By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
WHILE quarter-miler Shaunae Miller shut down her season and opted not to compete because of a contractual breakdown, high jumper Donald Thomas took advantage of the opportunity on Friday to compete in the AG Insurance Memorial Van Damm in Brussels, Belgium.
Thomas, 32, came seventh in the men’s high jump with a leap of 2.26 metres or 7-feet, 5-inches as American Erik Kynard went on to post the win with 2.32m (7-7 1/4), beating out Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar on the countback to secure the Diamond League Race title in the process.
Kynard finished with 20 points and earned $50,000, inclusive of $10,000 for the event win and another $40,000 for the Diamind League title. Thomas, however, was not eligible to contend for the Diamond League Race title as he didn’t participate in as many of the seven meets in the series over the year.
Miller, fresh off her dive across the finish line to win the Olympic Games’ gold medal over American Allyson Felix, had a chance to also pull off the double feat in Brussels as she trailed Jamaican Stephanie Ann McPherson by just one point going into the final race.
But Miller’s manager, Claude Bryan, confirmed to The Tribune last Tuesday that the national 200m record holder will skip the final IAAF Diamond League Meeting.
“Kindly note. We were unable to come to terms with the Brussels Diamond League so unfortunately Shaunae Miller will not be competing in the Belgium capital,” Bryan confirmed with The Tribune.
“Her season has effectively ended and she hopes for a healthy and successful 2017.”
Bryan said it was fiscal in nature when pressed about the decision for Miller not to compete.
In her absence, McPherson eventually clinched the Diamond League Race title and a purse of $40,000, although she lost the race in third place behind Caster Semenya from the Republic of South Africa and American Courtney Okolo in that order. The week before in Zurich, Switzerland, Semenya added the Diamond League Race 800m title to her Olympic crown.
McPherson, who didn’t have a great showing at the Olympics, ended up taking the 400m title over American Natasha Hastings in the absence of Miller, who was considered a sure bet to win, if she had competed.
A week before, men’s national record holder Steven Gardiner completed the men’s 400m series in Zurich tied for fourth place with Nery Brenes of Croatia with 10 points. Gardiner, 20, placed fifth in Zurich in 45.66 as Merritt ran away with the race in 44.64.
The other six meetings for their series were the same as the men’s high jump in Doha, Rabat, Rome, Birmingham, Monte-Carlo and Lausanne.
American LaShawn Merritt, the bronze medallist in Rio, won the title with 50 points. His nearest rival was Grenada’s Bralon Taplin with 24. Isaac Makwala of Botswana was third with 20.
Republic of South Africa’s Wayde van Nirkerk, who set a world record in picking up the gold in Rio, along with silver medallist Kirani James from Grenada, didn’t compete.