Lamecha Girma breaks the world indoor 3000m record in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)
Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma, who has one Olympic and two world silver medals at the 3000m steeplechase, had a golden moment at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais on Wednesday (15), breaking the world indoor 3000m record with a stunning 7:23.81* run at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold event.
After a prolonged mano-a-mano challenge with Spain’s Mohamed Katir, both athletes dipped under the previous world record of 7:24.90 set by Kenya’s Daniel Komen in Budapest on 6 February 1998, Katir finishing second in a European record of 7:24.68.
It was fourth time lucky in Lievin for Girma, who had contested the 3000m at this meeting for the past three years. In 2020 he missed out on a top-three finish. In 2021 he ran 7:27.98, one of the fastest times in history, but finished some way behind compatriots Getnet Wale and Selemon Barega. Girma then won the 3000m here in 2022 but was a couple of seconds shy of his PB.
This time, though, the world indoor silver medallist was the man of the moment.
"I am so happy with this result," said Girma. “I was talking about this world record attempt for the past three days. My brother is my coach. He told me I had it in me and of course I believed him. I felt really good in training and it was my best form ever, plus the crowd was very supportive today.
"The pacers and the Wavelight were perfect – it all clicked. I have raced here several times in this meeting. The atmosphere and the crowd never disappoint. I hope the record stays for a long time."
Paced through 1000m in 2:28.49, the leaders were right on schedule. As Girma took over, the clock showed 4:58.38 as he passed 2000m and he went on to race to a time of 7:23.81, taking more than a second off Komen's 25-year-old mark.
It was the 11th world record to have been set at the Arena Stade Couvert since home runner Bruno Marie-Rose won the European indoor 200m title in 20.36.
And this epic race, in which Katir shadowed the Ethiopian without managing to get past him, provided the crowning moment of a fifth World Indoor Tour Gold meeting of the season which saw six athletes – Keely Hodgkinson, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Gudaf Tsegay, Miltiadis Tentoglou, Liadagmis Povea and Katie Moon – set world-leading marks.
Both 400m meeting records were re-written by 400m hurdles specialists as Femke Bol of the Netherlands clocked 50.20 in the women’s race and Norway’s Karsten Warholm rounded off the night with a typically barnstorming effort to clock 45.51 in the men’s race.
And there was defeat in the men’s 60m for Italy’s Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs, who had to give best to an effervescent Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya.
All in all, a full evening of excitement for a capacity crowd of 5000.
Ingebrigtsen, returning to the track where he set the world indoor 1500m record of 3:30.60 last year, had suspected he would not be operating in that region after missing more than a month’s training because of a viral infection.
But after working hard for a victory in 3:32.38 that took him past the 3:33.22 set by Yared Nuguse of the United States at the top of this year’s world list, he had the look of a relieved and happy man.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen on his way to 1500m victory in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)
Before the race the 22-year-old Norwegian had declared: “My main goal is to figure out where I am at.” Job done. And in March he will be in Istanbul for the European Indoor Championships.
“It was a tough race, but it’s good to get one race in and I am very happy with it,” he said. “So now I’m looking forward to defending my 1500m and 3000m titles at the European Indoors.”
Home runner Azeddine Habz took second place in a personal best of 3:35.27 ahead of Spain’s Adel Mechaal, who recorded 3:36.55.
Tsegay, as expected, was in a race of her own over the second half of the women’s 1500m, but the green snake of lights indicating the world record pace she had set on this track two years ago, when she ran 3:53.09, slithered just beyond her reach.
She was gritting her teeth as she came through for the bell but hung on to lower her world-leading mark of the season, set at 3:59.48 en route to her second-fastest indoor mile of all time in Torun a week ago, with a time of 3:57.47.
Gudaf Tsegay races the 1500m in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)
Britain’s Hodgkinson was steely in the women’s 800m as she disposed of the challenge of Kenya’s Mary Moraa, who beat her to the Commonwealth title in Birmingham last summer, to win in 1:57.71, bettering her own world lead of 1:57.87 set in Torun seven days ago.
The 22-year-old world and Olympic silver medallist had said she was “a bit disappointed” with her time in Poland, and she looked thoughtful rather than triumphant after a victory that was effectively established as the pacemaker peeled away shortly before the 600m mark.
Moraa finished well back, but still earned a personal best of 2:00.61, with French-based 37-year-old Noelie Yarigo of Benin taking third place in 2:01.47.
Tentouglou, Greece’s Olympic and world indoor champion in the men’s long jump, produced a mark of 8.32m with his first attempt and added five centimetres to it in round two.
He didn’t stop there either, raising his best on the night to 8.41m with his fourth attempt, at which point he retired from the competition. Sweden’s Thobias Montler was the only other jumper able to operate in 8.00m-plus territory, leaping 8.06m.
The women’s triple jump produced a similar turn of events as Cuba’s Povea improved the world lead of 14.64m she had managed in the opening World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Karlsruhe with a third-round effort of 14.81m.
The result in Germany was replicated as her compatriot Levanis Perez Hernandez took second place with a personal best of 14.65m ahead of Ukraine’s European champion Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk on 14.01m.
In the women’s pole vault, USA’s Olympic and world champion Moon was all smiles after winning with a mark of 4.83m from Tina Sutej of Slovenia, who cleared 4.78m.
Katie Moon celebrates her world-leading pole vault performance in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)
Omanyala, also a smiling winner after his men’s 60m heat, maintained his happy mood by defeating Olympic 100m champion Jacobs in the final in a national record of 6.54, with the Italian equalling his season’s best of 6.57 in second place ahead of Arthur Cisse of the Ivory Coast, who clocked 6.59.
Four days after reducing the Dutch indoor 400m record to 49.96 in Metz, Bol was in dominant form once again. Just unable to get under 50 seconds once more, she came home more than a second clear of Poland’s Anna Kielbasinska in a meeting record of 50.20.
“I would have liked to get 49,” the 22-year-old said. “I think it was the second lap that made the difference. It was a tough last 50 metres. But now I will do Europeans for sure.”
Warholm, who opened his season with a 45.31 clocking at his home meeting in Ulsteinvik, had thoughts of bettering the European record of 45.05 he shares with East Germany’s Thomas Schoenlebe. After passing 200m in 21.3, bang on target, he was unable to find the required pace over the second lap in what was nevertheless another highly encouraging pointer for the world 400m hurdles record-holder’s prospects at this summer’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
Meanwhile Olympic, world and European men’s pole vault champion Mondo Duplantis maintained his winning momentum in his third event of the season but cut short his activities after clearing 6.01m at his second attempt, leaving an attempt at bettering his world record of 6.21m for another day.
Duplantis had seemed less than happy from his first effort, at 5.64m, where he sailed over but left a trailing knee close to the bar on the way down. After passing at 5.73m, a first-time clearance at 5.82m established him as joint-leader with Italy’s Claudio Stecchi, who had also managed 5.82m, a personal best, with his first effort.
A rare blemish occurred on the Duplantis scoresheet as he took two attempts to clear 5.91m, but as all four remaining rivals went out at that point it was hardly critical, with Stecchi finishing second on a night he will long remember.
Australia’s double Commonwealth champion Kurtis Marschall and Jacob Wooten of the United States finished joint third, with countback consigning Chris Nilsen to fifth place, all on 5.82m.
The pugnacious figure of Benjamin Robert shadowed Sweden’s Andreas Kramer at the bell in the men’s 800m before bustling past him just before the final bend and holding position to win in 1:46.78 – to loud acclamation.
As Kramer faded he was passed by Belgium’s Eliott Crestan, who clocked 1:47.23, and 2019 world silver medallist Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina, third in 1:47.86.
As it turned out, the Frenchman’s winning time was slower than those recorded by the first two home in the previous men’s B race, where Tony van Diepen of the Netherlands won in a personal best of 1:46.36 from Morocco’s Moad Zahafi in 1:46.64.
Grant Holloway’s incredible unbeaten indoor run in the 60m hurdles, stretching back to 2014 when he was 16, abides. The two-time world 110m hurdles champion from the United States, a peerless starter, was first to hurdle one once again and proceeded to win in 7.39, just 0.01 outside his current season-leading mark.
Grant Holloway wins the 60m hurdles in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)
Compatriot Daniel Roberts was second in a season’s best of 7.43 ahead of home runner and 2018 European champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in 7.52.
The heats had seen another local hero Kevin Mayer, decathlon’s world champion and record-holder, finish fifth in 7.80 in a race won by Holloway in 7.40, comfortably the fastest qualifying time.
With 1000m remaining in the women’s 3000m, the race was between Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji and Lemlem Hailu, 30 metres clear of their nearest challengers.
At the bell, Hailu charged ahead of her compatriot but failed to move clear and Welteji produced a final effort over the last 20 metres that took her to victory in 8:34.84, with Hailu clocking 8:35.15. An Ethiopian top three was achieved as Mizam Alem came home in a personal best of 8:39.03 from Uganda’s Sarah Chelangat, whose 8:41.16 was also a personal best.
Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek won the women’s 400m B final in a personal best of 50.90.
Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure