This is the beginning of a series by Stuart Weir on the Memorial Van Damme. We thought you would enjoy this piece, so let us know your thoughts!
The 47th Allianz Memorial van Damme took place on Friday, 11 September in Brussels’ iconic King Baudouin Stadium (formerly Hysel), built in 1930 and used for international football/soccer games. The meet name recalls Ivo van Damme, a Belgian middle-distance runner who won two medals in the 1976 Olympics before tragically dying in a road accident the following year. The two-hour Diamond League was proceeded by a two-and-a-half-hour pre-program of youth and national events.
There was a plethora of superstars: Mondo, Shericka, Elaine, Femke, Jakob… We expected much and were not disappointed. There was a world record for Jakob in the 2000 meters to follow his world record in Paris in the 2 miles. I hear that he will be attempting the World record at the 2023 meters next. Jakob is a wonderful athlete, but to keep claiming world records for rarely run, non-championship distances? Come on! You will not be surprised to know that the official results report a season’s best for every finisher and national and area records galore!
There was speculation that Shericka Jackson would get close to the world 200m record of 21.34. She did, but not quite close enough, having to settle for a meeting record of 21.48. Shericka is so laid back that getting any reaction from her is hard. She told me that she did not feel any pressure from people’s expectations of a world record.
Newly crowned world champion Femke Bol won the 400 as expected in a meeting record of 52.11, commenting: “It was my first Brussels Diamond League meeting, and I loved it so much. The crowd was amazing. So loud. It was like being at home”. Mondo won the pole vault with 6.10, and Yaroslava Mahuchikh took the high jump with another 2-meter jump. Ukrainian victories are always popular, the more so as Yaroslava now lives in Belgium. Cynthia Bolingo’s win in the 400 in 50.09 also gave the home crowd something else to cheer.
Zharnel Hughes ran 19.82 while suffering from flu. What would he run if he was healthy?
The women’s 1500 was arguably the race of the night, with Ciara Mageean running an Irish record but still finishing second to Laura Muir, who won in 3:55.34 to follow her 800m victory in Zurich last week.