2021 Weltklasse Zurich DL Final Men’s Recap: Americans Sweep the 100, 200, & 400, Emmanuel Korir Backs Up His Olympic Title, & Mondo Clears 6.06m
September 9, 2021
The 2021 Diamond League season reached its conclusion with a mega Diamond League final at the Weltklasse Zurich meet at Letzigrund stadium on Thursday. Rather than the traditional two-meet final, the DL condensed the final into a single meet for 2021, meaning that all 32 DL events were staged over the course of two days in Switzerland (day 1 was held as a street meet on Wednesday: LRC Zurich Day 1: Francine Niyonsaba & Berihu Aregawi Win 5K Titles; Ryan Crouser Gets His First DL Title).
The highlights on the track were a pair of thrilling 1500 races pitting the world champs (Sifan Hassan and Timothy Cheruiyot) against the Olympic champs (Faith Kipyegon and Jakob Ingebrigtsen). Both races came down to the wire and as a result, the 1500’s get their own recap here.
Elsewhere, it was a great night for American male sprinters as they won four of the five sprint events: Fred Kerley in the 100 (9.87), Kenny Bednarek in the 200 (19.70), Michael Cherry in the 400 (44.41), and Devon Allen in the 110 hurdles (13.06). Only Olympic champ Karsten Warholm of Norway, who won the 400 hurdles in 47.35, could prevent the American sprint sweep.
In the distance events, it was all Kenya as Kenyans won the 800 (Emmanuel Korir), 1500 (Cheruiyot) and steeple (Benjamin Kigen). The standout performer in the field was Mondo Duplantis, who cleared 6.06m to earn a dominant win in the pole vault.
Men’s 800: Emmanuel Korir gets Diamond League title to go with his Olympic title
Emmanuel Korir knows how to win the big ones.
In a year full of competitive balance in the men’s 800m (Marco Arop, Wyclife Kinyamal, and Ferguson Rotich all won 2 Diamond Leagues), Korir won two 800s all year. They were the right ones to win — the Tokyo Olympics and tonight the Diamond League final.
With 200 to go, the entire field was still in contention. Rotich led onto the homestretch and then Korir asserted himself with his head bobbing style, and just like in Tokyo, it was no contest the final 100m. Korir got the win. Rotich held on for 2nd and Clayton Murphy of the US moved up for 3rd.
400m – 49.5 sec
Quick Take: This event isn’t as disordered as it seemed in Tokyo
After the Olympics, the men’s 800 seemed like a total crapshoot — run the Tokyo final 10 times and you might get five different winners. We’re no longer inclined to believe that. Korir and Ferguson Rotich finished 1-2 in Tokyo, 1-2 tonight, and have been near the front of every other post-Tokyo DL. They were the two best guys in the world this year and deserving Olympic gold and silver medalists.
Men’s steeple: Kigen uses big kick to win
The pace was very slow early in this one, with the field hitting 1k in 2:46.7 and 2k in 5:38.1 (8:27 pace). That played into the hands of Kenya’s Benjamin Kigen, who is known for his kick and used a big move at the bell to open up a gap on the final lap. Kigen looked on his way to a comfortable victory but stuttered his steps badly on the final barrier and wound up just barely holding off Olympic champ Soufiane El Bakkali, 8:17.45 to 8:17.70, thanks to a 58.7 final 400.
1K – 2:40 min, 2K 5:20 min
Quick Take: Let’s hope the steeple is more entertaining in 2022
Whether it was the absence of 2016 Olympic medalists Conseslus Kipruto and Evan Jager or something else, the men’s steeple endured a down year in 2021. Kigen’s world lead of 8:07.12 was the slowest world leader since 1994 (excluding the 2020 COVID year that really only featured one world-class steeple in Monaco).
Men’s 100: Kerley comes on late to win it
American Ronnie Baker got an incredible start, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Olympic medalists Fred Kerley and Andre De Grasse, who swallowed him up late. In the end, Kerley and De Grasse replicated their Olympic finishing order, with Kerley winning in 9.87 and De Grasse tying his personal best with 9.89 for second.
Men’s 200: Bednarek wins in 19.70
2020 Olympic 200 silver medallist Kenny Bednarek got a little revenge on 2020 Olympic gold medallist Andre De Grasse as he had the lead coming off the turn and just held on to win the men’s 200 in 19.70 to De Grasse’s 19.72 as Fred Kerley was third in 19.83. Both De Grasse and Kerley were doubling back from the 100, which was scheduled to start 74 minutes before this one.
Bednarek had a prolific season at 200 as 13 times he broke 20.00 (12 times wind-legal).
Bednarek said his 2021 season is now over but he has big goals for 2022.
“I am taking a break, and going to Hawaii with my girlfriend, so I will come back strong next year, and get ready for Worlds. Honestly, my goal is to win gold at the World Championships back home, and set a personal best — I want to run 19.40 next year.”
Men’s 400: Michael Cherry falls at the line and gets World Championship bye
Michael Cherry of the US and Kirani James of Grenada put on a tremendous stretch duel. Cherry seized the lead coming onto the homestretch but could not quite pull away from James. James clawed back ground the final 15 meters and Cherry could tell the Diamond League title was about to slip away. Cherry was losing his form and leaned at the line, hoping it would be enough to hold off James. With his lean, his leg gave out and he buckled to the ground but the fall propelled him momentarily forward which was just enough to get the win in 44.41, .02 ahead of James.
QT: Great season for Michael Cherry
Michael Cherry capped an amazing season by getting the win and the bye into Worlds next year. It was well-deserved. He ran 45.90 in his first race of the year. Then he ran 44 point every single race the rest of the year, 14 straight races in all, ending with four straight wins, including a 44.03 PB in Brussels last week and the $30,000 win and World Champs bye tonight. The 43s can wait until next year.
Men’s 110 hurdles: Allen edges Levy
American Devon Allen won his first DL title by running a season’s best of 13.06 to edge out Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medalist Ronald Levy, who was second in the same time as Olympic champ Hansle Parchment ran 13.17 for 3rd. The $30,000 is a nice reward for Allen, but he won’t get the bye to Worlds next year as the US has the reigning world champ in the event, Grant Holloway.
Men’s 400h: Karsten Warholm’s win streak continues
Running in his first 400 hurdles race since setting his scintillating 45.94 world record in Tokyo, Warholm’s undefeated streak in the event continued as he got the win in 47.35 as Olympic bronze medallist Alison dos Santos ran 47.81. Warholm has now won 21 400 hurdles races in a row (counting prelims), with his last loss in the event occurring at the Continental Cup race in Ostrava on September 8, 2018.
Afterwards, Warholm told meet organizers, while he’s got a few smaller races left, he’s excited to start training again, “I just want to go back to training — that’s what I love to do, and what I got to do, but it’s also going to be very nice to have a break from competition.”
Men’s Pole Vault: Mondo claims first DL title
Olympic champ Mondo Duplantis made it eight wins from nine to win his first career DL title, clearing 6.06m on a day when no one else could do better than 5.93m. Counting indoors, Duplantis has now cleared 6.00m or higher in a staggering 12 meets in 2021.
Men’s Discus: Stahl stays on top
Reigning world and Olympic champ Daniel Ståhl of Sweden got the win with a first-round throw of 66.49 that he admitted afterwards wasn’t a good mark. Still, he’s the DL champ as 2021 world #2 Kristjan Čeh could only manage a 65.39.
Men’s Javelin: Vetter is the champion
Johannes Vetter, the second-farthest thrower in history, surprisingly did not medal in Tokyo, but he showed he is still the man to beat on the circuit as he threw 89.11 to win his third DL of 2021 and first DL title.
Men’s Triple Jump: PPP dominates
Olympic champ Pedro Pablo Pichardo of Portugal had three jumps better than anyone else in the field but he saved his best for round #6 (17.70) as Olympic silver medallist Hugues Fabrice Zango was second at 17.20.