Previews07 Jun 2023

Kipyegon leads clash of world record-holders in Paris 5000m


Letesenbet Gidey, Faith Kipyegon and Ejgayehu Taye

A world or Olympic final is quite a common yardstick to use when measuring the quality of any field. But the women’s 5000m line-up at the Meeting de Paris – the French stop on the Wanda Diamond League on Friday (9) – is arguably better than any global championships start list.

One week on from her record-breaking 1500m feat in Florence, Faith Kipyegon will move up to a distance she has not contested for eight years, and will take on fellow world record-holders Letesenbet Gidey and Ejgayehu Taye.

Kipyegon has only contested two 5000m races to date, both back in 2015, and the last of which was also in Paris. Her PB stands at 14:31.95, but that came in a season when she was in 3:59 form for 1500m, and before she won double world and Olympic golds. The 29-year-old Kenyan now has 3:49.11 1500m speed in her legs, as well as superb natural endurance – as shown by her 62-second winning margin over 10km at the Sirikwa Cross Country meeting in Eldoret earlier this year.

Put simply: if Kipyegon doesn’t smash her personal best, it would be a huge surprise.

The victory, however, may be harder to come by. But in recent months Kipyegon has spoken about a potential move up in distance – and one that will eventually lead to the marathon – so Friday’s race will be something of a stepping stone towards that goal.

World 10,000m champion Gidey hasn’t raced since the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst in February where she was leading up until the final 20 metres before her legs gave way. As the world record-holder over 5000m and 10,000m, the 25-year-old Ethiopian will be keen to put in a strong showing to show that her Bathurst performance was but a blip.

Taye holds the world record for the road 5km at 14:19, but is also an accomplished performer on the track. She set an African 3000m record of 8:19.52 in 2021, and last year she held the world-leading 5000m mark of 14:12.98.

Such is the quality of this field, another world record-holder – steeplechase specialist Beatrice Chepkoech – has been enlisted for pacemaking duties. The 2019 world steeplechase champion will aim to lead the field through 3000m in 8:32.5, which is 14:14 pace for the full 5000m distance.

But this is just the tip of an incredibly high-quality iceberg that is the 5000m in Paris.

The line-up also includes world indoor 3000m champion Lemlem Hailu of Ethiopia, Olympic 1500m silver medallist Laura Muir of Great Britain, 2019 world silver medallist Margaret Kipkemboi, world cross-country bronze medallist Agnes Ngetich, North American 10,000m record-holder Alicia Monson, and up-and-coming Kenyan Grace Loibach Nawowuna, who recently clocked 29:47.42 for 10,000m.

That’s still not all. Ethiopian duo Diribe Welteji and Freweyni Hailu – both of whom are 800m and 1500m specialists – will be making their 5000m debut.

A clash of the titans with other sub-plots and storylines, this race has the potential to be one of the big talking points of the year.

Much has also been said of the women’s 400m in Paris.

World and Olympic champion Sydney McLauhglin-Levrone will open her outdoor campaign with a lap of the Stade Charlety – sans barriers – and it is a highly anticipated appearance for many reasons.

Sydney McLaughlin at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo

Sydney McLaughlin at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo (© Deca Text & Bild)

The World Female Athlete of the Year last competed in a Diamond League race back in 2019. Since then, she has become a sporting superstar, winning Olympic gold and the 2022 world title in the 400m hurdles, both in world record times.

Her PB for that event, 50.68, is faster than the 400m flat season’s bests of all but two of the entrants for the race in Paris. And while no one would expect her to replicate the 47.91 clocking she produced in the 4x400m at the 2022 World Championships, it gives an indication as to her foot speed on the flat. Either way, her 50.07 PB seems to be living on borrowed time.

A sub-50-second time will most likely be needed to win, as Marileidy Paulino from the Dominican Republic is in the field. The world and Olympic silver medallist is undefeated in nine races across a range of distances this year, and she recently reduced her 400m PB to 48.98 to win in LA. After that race, she told reporters she has “no fear” about taking on McLaughlin-Levrone.

Salwa Eid Naser, the 2019 world champion, is also in the field, as are Jamaica’s Candice McLeod, Poland’s European silver medallist Natalia Kaczmarek, world finalist Lieke Klaver, and recent Hypo Meeting heptathlon winner Anna Hall.

Girma takes on the barriers, Ingebrigtsen aims to beat one

Having temporarily shifted his focus to running on the flat – and to great effect – Lamecha Girma will return to the steeplechase in Paris.

The Ethiopian broke the long-standing world indoor 3000m record earlier this year, and last month he opened his outdoor campaign with a victory over that same distance in Doha. The world and Olympic silver medallist will now try to put some of his new-found speed to use over the barriers.

Pacemakers will aim to reach 2000m in 5:14.5, which would translate to 7:51.75 for the full distance – comfortably inside the world record of 7:53.63 set 19 years ago by Saif Saeed Shaheen.

Girma will face Kenyan duo Abraham Kibiwot and Benjamin Kigen, Japanese record-holder Ryuji Miura, Ethiopia’s Hailemariyam Amare, France’s Djilali Bedrani and Spain’s Fernando Carro.

World and Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen will have certain times in mind when he takes to the start line for his first ever two-mile race. Mo Farah’s European best of 8:07.85 seems ripe for the picking, while the eight-minute mark – a barrier that has been broken by just one man, Daniel Komen – is a tantalising goal. The world best of 7:58.61 could even be a stretch target for the Norwegian.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen leads the 1500m in Rabat

Jakob Ingebrigtsen leads the 1500m in Rabat (© AFP / Getty Images)

The pacemakers will aim to reach 2000m in 4:57.5, which should set up the race for a sub-eight-minute finish.

Others in the line-up include world U20 cross-country champion Ishmael Kipkirui, world and Olympic 5000m medallist Paul Chelimo, and multiple Oceanian record-holder Stewart McSweyn.

Both 800m races boast competitive fields.

In the women’s event, European champion and Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson takes on world indoor champion Ajee Wilson, along with 2019 world champion Halima Nakaayi, Olympic bronze medallist Raevyn Rogers, Jamaica’s Natoya Goule and Australia’s in-form Catriona Bisset.

Algeria’s Slimane Moula, who produced a stunning finish to win the men’s 800m in Doha last month, will take on Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir, world leader Emmanuel Wanyonyi, and world silver medallist Djamel Sedjati.

Third time lucky for Jacobs

An injury niggle prevented Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs from opening his season in Rabat and then Florence, but the Italian sprinter is hoping to get his 2023 campaign under way in Paris.

But if world 200m champion Noah Lyles can combine a solid start with his finishing speed from his recent outing in Bermuda, he will be tough to beat. African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala, 2011 world champion Yohan Blake, 2018 world indoor bronze medallist Ronnie Baker and world U20 record-holder Letsile Tebogo are also in the line-up.

Marie Josee Ta Lou has started 2023 in superb form over 100m, but the Ivorian sprinter will test her speed over 200m in Paris. She’ll take on 2019 world champion Dina Asher-Smith, Olympic bronze medallist Gabby Thomas, and sub-22-second performers Abby Steiner, Jenna Prandini and Tamara Clark.

Two-time world champion Grant Holloway will take on some of his strongest domestic opponents as well as France’s finest in the 110m hurdles. Devon Allen, Daniel Roberts, Jamal Britt and Freddie Crittenden are among the leading US contenders, while home hopes rest with Wilhem Belocian and Just Kwaou-Mathey.

US hurdler Grant Holloway

US hurdler Grant Holloway (© Getty Images)

In the men’s 400m hurdles, the in-form CJ Allen lines up against Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba, double Commonwealth champion Kyron McMaster, world bronze medallist Trevor Bassitt, and France’s Wilfried Happio.

US stars out in force in field events

Numerous global champions – many from the US – will highlight the field events in Paris on Friday.

Brooke Andersen, a new addition to the event’s 80-metre club, highlights the mixed hammer event. She’ll be joined by world bronze medallist Janee Kassanavoid and all-round throws talent Maggie Ewen.

Straight after the hammer, Ewen will hop across to the shot put circle to contest the event in which she is the world leader. She’ll face world champion Chase Ealey, world indoor champion Auriol Dongmo, 2019 world silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd, Commonwealth champion Sarah Mitton and China’s Song Jiayuan.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman renews her rivalry with Sandra Perkovic in the discus. Allman has five wins from five competitions this year, her best throw being a world-leading 70.25m. Perkovic, meanwhile, will be opening her season in Paris. Germany’s Kristin Pudenz and the highly experienced Melina Robert-Michon of France are also in the field.

Val Allman

Val Allman

For the third time this year, the top six finishers from the World Championships will reunite in the women’s pole vault. World and Olympic champion Katie Moon started her season well before failing to register a height in Los Angeles, but she bounced back with a victory in Florence, where Tina Sutej finished second on countback.

Before contesting the 400m, heptathlete Anna Hall will make her first appearance of the night in the high jump. Vashti Cunningham is undefeated this year and she’ll aim to keep that record going when she faces Olympic silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers, rising talent Angelina Topic and world bronze medallist Elena Vallortigara.

For the first time since last year’s World Championships, two-time world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber will clash with Olympic champion Liu Shiying in the javelin. World bronze medallist Haruka Kitaguchi, European champion Elina Tzengko and world leader Sigrid Borge are all in this wide-open field.

Elsewhere, Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou takes on world bronze medallist Simon Ehammer and Olympic bronze medallist Maykel Masso in the men’s long jump. In non-scoring action, decathlon world record-holder Kevin Mayer will contest a ‘triathlon’.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics