azu led from lanes two and three, Emmanuel Eseme made a strong finish from lane 8 to win. The Cameroonian’s effort in the second half of the race helped him secure victory with a time of 10.11 seconds, despite a slight headwind (-0.8 m/s). 

Emmanuel Eseme scaled
Emmanuel Eseme

The 2023 African Games 100m Champion defeated 2021 Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse, who finished second in 10.19 seconds, while 34-year-old Yohan Blake came eighth with a time of 10.41 seconds. A commendable feat and certainly one of the many peaks of his career. 

Men’s 800m

Diamond League champion and 2023 Worlds silver medallist Emmanuel Wanyonyi secured a win against a strong 800m contention. Just like the Women’s 800m, it was two Africans neck and neck for first place. Wanyonyi surged in front, with fellow Kenyan, Wyclife Kinyamal, joining him as they began to break away. Despite a late push from the chase group led by Botswanan, Tshepiso Masalela who eventually finished in fourth place, Wanyonyi held on to win in 1:43.84, with Kinyamal close behind in 1:43.98.

At just 19, Wanyonyi aims to upgrade his Worlds silver to Olympic gold, starting 2024 impressively with two 1:43 victories and a mile win at the Adizero Road to Records meet. Wanyonyi has won the last three meets in Morocco, adding his 2024 success to that of 2023 and 2022.

Meanwhile, Olympic and world champion Emmanuel Korir, who struggled with a calf injury in 2023, had a disappointing season opener, finishing last. The Kenyan was off the pace from the start and clocked 1:52.14, significantly slower than his personal best. 

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Men’s Steeplechase

Reigning Olympic and world champion, Soufiane El Bakkali, kicked off his 2024 season with a narrow victory in the men’s steeplechase, clocking 8:09.40. The race was initially paced for a world lead time of 8:07.25, held by Kenyan Samuel Firewu, but fell short.

Ethiopian Getnet Wale and Kenyan Amos Serem finished in second and third, with times of 8:09:78 and 8:10.82 respectively. Although Wale closed the gap by the last water jump, El Bakkali managed to slightly edge out Wale in the final straight, finishing just ahead of Wale at 8:09.78. Firewu finished fourth with a time of 8:11.73.

Mens steeplechase scaled
Soufiane El Bakkali and Getnet Wale at the finish line

2016 Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto had a disappointing race, finishing last in 8:43.61. Despite this close win, El Bakkali’s fans need not worry. He mentioned before and after the race that he had been dealing with an injury but chose to compete since the event was on home soil.

Men’s 1500

No pole position for any African here, as Ethiopian steeplechase star, Lamecha Girma, who came closest in a fourth-place finish, found himself behind Azeddine Habz of France, who finished in first place, and two Brits George Mills and Elliot Giles who finished in second and third place respectively. 

Lamecha’s, younger brother, Kuma Girma, finished in ninth place with no points. Three other Africans pulled points from the race with Hafid Rizqy from Morocco, Teddese Lemi from Ethiopia, and Tshepo Tshite from South Africa finishing sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

Other men’s events included Men’s Discus Throw and Men’s Triple Jump.

At the first 14 meets of the Diamond League, the top eight finishers in each discipline are awarded points: the winner receives eight points, the runner-up gets seven points, third place earns six points, and so on, with the eighth-place finisher receiving one point.

After these 14 events, the accumulated points are tallied. Based on their total points, the top six field athletes, the top eight performers in the 100- to 800-metre events, and the top 10 competitors in the 1,500-metre and long-distance events qualify for the season-ending championship event in Brussels. 

The final event spans two days and features an elite field of the year’s top performers competing for 32 Diamond League titles — one man and one woman in each of the 16 disciplines.

Winners of the final event receive the prestigious Diamond Trophy, a prize of $30,000, and a wild card entry to the World Athletics Championships.

Get the complete Marrakech standings here

The next meet is the Prefontaine Classic, which will be held on May 30, 2024, in Eugene, Oregon, USA.

Tuka Letura is an experienced sports writer with over five years of experience in the craft. He uses data and statistics to provide analysis and commentary. From regional to worldwide competitions, he has covered a wide range of sports-related events and topics. He is devoted to sharing his enthusiasm for sports with his audience and engaging them with interesting anecdotes and viewpoint

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