Report10 Feb 2024

Tsegay, Girma and Holloway threaten world indoor records in Lievin


Gudaf Tsegay wins the 3000m in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)

Gudaf Tsegay, Lamecha Girma and Grant Holloway all came tantalisingly close to producing the best performances in history in their respective disciplines at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais Trophée EDF on Saturday (10).

Tsegay, the world 10,000m champion, came within a whisker of the world indoor record to win the 3000m at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Lievin. Girma, meanwhile, produced the second-fastest time in history for 2000m indoors, while Holloway equalled his own 60m hurdles meeting record of 7.32 – just 0.03 shy of his own world indoor record.

Racing on the track where she set the world indoor 1500m record three years ago, Tsegay followed the pacemakers through the first kilometres, covering it in 2:44.49, but the pace during those opening laps was at times a bit erratic. After passing through half-way in 4:07.74, Tsegay took up the running a few laps later, once the pacemakers dropped out.

By the time she reached 2000m in 5:29.38 – inside world record pace – she had a seven-second lead over world steeplechase record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech. But after having to move into lane two to pass lapped runners, Tsegay’s final kilometre ended up being her slowest of the race and she crossed the line in 8:17.11, the third-fastest indoor clocking in history and just half a second shy of the world indoor record (8:16.60).

Hirut Meshesha passed Chepkoech with three laps to go and took second place in 8:29.71 and Chepkoech finished third in a PB of 8:30.87.

“It’s a very fast time, but I know I was capable of breaking the world record,” said Tsegay. “My focus this year is on the Olympic Games, so I’m not sure if I’ll be competing at the World Indoor Championships, but I wanted to run here in Lievin because I have good memories on this track.”

Like Tsegay, Girma was also returning to a track upon which he’d broken a world indoor record. The steeplechase specialist had his sights set on Kenenisa Bekele’s world indoor 2000m best of 4:49.99, but he never quite got on top of the required pace.

He went through 500m in 1:12.71 and reached halfway in 2:25.59. He almost matched the front of the wavelight pacing with two laps to go, but then faded again towards the end. Nevertheless, he finished a comfortable winner in 4:51.23, the second-fastest clocking in history. Sweden’s Samuel Pihlstrom was second in 5:00.01.

Three-time world 110m hurdles champion Grant Holloway extended his 10-year winning streak in the 60m hurdles.

Grant Holloway wins in Lievin

Grant Holloway wins in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)

After winning his heat in 7.39, the world indoor record-holder was markedly quicker in the final, equalling his own meeting record with a world-leading 7.32. It was also his 20th sub-7.40 clocking; no other man in history has reached double figures.

France’s Just Kwaou-Mathey set a big PB of 7.43 for the runner-up spot, 0.05 ahead of Poland’s Jakub Szymanski.

World leads for Bol, Fabbri and Crestan

Along with the winning performances of Tsegay, Girma and Holloway, several other world-leading marks were set in Lievin.

World 400m hurdles champion Femke Bol notched up yet another sub-50-second clocking to win the 400m in a meeting record of 49.63, smashing her own meeting record from last year. Training partner Lieke Klaver was second in 50.50.

Femke Bol wins in Lievin

Femke Bol wins in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)

World silver medallist Leonardo Fabbri blasted hit shot put out to an Italian indoor record of 22.37m, setting a world-leading mark and smashing the meeting record in the process. Two-time world indoor champion Tom Walsh had taken an early lead with an opening throw of 22.16m, but Fabbri responded with his winning mark in round two.

Belgium's Eliott Crestan continued his fine form to win the men’s 800m in a world-leading 1:45.10. In a competitive race, world indoor champion Mariano Garcia was second in a season’s best of 1:45.50 and France’s Benjamin Robert was third in 1:45.70.

Earlier in the evening, Morocco’s Mohamed Ali Gouaned had won the ‘B’ race in a big PB of 1:45.35.

New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney produced a highly encouraging return to form to win the women’s pole vault with a world-leading 4.84m, also breaking her own national indoor record.

Britain’s Molly Caudery and Finland’s Wilma Murto led up to and including 4.75m with clean cards, while McCartney had got over each of her heights on her second tries. But with the bar at 4.84m, McCartney got over it on her first attempt and was the only athlete to clear it.

There was also a world lead in the men’s 200m from world silver medallist Erriyon Knighton, who was making his indoor debut.

The 20-year-old trailed France’s Ryan Zeze coming off the first bend, but he made up ground in the second half and powered through to win in 20.21 – the fastest debut indoor 200m in history.

Hailu and Barega win again

On a good night for Ethiopian middle-distance runners, Freweyni Hailu followed up her world-leading win in Torun four days ago with a 1500m victory tonight in Lievin.

Once the pacemaker had done their job, leading the field through 800m in 2:06.40, rising Ethiopian star Birke Haylom led for a couple of laps, going through 1000m in 2:39.75. World road mile champion Diribe Welteji then took up the running but not for long, as Hailu kicked past her with a lap to go and held on until the line, winning in 3:57.24.

Welteji was a close second in 3:57.48, Haylom took third in 4:00.00 and Habitam Alemu made it an Ethiopian 1-2-3-4, clocking 4:00.97. In fifth, Sarah Healy set an Irish record of 4:03.83.

Like Hailu, Barega was racing again just four days after clocking a world-leading mark in Torun.

The Olympic 10,000m champion had compatriots Getnet Wale and rising talent Biniam Mehary for company in the closing stages, but Barega showed his class and finishing strength on the final laps to sprint to victory in 7:31.38.

Mehary took second place in 7:33.04, putting him third on the world U20 indoor all-time list, while Wale was exactly two seconds further back in third place.

In other middle-distance events, Azeddine Habz won the men’s 1500m in a French indoor record of 3:34.39, finishing just 0.05 ahead of Kenya’s Vincent Keter. Britain’s Jemma Reekie was a clear winner of the women’s 800m, clocking 2:00.40.

Elsewhere, outdoor world record-holder Tobi Amusan won the women’s 60m hurdles in 7.83, world champion Hugues Fabrice Zango won a close triple jump contest by three centimetres with 17.21m, and Sam Kendricks won the men’s pole vault with 5.76m.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics