British middle-distance runner Jemma Reekie (© Hasse Sjogren)
Middle-distance runners Abel Kipsang, Jemma Reekie and Collins Kipruto were among the athletes to break a meeting record at the Meeting de Marseille – a World Athletics Continental Tour Bronze competition – in the south of France on Wednesday (9).
Kipsang had opened his 2021 campaign with a string of victories in Kenya, then earlier this month clocked a 1500m PB of 3:33.99 in Montreuil. After a runner-up finish in Hengelo last weekend, the 24-year-old Kenyan returned to winning ways in France.
The pacemaker brought the field through 800m in 1:52.95 with Kipsang sitting in fourth place. He moved into the lead about 250 metres later, while 800m specialist Elliot Giles navigated his way through the field into fourth place.
Giles moved into second place with 200 metres to go, but Kipsang then moved up a gear and sprinted away from his opponents, going on to win by about 10 metres in a lifetime best of 3:32.68, taking almost two seconds off the meeting record.
Giles was rewarded with a PB of 3:33.80 with Spain’s Ignacio Fontes just 0.04 behind. The top nine athletes all finished inside the Olympic qualifying standard of 3:35.00.
Kipsang’s compatriot Collins Kipruto employed a similarly impressive finishing kick to win the men’s 800m.
After the first lap was covered in a swift 49.95, it looked as though European indoor champion Patryk Dobek was on his way to victory. But coming off the final bend, Kipruto moved from third to first and stopped the clock at 1:43.95, taking almost half a second off his PB.
France’s Benjamin Robert came through to take second, clocking a PB of 1:44.53, while Dobek wound up third in 1:44.80.
Reekie produced arguably the most dominant performance of the meeting. The double European U23 champion sprinted away from the field on the second lap of the women’s 800m to win in 1:58.41, the second-fastest outdoor performance of her career to date and a two-second improvement on the previous meeting record held by her training partner, European 1500m champion Laura Muir. Germany’s Christina Hering was second in 2:00.15.
Two other meeting records fell in the sprints.
Following her 11.04 PB in Hengelo last weekend, Britain’s world and Olympic 4x100m medallist Daryll Neita proved her breakthrough wasn’t a one-off, winning the 100m in Marseille in 11.08. The -1.6m/s headwind suggests Neita is just a race or two away from breaking the 11-second barrier. World 200m finalist Gina Bass of The Gambia was second in 11.21.
Poland’s in-form Natalia Kaczmarek won the women’s 400m in a meeting record of 51.16, beating Laviai Nielsen (51.42) and Floria Guei (51.57).
Elsewhere, Slovenia’s Neja Filipic bounded out to a PB of 14.31m to win the women’s triple jump, and recent European Team Championships winner Asier Martinez of Spain won the 110m hurdles in 13.36 (-1.0m/s), just 0.02 shy of his recent PB.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics