The jumps provided the biggest news from Tuesday's World Challenge Beijing meet in China. Defending Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova became the first woman to top the 2-meter mark this year, winning the event after clearing 2.02 meters (6 feet, 7½ inches). Meanwhile, China's Li Jinzhe, fresh from his victory in the Shanghai Diamond League meet, won the long jump after leaping 8.31/27-3. But Li injured his left elbow while landing and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Other highlights included Justin Gatlin's 100-meter victory in 9.91 seconds. LaShawn Merritt - who's run more 200- than 400-meter races this season as he bounces back from a hamstring injury - won the 200 in 20.40. Allyson Felix won the women's 200 in 22.36, while Hillary Yego added his name to the long list of Kenya's World Championship steeplechase hopefuls, winning the event in 8:09.17 over 2008 Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto.
Check out the full results from the Beijing meet.
Mo Farah won his first 5000-meter race of the year, in 13:15.68, at the High Performance Distance Classic in Eagle Rock, California last Friday. In the women's 1500, Mary Cain, 17, set a U.S. junior record of 4:04.62 while finishing a close second to Katie Mackey (4:04.60). Other winners included Nick Symmonds at 1500 meters and Jenny Simpson in the 800.
American Johnny Dutch ran a world-leading 48.02 in the 400-meter hurdles to edge 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Javier Culson in Saturday's Ponce Grand Prix in Puerto Rico.
China's Li Jinzhe thrilled the Shanghai crowd last Saturday by defeating a strong long jump field with a world-leading effort measuring 8.34 meters (27 feet, 4¼ inches). Overall, however, the season's second Diamond League meet was dominated by injury news, with several athletes returning from ailments while others sustained injuries during the meet. Indeed, Li's competitors included 2004 Olympic champion Dwight Phillips, who missed all of last season with an injury. Phillips placed 10th, leaping 7.62/25-0
Another Olympic champion, LaShawn Merritt, ran his first 400-meter race since his 2012 injury and placed second to Kirani James. James ran a world-leading 44.02 seconds to Merritt's 44.60. Look for Merritt and James to duel for 400-meter dominance all the way to the World Championships in August.
Aries Merritt began cramping up prior to his 110-meter hurdles race Saturday, then pulled off the track before reaching the first hurdle. Yelena Isinbayeva may also have suffered a minor injury. The Russian had already cleared 4.70/15-5 to win the pole vault when she felt pain in her leg trying to clear 4.85/15-11.
Carmelita Jeter, whose muscles cramped up at the Mt. SAC relays last month, left the Shanghai track on a stretcher after grabbing her thigh late in the 100-meter race. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the event in a world-leading 10.93.
Other notable events included 2012 World Junior champion Conseslus Kipruto's steeplechase victory, in a world-leading 8:01.16, plus veteran Tero Pitkamaki's triumph in the javelin, as he threw a 2013-best 87.60/287-4.
Check out the full results from the Shanghai meet. The Diamond League season moves to the United States for the addidas Grand Prix in New York on May 25.
Review the 2013 World Championship qualifying standards.
Brittney Reese unleashed the world's best long jump in nine years to help open the 2013 Diamond League season in Doha on May 9. Reese leaped a personal best 7.25 meters (23 feet, 9½ inches), the longest effort in the Diamond League's brief history.
Other field highlights from Doha included Sandra Perkovic winning the discus with a toss measuring 68.23/223-10, while Ryan Whiting continued his early-season shot put domination, winning with a personal best 22.28/73-1.
On the track, Amantle Montsho edged Allyson Felix in the 400 meters, 49.88 to 50.19, Justlin Gatlin won the 100 in 9.97 seconds, David Rudisha opened his season by taking the 800 in 1:43.83 and Abeba Aregawi won a fast early-season 1500 in 3:56.60.
Check out the full results from Doha. The Diamond League's next stop is this Saturday in Shanghai.
One day before the Doha meet, Usain Bolt returned from a brief injury timeout to barely edge fellow Jamaican Kemar Bailey Cole in the 100 at the Cayman Invitational. Bolt, clearly running cautiously after tweaking a hamstring recently, finished in 10.09 seconds. Carmelita Jeter won the women's 100 in a world-leading 10.95, while LaShawn Merritt continued his injury comeback by winning the 200 in 20.26.
American Tyson Gay visited the home of his key sprint rivals Saturday and posted the year's first sub 10-second 100 meters, winning the Jamaica International Invitational in 9.86 seconds. Kingston fans missed a chance to see Gay battle the island's native stars due to an epidemic of hamstring problems. Usain Bolt suffered a mild hamstring strain while training for the event, but should return shortly. Johan Blake tore a hamstring in April and probably won't compete again until June. Asafa Powell also missed the meet with a long-term hamstring problem.
Other successful Americans at the Jamaican meet included Dawn Harper-Nelson, who won the 100-meter hurdles in 12.62 seconds, plus Ryan Whiting, who threw a world-leading 21.47 meters (70 feet, 5 inches) in the shot put. The home fans did get to enjoy Veronica Campbell-Brown's win in the 100 (11.01 seconds), plus 200-meter victories by Nickel Ashmeade (20.0) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (22.38).
Surprising Olympic javelin gold medalist Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago returned to competition for the first time since London last Friday. He recorded the second-best toss of his career, a winning effort 84.39/276-10, at the TnT Elite Twilight Games in Trinidad.
The 2013 Diamond League series returns Friday as David Rudisha, Tomasz Majewski and Allyson Felix headline the opening meet in Doha, Qatar.
It's too early in the season to draw conclusions, but last weekend's Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa produced some interesting storylines that are worth watching as the outdoor season heats up.
A few events went as expected, with Brittney Reese winning the long jump in 6.94 meters (22 feet, 9¼ inches), although Janay DeLoach was close behind at 6.92/22-8½. Christian Taylor won the triple jump in 17.12/56-2, while Reese Hoffa took the shot put with a winning toss of 21.71/71-2. Luguelin Santos' victory in the 400 was also no surprise, but his time of 44.74 seconds this early in the year is impressive.
A pair of world record-holders didn't fare as well as some other favorites. Aries Merritt showed that he hasn't reached midseason form yet in the 110-meter hurdles, running 13.48 to finish second behind Jamaica's Andrew Riley (13.43). Yarisley Silva cleared 4.85/15-11 in the pole vault to beat Jenn Suhr, who set the world indoor mark in March. Additionally, Queen Harrison defeated all three of America's 2012 Olympians in the 100-meter hurdles, winning in 12.71.
The U.S. women's 4 x 800-meter relay record fell during the Penn Relays Saturday, as the quartet of Lea Wallace, Brenda Martinez, Ajee Wilson and Alysia Montano won in 8:04.31. The previous mark of 8:17.09 was set in 1983 by a team led by Mary Decker.
In marathon racing last weekend, Ethiopia's Dereje Debele won in Dusseldorf in a course record 2:07:48, while Francis Kiprop of Kenya broke the course mark in Madrid, winning in 2:10:37.
Sprinters and coaches can check out a new series on sprint technique, including articles about sprint mechanics, developing stride length, improving turnover rate and acceleration. Additionally, new profiles of hurdlers Jason Richardson and Dawn Harper have been posted, along with 4 x 400-meter relay tips and the schedule of events for the 2013 World Championships.
Fans at the annual Mt. San Antonio College Relays were treated to some good competition last weekend, including an all-star 4 x 100-meter women's race. The team of Blessing Okagbare, Mandy White, Carmelita Jeter and Lauryn Williams won the event in a fast 41.79 seconds, defeating the foursome of Dawn Harper, Allyson Felix, Jeneba Tarmoh and Ginnie Crawford, who finished in 42.96. Jeter later pulled up in the meet's 100-meter race with an apparent leg cramp that may force her out of her next meet or two while she recovers. Okagbare went on to win the 200 meters in a personal best 22.31.
On the men's side, highlights included a strong early-season performance from Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard, who won the high jump by clearing 2.34 meters (7 feet, 8 inches). Will Leer won the 5000 meters in 13:21.55, while Mike Rodgers took the 100 in 10.04 seconds. Ashton Eaton continued to tune up for the decathlon season by competing in the 110 hurdles and shot put, while also running a personal best 20.76 in the 200.
Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya made his marathon debut a huge success in Hamburg on Sunday, winning in a course record 2:05:30. In London, Ethiopia's Tsegay Kebede came from behind late in the race to win the prestigious marathon in 2:06:04, while Kenya's Priscah Jeptoo Kenya took the women's race in 2:20:15.
Sadly, the 117th Boston Marathon was struck by tragedy Monday, when two bombs planted near the finish line killed three spectators and injured more than 100 others. The attack occurred just past the marathon's four-hour mark, long after men's winner Lelisa Desisa (2:10:22) and women's champion Rita Jeptoo (2:26:25) finished the race. The timing was apparently intended to create the maximum casualties among friends and family cheering on the amateur runners who were completing the race. As of Tuesday morning, law enforcement officials have revealed no leads in the case. Anyone who attended the race who may have information about the attack, or video of the finish line area, is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-225-5324.
Outdoor track and field action heated up around the United States during the past week with several events at warm-weather sites. Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton competed in four of the 10 events at the Sam Adams Combined Events Invitational in California on April 5 and 6. Eaton showed that he hasn't gone soft after his London triumph as he ran a personal best 400-meter time of 45.64 seconds.
Promising 20-year-old American sprinter Octavious Freeman took the 100-200 double in 11.02 and 22.85 seconds, respectively, at the Florida Relays last Friday. Reese Hoffa established the world lead in the shot put at the same event on Saturday, with a strong early-season toss of 21.33 meters (69 feet, 11 inches).
Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia won the 5,000-meter race in Carlsbad, California for the third time, finishing in 13:21 on Sunday, while Ethiopia's Gelete Burka won the women's race in her first try, in 15:26.
In European action, Boru Tadese of Ethiopia won the women's half of Paris' Schneider Electric Marathon on Sunday in a course record 2:21:06, while Kenya's Peter Some won the men's event in 2:05:38.
Some interesting results from early in the spring season (or the fall season, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere):
American Darvis Patton won the 100 meters at Saturday's Texas Relays in 9.75 seconds. Yes, he was assisted by a 4.3 mps wind, more than twice the legal limit, but at age 35 that's still an impressive time. He also beat a strong field that included Mike Rodgers and Wallace Spearmon.
Usain Bolt paid an early visit to 2016 Olympic site Rio de Janeiro Sunday and won a 150-meter race in 14.42 seconds. The event was Bolt's first short sprint of the year, after running a few 400-meter events in Jamaica.