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Marco Arop runs world-leading 800m in season-opening win at Xiamen Diamond League

Marco Arop saw an immediate payoff after cutting short his indoor track season to transition to hill work and increase his mileage ahead of the outdoor campaign.

While the Edmonton middle-distance runner didn’t set his third Canadian record in as many races in 2024, Arop did extend his individual win streak to four on Saturday, leading the men’s 800 metres from start to finish season and posting a world-leading time of one minute 43.61 seconds at the Diamond League season opener in Xiamen, China.

Wyclife Kinyamal of Kenya made a valiant attempt to pass Arop, cutting the Canadian’s lead with 200 metres to go and further closing the gap down the final stretch but was edged at the finish, stopping the clock in 1:43.66. Tshepiso Masalela of Botswana was third in 1:43.88.

His teammate, Kethobogile Haingura, held the previous world lead of 1:43.94 while Kenya’s Emmanuel Wanyonyi maintained the meet record of 1:43.20 from last Sept. 2.

WATCH | Arop grabs early lead on way to season-opening 800m victory in China:

Canada’s Marco Arop wins first Diamond League 800m of the season

The Canadian distance runner battled to victory, with less than a second between the top three runners at the Diamond League meet in Xiamen.

Arop, 25, ran to a pair of Canadian marks in the span of a week to open his indoor season in the 800 and 1,000, finishing 54-100ths of a second shy of the world record in the latter event on Feb. 4 in Boston.

“The one thing that stood out in both [races] was how comfortable I felt from the start to finish,” he told CBC Sports in February from Starkville, Miss., where he lives and trains.

“I want a couple of months of solid training before opening outdoors. I wasn’t planning on chasing any times or records indoors. The main goal remains the Olympic Games and winning a medal [in Paris this summer].”

The reigning world champion has yet to appear in an Olympic final. He was seventh (1:44.90) in the semifinals three years ago in Tokyo, finishing 16-100ths of a second behind Kenya’s Emmanuel Korir — the final qualifier for the final —and placed 14th overall in a field of 24.

WATCH | Arop captures 2023 world championship gold in Budapest, Hungary:

Canada’s Marco Arop speeds to 800m gold at the worlds

The Edmonton runner captured Canada’s first-ever gold medal in the 800 meters after a dominant second lap.

At the 2023 Diamond League Final, Arop lowered his personal best to 1:42.85, breaking Brandon McBride’s 1:43:20 national mark from 2018 in a second-place finish.

Arop also took charge early in that race, moving to the front of the pack behind pacer and training partner Navasky Anderson. He held on until halfway down the straight at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., where Wanyonyi passed him to reach the finish in a meet record and then-world-leading time of 1:42.80.

WATCH | Arop’s Canadian-record run at 2023 Diamond League Final:

Edmonton’s Marco Arop breaks 800m Canadian record to finish 2nd in Diamond League Final

Reigning world champion Marco Arop broke Brandon McBride’s Canadian record, running the men’s 800-metre race in a time of 1:42.85, to finish second behind Kenya’s Emmanuel Wanyonyi in the Diamond League Final in Eugene, Ore.

Arop will race next Saturday in Nuremburg, Germany before joining sprinters Aaron Brown, Ibrahim Ayorinde, Callum Robinson and others at the World Relays in May.

In the Bahamas, he will try to help Canada qualify a men’s 4×400 relay team for the Olympics for the first time in 32 years. They need a top-14 placing after earning the 32nd and final qualifying spot last month in Gainesville, Fla., where he also won the men’s 1,500.

Arop will return home for the Edmonton Athletics Invitational on June 13, two weeks before he competes at the Canadian Olympic trials in Montreal.

Shot putter Sarah Mitton and steeplechase runner Regan Yee also represented Canada at Egret Stadium in Xiamen.

Mitton, who twice broke a Canadian record on her way to women’s gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships last month in Glasgow, was fourth on Saturday with a best throw of 19.35 metres on the second of her five attempts.

The 27-year-old from Brooklyn, N.S., who is ranked second in the world, opened the competition at 19.05 and later delivered a 19.06 effort between a pair of sub-19 throws (18.89, 18.75).

Yee rebounds from ’23 steeplechase opener

Reigning Olympic champion Gong Lijiao was victorious before the home crowd Saturday with a 19.72 performance, followed by Maddison-Lee Wesche of New Zealand, who turned in a 19.63 PB. Top-ranked Chase Jackson of the United States, the 2023 world champion, was third (19.62).

Yee placed eighth of 14 women in the 3,000 steeplechase in 9:31.47, nearly nine seconds faster than her 2023 Diamond League opener (9:40.04) at the Golden Gala in Florence, Italy, where she was 13th.

Beatrice Chepkoech and Faith Cherotich of Kenya, who captured world silver and bronze last summer, were 1-2 on Saturday in 8:55.40 and 9:05.49, respectively. Chepkoech, who entered the race with a world-leading 9:15.61, also set the meet record. Peruth Chemutai of Uganda was third (9:12.99).

Ree, who grew up in South Hazelton, B.C., was coming off an indoor season that featured PBs in across four flat distances in the 1,500, mile, 3,000 and 5,000.

“I’m probably in the best place fitness-wise that I’ve [ever] been at this time of year,” Yee told CBC Sports this week. Since October 2022, the second-year pro has lived in Flagstaff, Ariz., where she trains with the Under Armour-sponsored Dark Sky Mission Project running group.

WATCH | Chepkoech runs to sub-9-minute meet record in Xiamen:

Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech sets steeplechase meet record with Diamond League win in Xiamen

The Kenyan cruised to victory in China, beating teammate Faith Cherotich by more than 10 seconds while setting a new meet mark.

Duplantis raises his pole vault world mark to 6.24m

Sweden’s Armand Duplantis broke his own world record in the pole vault when he cleared 6.24 metres.

He told a pre-meet news conference he never puts limits on himself and was always capable of a record.

The Olympic and two-time world champion proved that Saturday, setting a world record for the eighth time in his career as he surpassed the mark of 6.23 he set last September at the Diamond League Final. meet in Eugene, Oregon.

“This is my first time in China and it’s exciting to get my season going,” the 24-year-old Duplantis said.

WATCH | Duplantis clears 6.24m to win men’s pole vault:

Armand Duplantis breaks own pole vault world record at Xiamen Diamond League

The Swedish vaulter wasted no time, setting a new mark of 6.24m in his first attempt at the Diamond League meet in Xiamen, China.

Known as Mondo, Duplantis entered the competition at 5.62 and also cleared 5.82 and 6 before attempting the record and clearing it at his first try.

American Sam Kendricks placed second at 5.82, followed by Huang Bokai of China at 5.72.

Saturday’s other notable results:

  • The night finished with Christian Coleman winning the 100 in 10.13 seconds from fellow American Fred Kerley, who was second in 10.17. Ackeem Blake of Jamaica was third in 10.20.
  • In an upset in the women’s 200, 19-year-old Australian Torrie Lewis beat 100 world champion Sha’Carri Richardson in a tight finish. Lewis, running in the outside lane, won in 22.96 seconds, holding off Richardson in 22.99.
  • Gudaf Tsegay, who holds the world record in the women’s 5,000, ran the third-fastest time in the history of the women’s 1,500, prevailing in 3:50.30 seconds. Fellow Ethiopians Birke Haylom and Worknesh Mesele were second and third.
  • World champion Marileidy Paulino won the women’s 400 in 50.08 seconds, holding off Natalia Kaczmarek and Britton Wilson.
  • Olympic gold medallist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won the women’s 100 hurdles in 12.45 seconds, edging Devynne Charlton and Cyrena Samba-Mayela.

WATCH | Coleman grabs bragging rights from fellow American Kerley in men’s 100m:

Americans Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley come down to wire in Diamond League 100m

The US teammates were separated by just 0.04 seconds at the finish line in Xiamen, China.

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