World and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce finished just fifth in the Shanghai Diamond League 100m on Sunday in a setback to her bid for a third straight world title.
In the season’s second Diamond League meeting, David Oliver stormed to victory in the 110m hurdles, and Almaz Ayana won the women’s 5,000m in a world-leading 14min 14.32sec.
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim leapt 2.38m to win his high jump battle with Bohdan Bondarenko, and Olympic title-holder Kirani James took out the 400m in a clear statement ahead of the August world championships in Beijing.
But Fraser-Pryce suffered a big loss in her first 100m of the season, behind Nigerian winner Blessing Okagbare and Jamaican team-mate Veronica Campbell-Brown, who was fourth.
“The feeling is OK,” said 28-year-old Fraser-Pryce, who now has three months to find form before the world championships. “I am looking forward to my next race. What comes, comes.”
Okagbare, who won the 200m and the long jump at last year’s meet in Shanghai, was ecstatic at her victory.
“It is not easy to compete with the best in the world but I won,” she said. “Shanghai loves me and the track loves me.”
Watched by recently retired Chinese great Liu Xiang, America’s David Oliver clattered four barriers in the 110m hurdles but still managed to beat a top-class field.
The powerful world champion clocked 13.17 to finish two-hundredths ahead of Cuba’s Orlando Ortega with Aries Merritt, the Olympic champion and world record-holder, third.
“Although it is a season’s best, I think I can run faster,” America’s Oliver said. “My main goal is to win Beijing but also to win the Diamond race.”
In the 5,000m, Ethiopia’s Ayana ran a stunning race to clock the third best time in history, threatening compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba’s 2008 world record of 14:11.15.
“I didn’t know I was so close to the world record,” she said.
“During the race, I went faster and faster. I was surprised that my body could do that.”
Ayana, who led after five laps in Shanghai and broke away not long after the half-way point, said she would make an attempt at the record at the world championships.
In the men’s 400m, James powered across the finishing line on 44.66 secs, well ahead of Americans Tony McQuay in second and world champion LaShawn Merritt in third.
It provided a psychological boost for James as he looks ahead to Beijing, where he will try to reclaim the world title from Merritt, the current holder.
“It is always a great atmosphere and a great field,” he said, following his second successive victory at the Shanghai meet.
“It was very tough but I am very happy,” the Grenadian added.
After the meet, Shanghai Stadium bade a fond farewell to local hero Liu, the injury-hit former Olympic champion hurdler who announced his retirement last month.
The former 110m world record-holder was clearly emotional and repeatedly paused during a speech in which he thanked his fans and said he had been “moved” by their support.
Liu won China’s first track and field Olympic gold at the Athens 2004 Olympics, but suffered agonising injury breakdowns at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
“I have been moved by your concern for me, your understanding and your encouragement,” said Liu.
“I am grateful and very honoured,” added the 31-year-old, his eyes glazing as he struggled to contain his emotions. – Agence France-Presse