Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Winfred Yavi, Rai Benjamin and Yulimar Rojas were among the athletes to produce fireworks at Hayward Field on Saturday (16), ensuring that the Wanda Diamond League Final weekend got off to a suitably exciting start.
As is tradition at the Prefontaine Classic, the Bowerman Mile was held in lieu of the men’s 1500m on the first of the two days of finals in Eugene, and Ingebrigtsen made history once again, running 3:43.73 for a mark just 0.6 of a second off the world record.
There had been some friendly banter between Norway’s Ingebrigtsen and USA’s Yared Nuguse at the pre-event press conference, held on the eve of a race in which they both hoped to go faster than they ever had before. With Nuguse targeting the US record of 3:46.91, Ingebrigtsen had said: “Just stick to me as long as you can, and we’ll get you sub-3:46.”
And so it proved. With Ingebrigtsen hot on the heels of the pacemakers, Nuguse was right there with him. As they left the rest of the field behind, Ingebrigtsen’s win never looked in doubt, but all eyes were on the clock to see what the pair had managed to achieve. Ingebrigtsen led through 1200m in 2:47.73 and eventually crossed the finish line in 3:43.73 for a European record and the third-fastest time in history behind only Hicham El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:43.13 and Noah Ngeny’s 3:43.40.
He led a whole host of fast times, with Nuguse achieving his aim by setting a North American record of 3:43.97 in second place. Britain’s George Mills was third in an almost two-second PB of 3:47.65, while Mario Garcia was fourth in a Spanish record of 3:47.69 and Kenya’s Reynold Cheruiyot was fifth in a world U20 record of 3:48.06. In total, 11 of the 13 athletes set PBs.
And Ingebrigtsen’s work is not done, either, as he returns to run the 3000m on Sunday.
“Obviously, I was here to run the mile,” said Ingebrigtsen, whose performance on Saturday followed the world two-mile best he set in Paris and the world 2000m record he achieved in Brussels earlier in the Diamond League season. “I’m jumping in the 3000m because I got the opportunity. But now it’s all about getting back to the hotel, eat, sleep, try to prepare as good as I can and we’ll see tomorrow.”
Take one recently crowned world champion, one world record-holder and a pacemaker who happens to be the Olympic champion and you have the recipe for a fast and furious women’s 3000m steeplechase final.
In a battle that came down to the final straight, Bahrain’s Yavi and Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech pushed each other to the second and third-fastest performances of all time behind only Chepkoech’s world record of 8:44.32 set in Monaco in 2018.
In the end it was Yavi who again got the better of her Kenyan rival, clocking 8:50.66 ahead of Chepkoech’s 8:51.67 to add a first Diamond League title to the world gold she gained in Budapest.
In a repeat of that World Championships podium, Kenya’s Faith Cherotich was third in a PB of 8:59.65, as the 19-year-old dipped under nine minutes for the first time. Her compatriot Jackline Chepkoech, the 2021 world U20 champion, finished fourth in 9:01.18.
Undertaking pacemaking duties, Uganda’s Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai took the field through the 1000m mark in 2:55.82 and Cherotich was to the fore at 2000m in 5:58.82. As Yavi and Chepkoech made a break, they were left to fight for the title, with Yavi getting the edge in the closing stages.
There was also a duo breakaway in the men’s event but the win by Kenya’s 2021 world U20 bronze medallist Simon Kiprop Koech ended up being much more decisive. He triumphed in 8:06.26, four seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s world U20 silver medallist Samuel Firewu, who clocked 8:10.74. New Zealand’s George Beamish was third in 8:14.01 and Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale fourth in 8:14.96.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon closed an incredible track season by running the fifth-fastest 1500m of all time. Contesting a discipline in which she set a world record of 3:49.11 in Florence – before she went on to also break world records in the 5000m and the mile – the multiple Olympic and world champion dominated again, breaking the tape in 3:50.72 to win by more than three seconds.
Kipyegon was always to the fore, and she followed closely as the pacemaker went through 800m in 2:05.26. Pushing on, she passed 1200m in 3:06.07 before finishing strongly in the second-quickest time of her career.
Ethiopia’s world silver medallist Diribe Welteji took more than a second off her PB to claim the runner up spot in 3:53.93, while Britain’s Olympic silver medallist Laura Muir was third in 3:55.16. They were followed by Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu in a PB of 3:55.68 and Australia’s Linden Hall in an Oceanian record of 3:56.92.
While her track season might now be complete, Kipyegon isn’t done for the year and she will now turn her attention to the World Athletics Road Running Championships Riga 23, where she will contest her first ever road race – in the mile – on 1 October.
“I didn’t watch the clock, I was just running my race to see what will happen at the finish line,” she said. “So it was amazing, to run a meeting record is just fantastic. Starting with the world record and now winning the trophy, it has been a fantastic year for me and I really thank god for that.”
Boost for Benjamin
Rai Benjamin had earlier kicked off the track action in sensational style, delighting the home crowd with a storming finish to take the men’s 400m hurdles title ahead of Norway’s three-time world champion Karsten Warholm.
Warholm led off the final bend but a determined Benjamin wasn’t defeated and he surged past his rival to win the first Diamond League crown of his career in a Diamond League record of 46.39 to Warholm’s 46.53. That’s the second-fastest time that Benjamin has ever run, behind the 46.17 he ran to claim Olympic silver behind Warholm in Tokyo – a mark that puts him second on the world all-time list behind the world record of 45.94 that Warholm set to win that race.
It was a second defeat in two races for Warholm, who claimed his third world title in Budapest, after he also settled for second behind British Virgin Islands’ world silver medallist Kyron McMaster at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich.
McMaster placed third in the final in Eugene, running 47.31, while Brazil’s Alison dos Santos, who won the world title at Hayward Field last year, finished fourth in 47.44.
“I came out here with no expectation, just to have fun and close out the season,” said Benjamin. On his rivalry with Warholm, he added: “It’s definitely is a good rivalry. I’m not really too caught up in this win. What matters is winning at major championships, and I haven’t done that yet, so I need to do that.”
The women’s 100m featured unprecedented depth as Shericka Jackson won the first of what she hopes will be two Diamond League titles this weekend, clocking 10.70 (0.8m/s) as the top four all ran 10.80 or faster.
The two-time world 200m champion is also set to defend her half-lap title in Eugene and she warmed up for that with her 100m win, pipping Cote d’Ivoire’s multiple global medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou by 0.05. Jamaica’s five-time Olympic gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah was third in 10.79 and USA’s world 100m champion Sha’Carri Richardson was fourth in 10.80.
The men’s 100m title was claimed by USA’s 2019 world champion Christian Coleman, who equalled the world lead he already shared with Noah Lyles and Zharnel Hughes by running 9.83.
Lyles, who won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the World Championships in Budapest, was second and African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala was third as they both ran 9.85.
Kirani James won his first Diamond League title back in 2011. The 2012 Olympic champion now has four Diamond trophies to his name after he won the 400m in Eugene in a season’s best of 44.30 to pip a tiring Quincy Hall. World bronze medallist Hall held on for second in 44.44, finishing one place ahead of his US compatriot Vernon Norwood, who ran 44.61.
In the women’s triple jump, Venezuelan star Yulimar Rojas again got off to a shaky start but as she did at the World Championships in Budapest, she pulled it back in fantastic fashion to win her third Diamond League title with a leap just 32cm off her own world record.
The Olympic and four-time world gold medallist opened with two fouls and then recorded 14.53m in the third round. Her fourth attempt looked big but after a nervous wait, it was judged to be another foul. But her fifth jump – that came up as a valid attempt straight away, and she did a dance, knowing it was good. It was very good, her 15.35m (1.2m/s) being among the top 10 performances of all time.
Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts also had a superb performance of her own, leaping 15.00m in the fifth round and then 15.03m in the sixth to improve her PB by 2cm. Her compatriot Kimberly Williams was third with 14.61m.
Another athlete in fine form is USA’s Chase Ealey. The two-time world champion already had great memories of competing at Hayward Field and she now has another, as she twice improved her PB and ended the competition with the US record, thanks to the world-leading 20.76m she managed in the third round.
Canada’s Sarah Mitton also got close to the 20 metre mark, throwing 19.94m for second place, while Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo threw 19.92m for third.
Korea’s Woo Sanghyeok equalled his outdoor national record by clearing 2.35m on his third and final attempt to clinch the men’s high jump title and end his season on a high.
The world indoor champion had a perfect score card up to his winning height, entering the competition at 2.15m and clearing that, and the next four bars up to 2.33m, on his first attempts. Poland’s Norbert Kobielski also managed that height on his first go to add 4cm to his lifetime best, while USA’s world silver medallist JuVaughn Harrison got great cheers as he soared clear on his third go.
As the bar moved to 2.35m, only Woo made it over to win his maiden Diamond League title.
In the women’s pole vault, USA’s Katie Moon added the Diamond trophy to her Olympic and world crowns as she soared clear at 4.86m to win a jump off and deny Slovenia’s world indoor bronze medallist Tina Sutej, who improved her outdoor PB to 4.81m to finish second. USA’s two-time world indoor champion Sandi Morris was third with 4.71m.
“The Diamond League trophy is one that evaded me for a while, so this was top of my list to win and I’m just so ecstatic that I could do it in Eugene,” said Moon, who added a centimetre to the meeting record.
As it turned out, Czechia’s multiple world and Olympic medallist Jakub Vadlejc had the men’s javelin won with his first throw, but he improved again with his last to secure his third Diamond trophy and his first since 2017.
His opening effort was 84.01m and his last was 84.24m. In a series that included three fouls, he also recorded 82.58m from his fifth attempt. India’s Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra, who won world gold in Budapest in a competition in which Vadlejc bagged bronze, was second this time with 83.80m. Finland’s Oliver Helander was third with 83.74m.
Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi was the first Diamond League champion to be crowned in Eugene. The world gold medallist, who clinched the title in Budapest with a dramatic final round flourish, this time threw her best in the second round. Opening with 59.36m, she improved to 63.78m and that remained the best of the competition as she maintained a win streak that dates back to the Lausanne Diamond League in June, where she was beaten by Australia’s Mackenzie Little.
World bronze medallist Little threw 61.24m in the first round, a performance that placed her third as New Zealand’s Tori Peeters surpassed that mark by 6cm to secure the runner-up spot.
A short while later, Diamond League champion Andy Diaz of Italy successfully defended his title in the triple jump with a 17.43m (0.1m/s) leap in the first round. He followed that with 17.00m and went on to pass his next two attempts before soaring beyond 17 metres twice more – 17.27m in the fifth round and 17.02m in the sixth.
Burkina Faso’s world champion Hugues Fabrice Zango fought back in the fifth round, jumping 17.25m, while USA’s Donald Scott was third with 16.84m.
The action in Eugene continues on Sunday, when another 17 Diamond League titles are up for grabs.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics