Faith Kipyegon wins the 1500m at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco (© Chiara Montesano)
In the hours before the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco began, thunder rolled across the Cote d’Azur. But it was left to two of the fastest women in the world – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Faith Kipyegon – to provide the lightning on Wednesday (10).
World 100m champion Fraser-Pryce is affectionately known as Mommy Rocket, and Kipyegon has adopted the logo Mother Stronger. They both make a mockery of the theories of a previous age that mothers could not be great athletes.
Tonight Olympic and world champion Kipyegon broke every 1500m record in the book, except the one she most desired, as she flew around the track in a different race from the rest of the field.
The diminutive Kenyan tracked the pacemakers through the first 900m, by which time she had left the other competitors far in her wake. For the last 600m she had only the pacing lights for company and knew she was within touching distance of Genzebe Dibaba’s 2015 world record of 3:50.07.
When Kipyegon crossed the finish line, she had broken the Kenyan record, the meeting record and her personal best, but had fallen an agonising 0.3 short of the world mark. She remains the second-fastest in history but is getting closer to No.1 with every attempt.
“I have been chasing the time for quite some time but I am happy with the personal best,” she said.
“I knew this was the best place to get the world record so I am disappointed I lost it in the last metres.”
The world record is the only honour to elude Kipyegon, who has won both the Olympic and world 1500m titles after returning from the birth of her first child in 2019.
Second-placed Heather MacLean was more than eight seconds behind but still under four minutes (3:58.89), as was her US compatriot Elise Cranny in third (3:59.06).
World 100m champion Fraser-Pryce continued to defy the aging process, setting a world-leading 10.62 to win by a full metre from world 200m champion Shericka Jackson, who set a personal best of 10.71 as she tried to keep pace with her compatriot.
With this performance, Fraser-Pryce became the first woman to break 10.7 six times in one season.
“To be able to run 10.6 consistently means a lot to me,” she said.
“It’s remarkable. It is very hard to keep the speed on this high level. I’m in my late thirties and I think I feel like I have more to give. I look forward to doing my personal best (10.60) for the rest of the season.”
Fraser-Pryce also inspired an African record from Marie-Jose Ta Lou (10.72) in third place and an equal personal best of 10.81 from Aleia Hobbs in fourth.
The world champions also collided in the men’s 200m, where Noah Lyles prevailed over 400m specialist Michael Norman at his specialist distance in 19.45, but could not quite reproduce his breath-taking speed in Oregon (19.31).
Lyles, who broke his own meeting record by 0.2, described his run as “kind of wobbly” and said he hoped to improve at his next start in Lausanne.
Exciting teenager Erriyon Knighton (19.84) split the two world champions with Norman third (19.95).
In the third clash of the Oregon titans, 1500m winner Jake Wightman triumphed over 1000m in 2:13.88, to move to No.9 on the world all-time list over the rarely-raced distance. Canada’s world 800m bronze medallist Marco Arop was the only one to follow the world-record pace, with Wightman 20 metres behind him in no-man’s-land for much of the race. However, Wightman began to reel in the Canadian with 200 metres to go and passed him 10 metres before the finish line.
Wightman said this was a perfect tune-up for next week’s European Championships in Munich, where he will step down to the 800m and shapes as a serious threat on this evidence.
The women’s 800m saw Natoya Goule slip under 1:57 for the first time this season, clocking 1:56.98 to win from US duo Sage Hurta (1:57.84) and Olivia Baker (1:58.05).
World champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo also had it all her own way in the 400m (49.28) winning by more than half a second from Candice McLeod (49.87) and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sada Williams (50.10).
In the men’s 3000m, Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo produced the most surprising result of the day, overhauling last year’s Diamond League champion Berihu Aregawi in the home straight to win in a world-leading 7:25.93, a nine-second personal best, Diamond League record and national record. Aregawi (7:26.81) also set a personal best in second, as did Grant Fisher in third (7:28.48, a North American record).
Meanwhile, novice steeplechaser Werkuha Getachew continued to build her reputation after claiming the silver medal in Oregon last month, winning the women’s 3000m steeple in Monaco in 9:06.19, from fellow Ethiopian Zerfe Wondemagegn (a personal best of 9:06.63) and Elizabeth Bird in a British record of 9:07.87.
The Olympic and world champion and world record-holder Sydney McLaughlin was an interested face in the crowd rather than on the track for the women’s 400m hurdles, having withdrawn from the meeting last week. In her absence, Jamaica’s 2019 world bronze medallist Rushell Clayton took the win in a personal best of 53.33, from her compatriot Janieve Russell (53.52).
In the high hurdles, world 110m champion Grant Holloway dipped under 13 seconds for the first time this season, winning in 12.99. World silver medallist Trey Cunningham ran him close (13.03) as did Olympic champion Hansle Parchment (13.08).
Barshim wins a jump off
In contrast to his famous Olympic high jump victory, shared with Gianmarco Tamberi, after they declined to break their tie, Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim was forced to endure a jump-off to claim the win in Monaco.
At the end of the regular competition, world champion Barshim and world silver medallist Woo Sanghyeok had identical scorecards, both having maintained clean sheets to 2.32m, where both failed to clear the bar. A fourth attempt at that height also eluded them before Barshim made the only successful attempt at 2.30m to secure the victory.
World and Olympic triple jump champion Yulimar Rojas was also forced to work for the win after runway issues left her without a mark after three rounds. It wasn’t until the fifth round that Rojas finally found the take-off board and her one decent jump (15.01m) was enough to maintain her winning streak. World silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts led through most of the competition after a first-round leap of 14.91m and finished second, five centimetres ahead of USA’s Tori Franklin, as they reproduced the World Championships podium.
Cuba’s Maykel Masso took an early lead in the men’s long jump when he soared to a season’s best of 8.35m in the second round and despite the presence of two of the three men who trumped him for the medals in Oregon, neither of them could best him.
Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou responded in the third round with 8.31m, as did USA’s Marquis Dendy, but neither could improve their positions in the subsequent rounds. Tentoglou took second place on a countback from Dendy.
The women’s pole vault was also a tight affair with the top three women all clearing 4.66m. Commonwealth Games champion Nina Kennedy’s first-time clearance gave her a first-time Diamond League victory from world indoor champion Sandi Morris and 2016 Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi.
Kennedy was one of two Australian winners in the Stade Louis II as world javelin champion Kelsey-Lee Barber extended her hot streak.
In contrast to her usual final-round heroics, Barber set the standard early tonight, taking the lead with a first-round throw of 62.96m. The Commonwealth Games champion improved to 64.50m in the third round and that was enough to take the win from Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi (62.37m) and fellow Australian Mackenzie Little (61.76m).
Nicole Jeffery for World Athletics