Noah Lyles pipped Justin Gatlin for this season’s Diamond League 100m crown on Thursday as Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin egged each other on to ground-breaking times in the 400m hurdles.
Lyles clocked 9.98 seconds, China’s Xie Zhenye claiming a shock second (10.04) from lane nine in a photo finish with Jamaican Yohan Blake (10.07) and current world champion Gatlin (10.08).
The race looked like it was going the way of the Gatlin, the 37-year-old who was also 2004 Olympic 100m gold medallist but went on to serve a doping ban between 2006-10.
But Lyles, 22, made sure there was no repeat of last month’s Monaco outing when Gatlin beat him by one-hundredth of a second and has lined up a possible diamond double as he will compete over the 200m in the second final in Brussels on September 6.
“To be honest, I don’t remember much of the race, I only remember there was a start and an ending!” said Lyles.
“This victory was very important even if it wasn’t as fast as I wanted.”
In still conditions with a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius (72F), and in one of the final warm-ups before the September 27-October 6 world championships in Doha, Norwegian Warholm and American Benjamin ensured a fantastic hurdles race.
Warholm was left performing celebratory press-ups on the line after he held on for a nail-biting win, becoming only the third person to dip under 47sec in a meet and with a European record of 46.92sec, the second fastest time ever.
“It was crazy,” said Warholm, 23, warning that the “best is still to come”.
“I just pushed during the race, it was tough, but it’s incredibly good feeling with my time. I’ll now focus for Doha and do the same as usual – hard training!”
In a rare head-to-head, Benjamin became the fourth sub-47 runner with a personal best of 46.98sec.
The result left Benjamin’s onlooking countryman Kevin Young, who set the world record of 46.78sec when winning gold at the 1992 Atlanta Olympics, gasping for breath in the crowd. Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba is the only other runner to have eclipsed the mythical 47sec mark.
Another notable performance of a high-quality evening of track and field went to Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who set a world-leading 21.74sec in the 200m, an event she won’t even compete in at Doha next month, where she will try to add the world 400m title to her Olympic gold.
The result marked her down 11th on the all-time list in the half-lap race.
Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith came in second in a season’s best of 22.08sec ahead of respective reigning Olympic and world 200m champions Elaine Thompson of Jamaica and Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands.
Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria also produced the goods in the long jump, going out to a winning meet record of 8.65m on his first effort.
Lyles aside, there were a trio of other US winners, led by Sam Kendricks in the men’s pole vault (5.93m). Sydney McLaughlin, a training partner of Benjamin, clocked 52.85sec to win the 400m hurdles, recent world record holder Dalilah Muhammad having to be content with third.
And Donovan Brazier produced a personal best of 1:42.70, smashing his previous best by 0.85sec, to upset Botswanan favourite Nijel Amos, winner of three previous diamond trophies, to win a thrilling men’s 800m.
“I’m quite amazed by my result,” said a speechless Brazier. “I’m now focusing on Doha.”
There was an academic victory in the 3000m steeplechase by Kenya’s world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech and Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hassan won the 1500m, closest touted rival Genzebe Dibaba cramping up over the line in fourth.
Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei upset the men’s 5000m field, timing a PB of 12:57.41 as he outwitted a host of fellow east African favourites with an exemplary gun-to-tape run.