Jakob Ingebrigtsen on his way to the 2000m world record in Brussels (© AFP / Getty Images)
Brussels’ re-vamped King Baudouin Stadium, with its super-fast new track, was able to celebrate a world record on Friday (8) in the penultimate Wanda Diamond League meeting of the season – courtesy of the endlessly talented Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the men’s 2000m.
On a night when Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, hoping to get closer to – or even past – the women’s world 200m record of 21.34, had to settle for a Diamond League record of 21.48, the 22-year-old Norwegian won his battle with the clock over the final 600 metres to set a new mark of 4:43.13.
Sweden’s world and Olympic pole vault champion Mondo Duplantis, the centre of attention at the end of a hot and humid evening, then had three efforts at improving his world record to 6.23m, the last of them tantalisingly close.
Ingebrigtsen’s victory tonight was a first outdoor world record for the 22-year-old Norwegian, who set a world indoor 1500m record of 3:30.60 last year and, at this season’s Paris Diamond League meeting, ran a two miles world best of 7:54.10.
After the huge blow of a second successive defeat to a Briton in a world 1500m final Ingebrigtsen, who said at the time he had been feeling under par, has re-grouped in a spectacular way, recovering in Budapest to retain his world 5000m title and then taking time out back home in Sandnes before venturing out for more mythical activity.
As he lined up, Ingebrigtsen raised a single finger into the air – and there was certainly no wind for him to be testing.
The pace target for the halfway mark was 2:21, but the time had drifted out at that point to 2:22.28. Ingebrigtsen, however, looked calm and comfortable, and after the last pacer moved aside with just over 600 metres remaining, the redoubtable Norwegian was off on his solo mission.
The crowd roared and rose to him as he drove around the final bend in his quest to erase the formidable mark of 4:44.79 set in Berlin in 1999 by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj – whose outdoor world records for the 1500m (3:26.00) and mile (3:43.13) the prodigiously talented young Norwegian already covets.
“It’s always fun to break a record,” Ingebrigtsen said. “This one qualifies as a world record and not as a world best. I knew I was able to break this one, but I had some kind of virus 10 days ago and I didn’t really know how I would be feeling today.
“However, I felt really good and ran a good race. To be honest, this record wasn’t a difficult one for me. Sure, when you have to do it alone, it’s really tough, but I got great help from the pacemakers. Actually they were able to help me more than I expected.”
A rarely-run distance yielded riches for many of those in Ingebrigtsen’s wake. Reynold Cheruiyot was second in a world U20 best and senior Kenyan record of 4:48.14, with Australia’s Stewart McSweyn setting an Oceanian record of 4:48.77 in third place, and Dutch rising talent Niels Laros, 18, finishing fourth in a European U20 record of 4:49.68.
There was a Spanish record of 4:49.85 for fifth-placed Mario Garcia, a personal best of 4:50.64 for Norway’s world 1500m bronze medallist Narve Nordas, a North American record of 4:51.54 for Canada’s Charles Philibert-Thiboutot and a Belgian record of 4:52.37 for Ruben Verheyden.
Jackson had described herself before this race as “right there, so close, knocking on the door” of the world 200m record of 21.34 set by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner of the United States in winning the 1988 Olympic title.
She remains on the doorway after another massively impressive performance that fell just short of her ambitions as she clocked a time 0.07 slower than the one she produced to retain the world title last month.
Even what she had described as the “Jamaican weather” proved insufficient to get her over the threshold. But as she also reminded everyone on the eve of the racing, if she was not successful here, she had “another shot” at the Diamond League final in Eugene from September 16 to 17. That is going to be a shot worth witnessing…
On the night she was followed home by Anthonique Strachan of The Bahamas in 22.31 and Jenna Prandini of the United States in 22.47.
“You just have to put in your best and that’s what I did today,” said Jackson, who now owns three of the four fastest times in history. “It felt really good tonight, I definitely feel like I’m getting there, closer to that record. But it’s also important to have some fun and I really had fun tonight.
“It has been a good season and I hope to get one more win and to get closer to that record.”
Duplantis, whose single outdoor defeat last season took place here, ensured there would be no repeat of that occurrence on the smooth new run-up since installed.
First-time clearances of 5.62m, 5.82m and 5.92m were enough to see off all but the lingering challenges of Sam Kendricks, the 2017 and 2019 world champion from the United States, and world silver medallist Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines.
Kendricks, enjoying renewed form at the tail end of the season, was a thankful figure after going over 5.82m first time, but that was his limit; Obiena was also unable to progress further, finishing third.
Having delivered the coup de grace with a first-time clearance of 6.02m, world and Olympic champion Duplantis moved the bar up to 6.10m, just two centimetres shy of the world lead he set in Ostrava, and flipped over without a problem.
On, inevitably, excitingly to the world record mark of 6.23m, one centimetre higher than he achieved indoors at Clermont-Ferrand on 25 February.
His preferred musical start-up – Loading, by Central Cee – was duly broadcast. Attempt one was a no-no; attempt two was close. His third attempt on an evening when the temperature was dropping, admittedly to 27C, and a breath of wind arriving, was even closer.
Duplantis’s face was utter determination as he approached. It seemed he had it, the bar bending down into a rueful smile and hanging on for a moment before joining him on the landing mat.
"I have mixed feelings," said Duplantis. "The track is really great and I would have loved giving the public the world record, but to be honest my jumps were bad today. Even that last attempt on 6.23m – it was close, but it wasn't a great jump. I really believe that I should have made it today. I had it in me to jump the world record today and I really thought that I was going to do it."
Dutch world 400m hurdles champion Femke Bol won in 52.11, shattering the meeting record of 53.54 run here in 1998 by Morocco’s double world champion Nezha Bidouane.
Bol made her move around the final bend and emerged with narrow lead on the finishing straight which had changed to a distant lead by the line, with Jamaican runners Janieve Russell and world bronze medallist Rushell Clayton second and third in 53.80 and 54.10 respectively.
“It was my first Brussels Diamond League meeting and I loved it so much,” Bol said. “The crowd was amazing. So loud. It was like being at home.
“My time was pretty good for the end of a season, especially knowing that my first few hurdles did not go that great. It is my second best performance in a Diamond League this year and my third fastest time.”
Haruka Kitaguchi, who won the world javelin title last month by taking the lead with her sixth throw, produced a similar flourish here as her final effort went out to a world-leading Japanese record of 67.38m – and was clearly a source of delight.
This time, however, an athlete whose emotions are always on display had already secured what would have been a winning lead with her second-round throw of 65.20m. Austria’s Victoria Hudson was second with a season’s best of 64.65m, while Colombia’s world silver medallist Flor Denis Ruiz Hurtado had to settle for fourth place on 62.51m.
“I still have some goals to chase this season,” said Kitaguchi. “I hope to throw over 68 metres – maybe at the Diamond League final.”
Ukraine’s 21-year-old world champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh was a convincing winner of the women’s high jump, concluding with first-time clearances of 1.97m and 2.00m, but was unable to improve upon that, despite having three shots at 2.04m.
It was a grand night for Serbia’s 18-year-old Angelina Topic, who equalled her national record of 1.97m to claim second place ahead of Australia’s 2022 world champion Eleanor Patterson, who cleared 1.94m.
Kenny Bednarek of the United States won the men’s 200m in a season’s best of 19.79 from Britain’s world 100m bronze medallist Zharnel Hughes, who clocked 19.82, Canada’s Olympic champion Andre De Grasse, with a season’s best of 19.89, and his teammate Aaron Brown, fourth in 19.98, also a season’s best.
There were season’s bests also in the women’s 100m for Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, who clocked 10.84, and second-placed compatriot Natasha Morrison, who ran 10.95, with third place going to Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith in 10.97.
The women’s 1500m lived up to its promise of being a hugely competitive event given the presence of the five women who had followed home the medallists in Budapest.
And it was Britain’s Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir, fifth in the world final, who won here after taking the lead at the bell and hanging on in characteristically determined fashion to hold off the continued challenge of Ciara Mageean down the back straight, round the final bend and down the straight.
Muir won in a season’s best of 3:55.34, moving her up to sixth on this year’s world list, with Mageean clocking an Irish record of 3:55.87 and Kenya’s Nelly Chepchirchir third in 3:56.93 from Jessica Hull of Australia, who recorded 3:57.75.
Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts won the women’s triple jump with a third-round personal best of 15.01m, finally breaking through the 15-metre barrier after notching up seven competitions beyond 14.90m since 2019.
Ukraine’s European champion and world silver medallist Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk was second on 14.57m from Thea Lafond of Dominica, who reached 14.49m.
Algeria’s Djamel Sedjati powered home to win the men’s 800m in 1:43.60 from France’s Yanis Meziane, whose personal best of 1:43.94 will already be raising hopes for a national team that came away from Budapest with just one medal and with a huge weight of expectation ahead at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Kenya’s Lilian Rengeruk won the women’s 5000m in 14:26.46 from Medina Eisa of Ethiopia on 14:28.94, with Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka setting a national record of 14:29.18 in third place.
The concluding track event, the men’s 400m, was won by Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald in 44.84 from Alexander Ogando of the Dominican Republic in 44.93.
Serbia’s world champion Ivana Vuleta won the women’s long jump with 6.74m, but Dutch Paralympian Fleur Jong finishing second on countback with the same mark.
There was cause for further celebration as the opening track event of the Diamond League programme, the women’s 400m, went to home athlete Cynthia Bolingo, fifth in the world final, who moved past Lieke Klaver of the Netherlands in the final strides to clock 50.09, winning by 0.07.
Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics