Jakob Ingebrigtsen wins the 1500m in Silesia (© Ed Hall)
Some of the biggest stars in the sport shone bright at the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial in Silesia, with the likes of Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Yulimar Rojas and Mutaz Barshim breaking meeting records with world-leading marks at the Wanda Diamond League meeting on Sunday (16).
While many winners – like Mondo Duplantis, or 400m winners Wayde van Niekerk and Natalia Kaczmarek – triumphed with comfortable margins, there were several close finishes throughout the afternoon. Some of them resulted in meeting records being broken; other victories – like those in both 100m races – provided a much-needed confident boost for the winners ahead of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23.
One month on from his record-breaking run on home soil in Oslo, world and Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen took another chunk off his European 1500m record and climbed up several places on the world all-time list, winning here in 3:27.14.
The Norwegian latched on to the pacemakers for the first three laps, passing through 400m in 55.8 and 800m in 1:51.6. Stewart McSweyn, the final pacemaker, stepped aside with 300m metres to go, then Ingebrigtsen forged on ahead, creating more distance between himself and the rest of the field.
He maintained his form to the end, crossing the line in 3:27.14 to take 0.81 off his previous best, moving to fourth on the world all-time list. Just 1.14 seconds now stands between Ingebrigtsen and the world record.
"You can't always think about records," said Ingebrigtsen. "Today I wanted one, but I will now be focusing completely on getting ready for the World Championships."
Kenya’s Abel Kipsang was second in a PB of 3:29.11 and his compatriot Reynold Kipkorir Cheruiyot was third in 3:30.30. Andrew Coscoran broke his own Irish record to finish fourth in 3:30.42.
World and Olympic champion Yulimar Rojas pulled out a world-leading 15.18m in the final round of the triple jump, having been under pressure throughout the first five rounds.
The Venezuelan jumped 14.80m in round two, but Cuba’s Leyanis Perez-Hernandez was close behind (14.67m). Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk then jumped 14.70m in the fifth round, to which Rojas responded with 14.86m. But the world record-holder ended her series with a meeting record leap to underline that she is still the favourite heading into next month’s World Championships.
Mutaz Barshim was another world and Olympic champion to enjoy a confidence-boosting win in Silesia. The Qatari high jumper hadn’t competed since his 2.24m third-place finish in Doha at the start of May, but in Silesia he looked back to his best as he cleared every height on his first try up to and including 2.32m.
Fellow Olympic champion Gianmarco Tamberi also got over that bar, albeit with a few misses along the way, but the big surprise came from Germany’s Tobias Potye, who was the first to get over 2.34m.
Tamberi soon joined him in clearing that height, but Barshim registered two failures. With one jump remaining, Barshim moved the bar to 2.36m and got over it on his first attempt to regain the lead with a meeting record, while his two opponents missed.
The meeting record was also broken – and shared – in the women’s high jump. Ukraine’s Iryna Gerashchenko won on countback from Australia’s Nicola Olyslagers and Ukraine’s Yuliia Levchenko, all three of them clearing 1.98m.
The other world-leading mark of the day, meanwhile, came in the women’s javelin, courtesy of Haruka Kitaguchi.
The world bronze medallist took an early lead with 64.12m, but Australia’s Mackenzie Little jumped into pole position with a fourth-round throw of 64.50m. Kitaguchi responded in the next round with a meeting record of 65.82m, but she wasn’t done.
With her final throw of the contest, Kitaguchi sent her spear soaring out to a Japanese record of 67.04m, adding more than a metre to the meeting record.
Meshesha and Hailu take distance wins for Ethiopia
One of the best quality races of the afternoon came in the women’s 1500m, which wasn’t a scoring event in the Diamond League but saw the first three women finish in 3:55 or quicker.
The pacemaker led the field through the first two laps in a swift 2:05.7, after which Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji took up the leading duties, followed closely by compatriots Hirut Meshesha, Birke Haylom and Worknesh Mesele.
World U20 champion Haylom, still just 17 years of age, moved to the front with one lap to go, but Welteji and Meshesha responded and moved in front of the teenager as they approached the back straight. Welteji continued to lead coming off the final bend, but Meshesha and Haylom kicked hard and overtook their compatriot.
In an enthralling finish, Meshesha edged ahead to win in a meeting record of 3:54.87, while Haylom finished a close second in 3:54.93, breaking Faith Kipyegon’s African U20 record. Welteji, the winner here last year and former meeting record-holder, was third this time in a PB of 3:55.08. Mesele completed an Ethiopian sweep of the first four places in 3:57.00.
In what proved to be the deepest Diamond League race of all time, there were PBs for the next five finishers, including Australia’s Linden Hall, who set an Oceanian record of 3:57.27, and British duo Melissa Courtney-Bryant (3:58.01) and Jemma Reekie (3:58.65).
There was another Ethiopian victory – and meeting record – later in the afternoon as Freweyni Hailu overcame a strong challenge from Kenya’s Lilian Kasait Rengeruk. Hailu was positioned behind Rengeruk for most of the race, but made a decisive move on the final back straight and kicked on to win in 8:26.61.
Rengeruk was second in 8:27.80 and world indoor champion Lemlem Hailu was third in 8:29.43, just 0.05 ahead of Kenya’s Teresiah Muthoni Gateri. Further down the field, 18-year-old Agate Caune of Latvia set a national record of 8:39.78, moving her to second on the European U20 all-time list.
There was record depth in the women’s 100m hurdles as world champion Tobi Amusan of Nigeria produced her best run of the year, pushed all the way by US duo Kendra Harrison and Nia Ali.
Ali, the 2019 world champion, got the better start, but Amusan and Harrison gradually made up ground in the second half and inched in front. Amusan had the superior finish and claimed the victory on the line, clocking 12.34 to equal the meeting record. Harrison was close behind in 12.35, equalling her season’s best, with Ali finishing third in 12.38.
It’s the first time three women have finished inside 12.40 and seven women have finished inside 12.60.
Van Niekerk and Kaczmarek impress over one lap
World record-holder Wayde van Niekerk continued his comeback in the men’s 400m.
The South African ran a well-judged race to pull well clear of his opponents in the second half, going on to win by more than half a second in 44.08. Not only did it take 0.03 off the meeting record set last year by world champion Michael Norman, it was also Van Niekerk’s fastest time since winning the 2017 world title.
The race also marked the encouraging return of world 400m hurdles champion Alison dos Santos, contesting his first race of the year after a knee injury delayed the start of his season. Dos Santos finished third, just behind Botswana’s Bayapo Ndori (44.61), the Brazilian clocking 44.73 – just 0.19 shy of his personal best.
Dos Santos will compete in his specialist event at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco next week, taking on Olympic champion Karsten Warholm and US champion Rai Benjamin.
Natalia Kaczmarek earned one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon as the Pole won the women’s 400m in a meeting record of 49.48.
Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands got off to a speedy start and held the lead at half way, but Kaczmarek ran well off the final bend and gradually pulled ahead to cross the line in a PB of 49.48 – the fastest time by a Polish woman since Irena Szewinska won the 1976 Olympic title in 49.29, still the Polish record.
Klaver finished second in a PB of 49.81, while world silver medallist Marileidy Paulino was never in contention and placed third in 50.00.
Kenya’s Mary Moraa, who has focused on the 400m in recent races, moved back to the 800m in Silesia. The Commonwealth champion controlled the flow of the race for the first 600 metres, then kicked hard for home, pulling clear to win by almost a second in a meeting record of 1:56.85, just 0.14 shy of her PB.
Uganda’s 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi was second in a national record of 1:57.78 with Jamaica’s Natoya Goule placing third (1:57.90).
Richardson and Simbine beat world sprint champions
World champions Shericka Jackson and Fred Kerley were both beaten in close finishes in the 100m events.
Kerley, contesting his first 100m race for six weeks, tried his best to chase down Akani Simbine and US champion Cravont Charleston in the closing stages of the men’s 100m. Charleston faded slightly, but Simbine held on for victory, winning in 9.97 in still conditions.
In a race where just 0.04 separated the top five men, Kerley was second in 9.98, just a whisker ahead of Cameroon’s Emmanuel Eseme, who was given the same time. Charleston was fourth (9.99) and Yohan Blake fifth (10.01).
Jackson, the world champion over 200m, stepped down to the 100m, having clocked a world-leading 10.65 at the recent Jamaican Championships. She didn’t get the best start, but had a comfortable lead at half way, having overtaken early leader Ewa Swoboda.
But once Sha’Carri Richardson hit her top gear, the US sprinter came through to claim victory in 10.76 (0.2m/s), just 0.02 ahead of Jackson. Swoboda, meanwhile, finished third in a PB of 10.94, the first sub-11-second run of her career.
Other world champions fared better, with Mondo Duplantis winning the pole vault with 6.01m. The Swede had first-time clearances up to and including that height, but was unsuccessful at 6.13m. Two-time world champion Sam Kendricks was second (5.91m).
World record-holder Ryan Crouser won the shot put with 22.55m, landing two throws beyond 22.50m. US compatriot Payton Otterdahl was second (21.88m) and New Zealand’s Tom Walsh third (21.78m).
The men’s steeplechase was one of 12 disciplines in which a meeting record was set, world and Olympic steeplechase champion Soufiane El Bakkali enjoying a comfortable victory in 8:03.16.