Faith Kipyegon celebrates her world mile record in Monaco (© AFP / Getty Images)
Was it ever in doubt?
Faith Kipyegon continued to plunder the most revered middle distance marks in the sport, setting her third world record in 50 days on Friday (21), at the Herculis meeting in Monaco.
The Olympic and world champion has marched across Europe in the last seven weeks like a latter-day Caesar. She started this imperious run of Wanda Diamond League form in Florence on 2 June, when she became the first woman to run 1500m in under 3:50. She then conquered Paris a week later, this time splintering the 5000m record, before laying siege to the mile in Monaco.
On a hot and humid evening, Kipyegon did not allow anything to distract her from the prize. She locked in immediately to the world record pace being marked by flashing lights inside the track and relaxed into an easy rhythm for three laps.
But at the bell she charged out like a prize fighter, punching the world record into the dust with every stride. The pacing lights were a distant second as she skimmed around the track to stop the clock in 4:07.64*, more than four seconds faster than the standard her long-term rival Sifan Hassan set on the same track four years ago (4:12.33).
Kipyegon expected this performance, but that did not lessen her delight as she lay on the track afterwards, kicking those million-dollar legs in the air in glee.
“I really enjoyed the race,” she said. “I came for that, I wanted to chase the world record.”
She won by almost seven seconds – more than half the length of the straight – despite three women behind her setting area records, six setting national records and 11 setting personal best times.
Ireland’s Ciara Mageean set a national record in second (4:14.58) and moved to fifth on the world all-time list, just ahead of Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu (4:14.79). Fourth-placed Laura Muir set a British record (4:15.24), fifth-placed Jessica Hull set an Oceanian and Australian record (4:15.34) and sixth-placed Nikki Hiltz set a North American and US record (4:16.35).
Hailu (6), Muir (7) and Hull (8) also entered the all-time top 10.
But none could touch Kipyegon, who is so confident of her form now that she intends to take on both the 1500m and 5000m at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 next month, and she has every chance of completing the rare double. It is one of the few accomplishments left for the two-time Olympic and world champion.
Monaco has become a middle distance paradise in the last decade and that trend continued in the men’s events.
In the 800m, Kenya’s Wyclife Kinyamal leap-frogged his compatriot Emmanuel Wanyonyi as the world leader to win in 1:43.22. It was a highly competitive affair as the first six men broke 1:44, Algeria’s Slimane Moula claiming second (1:43.40) from front-running Canadian Marco Arop (1:43.51).
The Ethiopian contingent dominated the 5000m. World silver medallist Hagos Gebrhiwet was rewarded for a brave surge 500m from the finish. He produced the fastest race of his career (12:42.18) to hold off world leader Berihu Aregawi (12:42.58) and Telahun Bekele, who also set a personal best (12:42.70).
Hagos Gebrhiwet leads the 5000m in Monaco (© Chiara Montesano / Diamond League AG)
The 3000m steeplechase also produced a 14-second personal best for Kenyan winner Simon Koech (8:04.19) as he upset his more-fancied compatriot Abraham Kibiwot (8:09.54).
In the men’s 400m hurdles, Olympic champion Karsten Warholm took off like he was being chased by a lion, which he was, in the shape of the world champion Alison dos Santos in his comeback hurdles race after injury.
Warholm had a slight lead coming off the final bend and the race was effectively over when Dos Santos stumbled coming off the ninth hurdle, leaving the Norwegian to stride away and win in a world-leading time of 46.51, just 0.01 faster than his previous season’s best but both a Diamond League and meeting record.
But crossing the finish line first always matters most to Warholm. “The goal is always to get the win,” he said.
Brazil’s Dos Santos finished second in a still-impressive 47.66, just ahead of USA’s CJ Allen (47.84), and will be better for the run.
Karsten Warholm on his way to a Diamond League record in the 400m hurdles in Monaco (© AFP / Getty Images)
The women’s sprint hurdles also produced a world lead, meeting record and personal best of 12.30 (0.6m/s) for 2019 world champion Nia Ali as she was pushed all the way by Keni Harrison (12.31). Alaysha Johnson completed the US treble in 12.39.
It’s rare meeting where the sprints are relegated to second billing but a regular occurrence in Monaco.
Nevertheless, world 200m champion Shericka Jackson dominated a strong field in her main event clocking 21.85 (0.2m/s) to win comfortably from Julien Alfred (22.08) and 2019 world champion Dina Asher-Smith (22.23).
African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala (9.92, 0.6m/s) defied a late challenge from fellow African Letsile Tebogo (9.93) to win the men’s 100m and declared his intent to claim the world title in Budapest.
In the women’s 400m flat, Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone was a non-starter after feeling a twinge during training yesterday. In her absence, in-form Polish sprinter Natalia Kaczmarek triumphed in 49.63, just ahead of USA’s Shamier Little in a personal best of 49.68.
The horizontal jumps produced two close and thrilling competitions.
Italy’s rising star Larissa Iapichino snatched victory in the final round of the women’s long jump, leaping a personal best of 6.95m to claim her third Diamond League victory of the season and press her claims as a genuine contender for the World Championships.
US champion Tara Davis-Woodhall had been languishing back in eighth place until the fifth round, when she produced her best jump of the competition, 6.88m, to propel herself into the lead ahead of the top three jump-off.
The 21-year-old Iapichino also made a last-gasp 6.81m leap in the fifth round to join Davis-Woodhall and world indoor champion Ivana Vuleta (6.86m) in the top three. But the Italian was the only one to improve in the sixth round to secure the win.
Long jump winner Larissa Iapichino in Monaco (© Marta Gorczynska / Diamond League AG)
World triple jump champion Yulimar Rojas fell short in her bid to qualify for Budapest in a second event, finishing 10th with 6.61m.
In the men’s triple jump, prodigious Jamaican teenager Jaydon Hibbert led until the last round of the competition with a best effort of 17.66m, when the experienced and decorated Hugues Fabrice Zango found a little extra energy to soar from third to first with 17.70m.
The oppressive conditions did seem to dampen the vertical jumps where the most surprising result of the day was world champion and world record-holder Mondo Duplantis’ fourth place with a best of 5.72m, his first loss of the year.
Duplantis certainly looked hot and bothered as he searched for rhythm on the runway in his last competition before the world championships, but later dismissed his performance as “just a bad day”.
World silver medallist Chris Nilsen had no such problem as he equalled his best performance of the season (5.92m) to clinch the win. Ernest Obiena and Kurtis Marschall both cleared 5.82m to take the minor placings.
In the women’s high jump, Australia’s Nicola Olyslagers continued her unbeaten run in Europe this year, making a last-ditch clearance of 1.99m to snatch victory from the Ukrainian duo of Iryna Geraschenko and Yaroslava Mahuchikh and world champion Eleanor Patterson, who all cleared 1.96m.
The javelins didn’t really fly either in the heavy air, but Czech world silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch claimed another win (85.95m) from Germany’s Julian Weber (84.23m) and Trinidad and Tobago’s Keshorn Walcott (81.31m).
Nicole Jeffery for World Athletics
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure