Lavillenie seals glory as Spotakova and Malachowski land Diamond titles

Renaud Lavillenie and Barbora Spotakova brought the IAAF Diamond League season to a spectacular close in Brussels on Friday night.

The two European champions ended the series with world-leading performances as they won their Diamond Race to secure the trophy and $40,000.

Pole vaulter Lavillenie’s dominance once more of the event meant he was the champion even before the action started in the King Badouin Stadium. But just for good measure, as he won a record fifth Diamond Race in a row, he did so with a brilliant clearance of 5.93m to beat Greece’s world indoor champion Konstantinos Filippidis and Poland’s Robert Sobera, who shared second with 5.65m.

The best mark in the world this year had been Lavillenie’s 5.92m from the second Diamond League meeting of the year in Shanghai in May.

His strike rate remains remarkable as he has the top six best vaults in 2014.

Spotakova entered the evening leading the Diamond Race by four points from Slovenia’s Martina Ratej but in the end she had nothing to worry about in her quest for the title.

The Czech Republic star broke the meeting record with a 67.99m fourth round throw to overtake the world-leading 67.32m which Germany’s Linda Stahl had produced at the New York Diamond League in June.

Stahl’s best distance this time was 60.64m for fourth as Sunette Viljoen, of South Africa, finished second with 64.30m and Australian Kathryn Mitchell was third with 62.93m. Ratej was back in seventh with her furthest being 58.61m.

Only the top three are awarded points which meant Spotakova was the champion with 22 from Ratej with 10.

Poland’s Piotr Malachowski had a night to remember too – and particularly the third round of the discus which proved the decisive moment of the competition.

Malachowski entered this final event as the Diamond Race leader with 18 points from German Robert Harting with 12 and he knew he had to be in the top two to regain a title he won in the first year of the Diamond League in 2010.

When Harting took the lead in the second round with 67.57m, the standard was set for the evening which Malachowski responded to with his 67.35m effort in the next round.

Harting, who successfully defended his European title in Zurich, did not have another legal throw but had gone far enough for victory on the night.

But as Malachowski’s effort kept him in second – Estonian Gerd Kanter, the Diamond League champion in 2012 and 2013, was third with 65.81m – it brought him the main prize.

The Polish athlete won the Diamond Race by two points from Harting, 22-20.

It was not to be, though, for Ukraine’s high jump European champion Bohdan Bondarenko, who was beaten in a thrilling event by Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim.

When Barshim went over at a stunning, world-leading 2.43m, Bondarenko, who had cleared 2.40m, then raised the bar to 2.46m, which would have broken the world record by one centimetre.

As the tension grew in front of the big crowd, Bondarenko knocked the bar off and had to settle in this event – and in the Diamond Race itself. They finished level on 20 points, with Barshim taking the crown as he won on the night as both men ended with three victories each from the series.

Like French teammate Lavillenie, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde had already done enough before the meeting to win the Diamond Race but he, too, sealed his triumph with another success – his fifth of the league this season.

With a powerful display, Martinot-Lagarde took charge in the final 30m to win, with a huge smile across his face, in 13.08 from Orlando Ortega, of Cuba, in 13.13, and Russia’s European champion Sergey Shubenkov in 13.22.





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