Devynne Charlton with her world record figures in New York (© Getty Images)
The elite programme at the Millrose Games got off to a rousing start when Devynne Charlton blazed to a stunning world 60m hurdles record*, clocking 7.67 at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in New York on Sunday (11).
Placed between two-time world champion Danielle Williams and Nia Ali, a two-time indoor world champ, the Bahamian rocketed out of the blocks and led wire-to-wire.
Williams was second in 7.79 while Tia Jones, whose PB of 7.72 was the class of the field last week in Boston, was also timed in 7.79 for third. Ali came in seventh at 7.95.
Charlton set the tone on a day in which Josh Kerr posted a world best in the men’s two miles. Yared Nuguse couldn’t quite match him, despite running the third-fastest indoor mile, and Elle St Pierre led five national record setters in the women’s mile.
Charlton was coming off sensational outings of 7.88 in Louisville, a 7.75 national record in Lubbock, and 7.76 in Boston. She said her race at The Armory, in which she shaved .01 off Susanna Kallur’s 7.68 set 16 years and one day earlier, didn’t feel like a record.
“It felt fast,” Charlton said. “I felt myself separate from the field, but when they announced the time, it was a shock to me.”
And it was all a blur. “If I tried to recall that race for you, I’d be lying,” Charlton said. “I got the start and that was it.”
Charlton earned world indoor silver in 2022 and feels ready to take the top step of the podium in Glasgow this year.
“When I saw that clock, I felt relief,” she said. “When you set a goal and work towards it all year, and then you achieve it, it makes you feel you're on top of the world.”
While Charlton’s record was a surprise, Kerr did what he came to do in the men’s two miles. The 1500m world champion from Great Britain obliterated compatriot Mo Farah’s 8:03.40 from 2015.
In his first race of the year, Kerr said he thought he would have to push the pace with about seven laps to go. But he was content to stay behind Grant Fisher of the US. They passed the mile with Fisher at 4:03.37 and Kerr at 4:03.63.
“It’s so much harder than (the) 1500m, just because it hurts from so early on,” Kerr said.
Kerr surged into the lead with 300m to go, acknowledging the crowd – including a group with a ‘Kerr’s Corner’ sign – with a wave as he approached the finish line. His final lap was 56.97.
“With 100m to go, I knew I had it,” Kerr said, “so I just wanted to have fun with it. I don’t need to break everything by a lot; I just wanted to break it.”
Fisher had to be satisfied with the US best of 8:03.62, shattering Galen Rupp’s 8:07.41 from 2014, and the third-best time in history.
No mile record for Nuguse
When Nuguse saw Kerr’s time, he felt a boost of confidence that he could also run into the record books.
“I was like, ‘The track is fast’,” Nuguse said. “I felt really good about it coming in, but it is what it is.”
Although he successfully defended his Wanamaker Mile title, keeping challengers Hobbs Kessler and George Mills at bay, Nuguse fell short of the world record and his own time from last year.
Nuguse crossed the finish line in 3:47.83, the third-fastest performance in history, after a 55.96 final lap. He ran 3:47.38 last year, with the world record still Yomif Kejelcha’s 3:47.01 from 2019.
“I’m still happy with how I’ve run that race and I still feel like I’m not necessarily at my peak,” he said.
Kessler was second with 3:48.66 while Mills was third in 3:48.93, PBs for both.
The women’s two miles took an unfortunate turn right at the start when Ethiopian teenager Medina Eisa made the move that eventually disqualified her.
Eisa, the world U20 5000m champion, had started in the outside group and cut in too early. Laura Muir, who got the official victory in 9:04.84, a British record, saw the mistake immediately.
“I could see she was a bit confused at the start, so I tried to show her,” Muir said. On the final straight, when Eisa passed her to finish in 9:04.39, Muir knew that she would be declared the winner.
Muir had planned to defend her Wanamaker Mile title, but switched to the two miles to chase the 3000m qualifying standard for the World Indoor Championships. She passed 3000m in 8:31.45 to easily punch her ticket for Glasgow.
“I’m not someone who likes to hide from competition,” Muir said of missing the mile, but she was focused on “getting the job done.”
She credited Alicia Monson for doing a lot of the front-running. Melknat Wudu was second in 9:07.12 and Monson set a US record of 9:09.70.
Without Muir in the field, the women’s Wanamaker Mile was a rematch between St Pierre, the US record-holder, and Australia’s Jessica Hull, who prevailed when they clashed in the 3000m a week earlier.
“Getting outkicked (in Boston) definitely gave me some motivation this weekend,” said St Pierre.
After trailing Hull with a half mile to go, St Pierre made her move at the bell and cruised to a world-leading 4:16.41, taking 0.44 off her own US record from 2020. Hull was second with an Australian record of 4:19.03. National records were also set by Susan Ejore of Kenya (4:20.61), Yolanda Ngarambe of Sweden (4:23.69) and Maria Perez of Spain (4:23.88).
“It feels good to be back out there and see that I can still do the things that I was doing before I had a baby,” said St Pierre, who gave birth to her son 11 months ago. “I feel stronger than ever. There’s a lot of new moms out there in the running industry right now and it’s really inspiring to see a lot of other people come back after having a baby and seeing them compete at a higher level.”
Sprints take centre stage
Julien Alfred captured the world lead in the 60m in 6.99, her fourth-fastest indoor 60m and .05 better than her previous season’s best. She finished well ahead of Jamaica’s Shashalee Forbes at 7.14.
“Sometimes at the end of races, I tend to fall apart,” Alfred said. “I knew I got away quickly, but it didn’t feel like a sub-7.00 race at all to me. It does give me encouragement going into the Olympics and World Indoors.”
Just minutes earlier, the unheralded Dylan Beard produced one of the biggest upsets of the evening when he sped to victory in the men’s 60m hurdles in 7.44. Beard, whose PB before this year was 7.68, defeated world medallists Daniel Roberts (7.51) and Trey Cunningham (7.52). Cordell Tinch was a close fourth in 7.52.
Christian Coleman won his third straight Millrose 60m on his season opener. The world record-holder trailed Japan’s Hakim Sani Brown, but thundered to the tape in 6.51. Sani Brown was second in 6.54, equalling his PB.
World champion Yaroslava Mahuchikh of Ukraine won the high jump from 2016 world indoor champion Vashti Cunningham. The pair were tied with clean cards up to and including 1.94m, but a first-time clearance at 1.97m – breaking a meeting record that had stood since 1989 – gave Mahuchikh the edge.
Cunningham eventually got over it on her third try, but went no higher, while the Ukrainian went on to clear 2.00m before ending her evening with three unsuccessful tries at 2.05m.
In the first men’s pole vault at the Millrose Game since 2014, world silver medallist Chris Nilsen defeated KC Lightfoot on countback, both men clearing 5.92m.
Elsewhere, Bryce Hoppel overtook world indoor silver medallist Noah Kibet as they rounded the final turn to win the men’s 800m in 1:45.54. Kibet was second in 1:46.09.
Allie Wilson battled past Olivia Baker and Olympic bronze medallist Raevyn Rogers in the final lap to win the women’s 800m in 2:01.61. Talitha Diggs posted a PB of 36.21 to take comfortable win in the women’s 300m over Rhasidat Adeleke.
Karen Rosen for World Athletics
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure