Mondo Duplantis in Hengelo (© Dan Vernon)
The Dutch elements did their best to put a dampener on the FBK Games but the driving rain, sweeping wind and bitter cold could not prevent Mondo Duplantis and Chase Ealey from posting world-leading marks, nor the inspired Eilish McColgan from eclipsing both a stellar 10,000m field and the historical deeds of her mother in the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Hengelo on Monday afternoon (6).
The highlight in the weather-beaten Fanny Blankers-Koen Stadion, however, came in the men’s javelin, where the Grenadian man for all seasons Anderson Peters slugged out a gripping duel with Germany’s Julian Weber.
“Mother nature was not in a good mood today,” mused Duplantis, who promptly shut up shop for the day after nailing the 6.01m clearance that put him top of the global outdoor pole vault tree for the year.
Peters put it more prosaically. “I hate this weather,” groaned the world champion of the javelin. “My hands were so cold I had no feeling in them when I took my first throw.”
Still, as the Grenadian thrower swiftly added: “You have to put on a show.” He and Weber certainly did that in a see-saw contest in which Klaus Tafelmeier’s ancient meeting record failed to survive the opening round.
First Weber, who finished fourth in last year’s Olympic final and sixth in the 2019 World Championships final, threw 84.91m to erase the 83.90m his compatriot threw here in 1986, the year in which Tafelmeier won the European title on home ground in Stuttgart.
Then Keshorn Walcott, the 2012 Olympic champion from Trinidad and Tobago, improved it to 85.64m. At that stage, Peters was down in third with an opening effort of 80.66m, but he took over as Hengelo’s all-time finest with 88.70m in round two.
Unperturbed, Weber reclaimed the meeting record in round three, the 27-year-old’s mighty 89.54m also eclipsing his lifetime best of 88.29m. Peters, however, had the final say, hurling his implement out to 90.75m in round four.
It was not quite as far as the 93.07m world lead he threw in the opening Wanda Diamond League fixture of the year in Doha on 13 May but, in the conditions, it was an equally impressive effort.
“It feels good to throw 90m-plus,” said Peters, who is now unbeaten in six competitions out of six in 2022. “I was worried about the conditions. It was windy, sometimes rainy. This is too cold for me.
“The battle between me and Weber was great. We like to see who the best man on the day is. I’m looking forward to defending my world title.”
For Duplantis, victory at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 next month would be a first. The world record-holder, Olympic and world indoor champion has yet to add the world outdoor title to his vaulting jigsaw.
The 22-year-old Swede had just four attempts here, clearing 5.55m, 5.70m, 5.80m and 6.01m first time – his 42nd time vaulting six metres or higher. Rutger Koppelaar of the Netherlands took second place with 5.70m, with Belgian Ben Brooders in third (5.60m).
“I had to use smaller poles and I could not grip as high as I normally would,” said Duplantis, who has only two more competitions before Eugene: the Wanda Diamond League meetings in Oslo and Stockholm.
“It’s only my second outdoor competition of the year. I’m still trying to figure a few things out with my jumping technique and my rhythm on the runway.
“I feel good jumping right now and I know that I can jump higher, so I’m not too stressed out about it. I’d like to jump a bit higher but it’s all part of the game, I guess. You’re not going to get perfect conditions every day.”
The other world lead came in the women’s shot, where Ealey got the better of herself, the world indoor silver medallist from the USA throwing 19.98m in the fourth round to better the19.76m she threw in Halle on 21 May.
Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo, who beat Ealey to the world indoor title in Belgrade in March, finished runner-up with 19.98m and Canada’s Sarah Mitton third with 19.24m. In fourth place, world indoor bronze medallist Jessica Schilder improved her Dutch record from18.89m to 19.17m.
In the women’s 10,000m, McColgan managed a mightily impressive degree of self-improvement and family advancement too.
Her mother (and coach) might have been a world champion and Olympic silver medallist at the distance but, at the age of 31, Eilish is rapidly emerging from the shadow of the legendary Liz and establishing the famous family name in her own right.
On 23 May she removed Paula Radcliffe’s 19-year-old European 10km road mark from the record books, running 30:19 in Manchester, and today she set off in dogged pursuit of Radcliffe’s 20-year-old continental track figures of 30:01.09 – despite the rain and the wind, and the fact that the global leading lights in the Ethiopian trial field had not the slightest interest in chasing her.
Not until the 4000m mark did McColgan lose touch with the wavelight. She passed halfway in 15:00.75, 200 metres clear of former world record-holder Almaz Ayana, and finished in 30:19.02 – a huge improvement on her PB of 30:58.94 and a Scottish record, eclipsing the 30:57.07 her mother set on the same track in 1991, the summer she won the world title in Tokyo.
It elevated the younger McColgan from 24th to fifth on the European all-time list – behind Sifan Hassan, Radcliffe, Lornah Kiplagat and Ingrid Kristiansen.
“I set out with the intention to chase the British record,” she confessed. “It was a lot tougher than I imagined. Still, it’s a PB and a Scottish record – my mum’s record, which she set here. She’ll be happy for me. She’s my coach.”
Letesenbet Gidey, who set the world record of 29:01.03 in the Ethiopian Olympic trial race in Hengelo last year, was content to win the race within a race for the first spot on her national team for Eugene, finishing runner-up to McColgan in 30:44.27.
World indoor 3000m bronze medallist Ejgayehu Taye was next home, clocking 30.44.68 on her debut at the distance. With Kenya’s world 5000m silver medallist Margaret Kipkemboi fourth in 30:45.00, the third Ethiopian team place was claimed by fifth-placed Bosena Mulate in 30:47.72 – ahead of Gebrzihair Girmawit (30:47.72) and Ayana (30:47.48).
The night before conditions had been near-perfect for the Ethiopian’s men’s trial, in which the field took turns with the pacing before Olympic 10,000m champion Selemon Barega surged to victory in 26:44.73, knocking one Mo Farah off the number 20 spot in the world all-time list. World U20 3000m champion Tadese Worku (26:45.91) and Berihu Aregawi (26:46.13) clinched the other team places for Eugene – ahead of Yomif Kejelcha (26:49.39).
Bol and Chemutai dominant over the barriers
In the final race of the day, with the rain at its heaviest, Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medallist Femke Bol of the Netherlands did well to battle her way to victory in 53.94, a 0.36 improvement on the meeting record she set in fair conditions a year ago.
“My coach just told me to focus on the race and not get distracted by the weather,” said Bol, who was followed home by Ukraine’s Anna Ryzhykova (55.62) and Britain’s Jessie Knight (55.81). “I hope to run faster in warm, dry weather in Rome.”
Olympic long jump champion Malaika Mihambo also moves on to the Wanda Diamond League in the Italian capital on Thursday (9) with a win under her belt, her fourth in four outings this season. The German had to draw on her customary fighting spirit, a final-round leap of 6.65m (1.6m/s) snatching victory from Quanesha Burks of the USA, who jumped a windy 6.53 (2.3m/s).
“I’m happy with the win,” said Mihambo. “It was a tough competition because of the weather.”
In the opening track event, Peruth Chemutai tasted victory for the first time since her 3000m steeplechase triumph at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Ugandan bided her time, kicking clear of Kenya’s Celliphine Chespol with 350 metres to go, hurdling clean over the water jump in trademark style and crossing the line in 9:14.00.
Chespol found herself outsprinted by Luiza Gega, who was rewarded for a plucky performance in her second steeplechase in four days (having won in Manchester on Friday night) with an Albanian record of 9:15.58. Chespol clocked 9:15.89 in third, with Sembo Alemayehu of Ethiopia fourth in 9:18.98.
“I am so happy with a national record,” said Gega. “I come from a small country. I hope to be an example for the younger athletes in my country.”
Kenya’s 2016 world U20 champion Kumari Taki timed his effort to perfection in the 1500m, bursting to the front with 250 metres remaining and holding off Poland’s Olympic finalist Michal Rozmys in the home straight to win in 3:34.77, a qualifying time for Eugene. Rozmys clocked 3:35.40 as runner-up, ahead of Filip Sasinek of the Czech Republic (3:36.40).
The heavens opened just as the women’s 400m runners were getting to their marks. Cuban Roxana Gomez mastered the conditions best, the former Pam-American U20 champion resisting the challenge of home hope Lieke Klaver to prevail in 51.18. Klaver took second in 51.34, with Briton Nicole Yeargin third in 51.56.
The conditions also played a part in the 110m hurdles, Jamaican Damion Thomas crashing at the seventh flight and former South American champion Eduardo Rodrigues of Brazil slipping as he crossed the line victorious in 13.34 (0.6m/s) ahead of Cyprus’ 2019 European indoor champion Milan Trajkovic (13.38).
Jamaica’s Britany Anderson got the better of world champion Nia Ali in the 100m hurdles, the Olympic finalist clocking 12.51 (0.4m/s) to the US athlete’s 12.69. Tonea Marshall pipped US teammate Tia Jones for third, 12.70 to 12.71.
Following her stunning 3:54.21 win at the Wanda Diamond League in Eugene, Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon needed to draw on her strength in the home straight to emerge victorious over 800m. The Kenyan held on in 2:00.36 as Oceania record-holder Catriona Bisset came close to claiming the scalp of Uganda’s world champion Halimah Nakaayi in a photo finish for second place.
Nakaayi was the given the verdict for runner up in 2:00.87, with Australian Bisset third in 2:00.90. “I’m happy,” said Kipyegon. “The weather was not perfect for a fast time but this was good to test my speed. The 800m is not my race.”
Yohan Blake, world champion back in 2011, got off to a cracking start in the 100m and held his advantage to the line, winning in 10.11 (-0.3m/s) as Kyree King of the US took second (10.23). “I can still do it,” he said. “Everything is possible for me this season.”
Olympic finalist Daryll Neita was a clear winner of the women’s 100m in 11.19 (0.8m/s).
Simon Turnbull for World Athletics