Jakob Ingebrigtsen in Oslo (© AFP / Getty Images)
Norwegian superstars Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Karsten Warholm are set to take centre stage on the track at the Bislett Games in Oslo on Thursday (15), while in the field all eyes will be on Mondo Duplantis and Yulimar Rojas to see if the world record-holders can produce something special at the Wanda Diamond League meeting.
Since its foundation in 1965, 25 world records have fallen at the Bislett Games, the names of those who set them etched among the immortals, from Britain’s Seb Coe and Steve Ovett to Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie and Tirunesh Dibaba.
Could Ingebrigtsen join that list?
The 22-year-old is already the world indoor 1500m record-holder, and while he’ll have no easy time of it just to win on Thursday – given the presence of the in-form Mohamed Katir and Ingebrigtsen’s long-time nemesis Timothy Cheruiyot – many will see this as Ingebrigtsen against the clock, and the ghost of Hicham El Guerrouj.
The Moroccan’s 1500m world record of 3:26.00 will turn 25 next month, but coming off his two-mile world best in Paris of 7:54.10, could Ingebrigtsen possibly take it out before then?
“I see it as one of the biggest challenges I’m going to face in my running career – for me that’s almost impossible,” he told Citius Mag last week in Paris, though when asked that night by the Guardian if it was in his sights, he said: “For sure.”
Katir and Cheruiyot have both beaten Ingebrigtsen over 1500m, though those losses were before Ingebrigtsen became Olympic champion in Tokyo two years ago. Can they take down the Norwegian in his backyard? It’s unlikely. USA’s Yared Nuguse is also in the field along with Britain’s Josh Kerr, Australia’s OIlie Hoare and Kenya’s Abel Kipsang. It’s a field worthy of an Olympic final, but the story of the race will likely be written by the Olympic champion.
But how low can his current personal best – 3:28.32 – go?
Warholm looks to have a far more straightforward task in the 400m hurdles, the Olympic champion returning to the stadium where he first broke the world record, running 46.70, in 2021. Warholm’s last race was in winning the European indoor 400m title in 45.35 in March, which featured a wild 20.84 first lap, and we can expect another rocket start on Thursday. With Warholm, it always is.
Rai Benjamin’s world lead of 47.74 will likely fall, but after injury wrecked his 2022 season, is Warholm now back to his brilliant best? We’re about to find out. CJ Allen is the sole rival in the field to have broken 48 seconds this year, which means Warholm – assuming he’s in full working order – may well be psyching himself up for a race against the clock.
Karsten Warholm breaks the world 400m hurdles record at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Oslo (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)
The women’s 100m will see Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson take on Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou. Jackson, the 200m world champion, clocked a blazing 10.78 (1.6m/s) recently in Kingston and she may have Sha’Carri Richardson’s world lead of 10.76 in her sights, but so will Ta Lou, whose season’s best of 10.78 was run in Clermont with a slightly less helpful wind of 0.9m/s. Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita should also be in the shake-up.
Many eyes will be on USA’s Erriyon Knighton in the men’s 200m after the 19-year-old’s impressive win in Florence, where he clocked 19.89 in still conditions. Cuba’s Reynier Mena has also broken 20 seconds this year, while Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh is also dangerous. Canadian fans will be tuning in to see if Andre De Grasse, the reigning Olympic champion, can get below the 20-second barrier for the first time this year.
Dutch star Femke Bol is the overwhelming favourite in the women’s 400m hurdles, having set a world lead of 52.43 in Florence. As her chief rival Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone dabbles in the 400m, Bol will be keen to lay down a marker to show the world record-holder how difficult it could be to retain her title over the barriers at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.
Bol has changed her stride pattern this year, running with 14 strides (instead of her usual 15) to the first seven barriers, and it will be fascinating to see how that evolution is progressing in Oslo. Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton (54.15) and US heptathlete Anna Hall (54.42) are the next quickest in the field this year.
Femke Bol reacts to her 400m hurdles meeting record at the Wanda Diamond League in Oslo (© AFP / Getty Images)
The men’s 400m will likely boil down to an African head-to-head between one all-time great and a man who could be on his way to greatness. World record-holder Wayde van Niekerk was impressive when clocking 44.21 to win in Kingston recently, though the three-time global champion will likely need more on Thursday to defeat Zambian 20-year-old Muzala Samukonga, who ran a national record and world lead of 43.91 in Gaborone, Botswana, last month. World medallists Matthew Hudson-Smith and Anthony-Jose Zambrano are also in the field.
The women’s 3000m looks an open race, and the home crowd will be fully behind Norway’s Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal, though she will have it all to do to beat Kenyan trio Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, Lilian Kasait Rengeruk and Beatrice Chebet, along with USA’s Alicia Monson, who have all gone below 8:30.
The men’s 5000m is loaded with quality, with Ugandan star Jacob Kiplimo – a 12:48.63 man at his best – looking to get his track season off to a flying start. There is a slew of other global medallists in opposition including Ethiopian pair Yomif Kejelcha and Samuel Tefera, along with USA’s Paul Chelimo. Guatemala’s Luis Grijalva, Ethiopia’s Telahun Haile Bekele and Spain’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo should also be in the mix.
The women’s Dream Mile looks an open race, with Ireland’s Ciara Mageean, Ethiopia’s Hirut Meshesha, USA’s Nikki Hiltz, Uganda’s Janat Chemusto and Britain’s Katie Snowden among the leading contenders.
In the field events, world record-holders Duplantis and Rojas will again hold the crowd’s attention captive every time they take to their respective runways, with everyone waiting to see if they can add to that list of world records at the famed stadium.
Mondo Duplantis at the Wanda Diamond League in Oslo (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)
Duplantis cleared 6.11m with room to spare when taking victory at the FBK Games in Hengelo recently, and it will be no surprise to see the bar ascend to 6.23m if or when he puts the competition to bed. There will be a strong Norwegian presence in opposition through brothers Sondre and Simen Guttormsen. Sondre cleared 6.00m to win the NCAA indoor title in March and the reigning European indoor champion will be keen to put the disappointment of last weekend’s NCAA Championships, where he finished sixth, behind him. The other six-metre men in the field are Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines and USA’s Christopher Nilsen and Sam Kendricks, along with France’s Renaud Lavillenie.
Rojas opened her season on Sunday in Madrid, jumping a world lead of 14.96m, and it will be a shock if the peerless Venezuelan doesn’t record the first 15-metre jump of the season on Thursday. Lining up against her are Cuba’s Leyanis Perez Hernandez, who jumped her PB of 14.84m to win in Rabat last month, plus Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk and Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts.
Triple jump winner Yulimar Rojas at the Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich (© AFP / Getty Images)
Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou is the star name in the men’s long jump, where the reigning Olympic champion will be hoping to improve on his current season’s best of 8.26m. USA’s Marquis Dendy, Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle, Norway’s Ingar Bratseth-Kiplesund and Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer are among his challengers.
The women’s shot put sees world champion Chase Ealey renew her rivalry with fellow US thrower, and current world leader, Maggie Ewen. Ealey has a best of 20.06m this year, with Ewen surpassing that world lead a week later, throwing 20.45m at the Los Angeles Grand Prix last month. They will be joined by Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo, who’s thrown 19.72m this season, and Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd, who recently threw a national record of 19.77m. World bronze medallist Jessica Schilder is also in the field and looking to improve her season’s best of 18.85m.
USA’s Valarie Allman could prove unbeatable in the women’s discus, at least if the Olympic champion reproduces the world lead of 70.25m she threw on home turf in California in April, or indeed the 69.04m she threw to win in Paris last week.
Valarie Allman in Oslo (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)
Two-time Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic opened her season in Paris, finishing second to Allman with 65.18m, and she will be looking for more here to keep her hopes of a third world title this season alive. Dutch athlete Jorinde van Klinken and German duo Shanice Craft and Kristin Pudenz should also be in the mix.
The men’s hammer, a non-Diamond League event, will see five-time world champion Pawel Fajdek take on his fellow Pole, the reigning Olympic champion Wojciech Nowicki. Also in the field is USA’s Rudy Winkler, who threw a world lead of 80.88m last month. Nowicki’s best this year is the 80.00m he threw on home soil in Chorzow last month, while Fajdek has been below his best so far this year, with 76.42m his top result. Canada’s Ethan Katzberg is another to watch – the 21-year-old threw a PB of 78.41m last month.
Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics