Uganda’s 23-year-old Joshua Cheptegei, world 10,000 metres champion and world cross country champion last year, added another indelible achievement to his CV in Monaco tonight as he marked the opening Wanda Diamond League meeting of the season with a world 5,000m record of 12min 35.36sec.
That took almost two seconds off the time of 12:37.35 that has stood since 2004 to Etihiopia’s multiple world and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele.
It was the high point of a stupendous night of action in the Stade Louis II, a virtual solo run, with the nearest challenger being Nicholas Kimeli of Kenya, who clocked a personal best of 12:51.78 on a newly-laid track that replaced one which had produced legions of middle and longer distance flourishes down the years.
That tradition looks like being upheld in years to come.
Cheptegei, an ebullient and highly intelligent character, had spent lockdown training quietly back home, but when he arrived in the Principality he was happy to announce that he had the world record in mind.
“I think Monaco is a special place,” Cheptegei said.
“It took a lot of mind setting to keep being motivated this year.
“I pushed myself, I had the right staff with me, the right coach.
“I’m usually based in Europe, but being based in Uganda with my family was actually great.”
Earlier in what turned out to be an epic programme, Kenya’s world 1500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot had won an almighty struggle with Norway’s 19-year-old European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, edging clear by 0.23 seconds in 3:28.45.
That was just short of Cheruiyot’s best of 3:28.41, set in the same stadium two years ago, which established him seventh on the all-time list.
Ingebrigtsen – finishing clear of Britain’s Jake Wightman, who clocked a personal best of 3:29.47 – was rewarded with a European record of 3:28.68 that shifted him into eighth place on that all-time list -– massive consolation for failing to complete what would have been an outstanding Norwegian double on the night.
Earlier in the evening Norway’s double world 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm, who set a world 300m hurdles best on home territory at the Impossible Games in June, produced another bravura display as he won in a super-fast 47.10sec.
That was close to his personal best of 46.92, the second fastest ever recorded, and more than enough to hold off the challenge of Turkey’s Yasmani Copello, who clocked 49.04 in second place.
Warholm, who opened up a two-second lead with a stupendous late burst over the final two hurdles – unusual for his normal eyeballs-out racing plan – had Kevin Young’s 1992 Olympics world record of 46.78 in mind, but ended up with a 2020 world best and meeting record.
It was his second best performance of all time and his seventh sub 47.50 – a total only the great 1976 and 1984 Olympic champion Ed Moses of the United States has bettered.
Kenya’s world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri produced a winning time of 14:22.12, the fastest run in the world this year and a meeting record.
Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey, the world 10,000m silver medallist, was second in 14:26.27, with third place going to Britain’s Laura Weightman with a huge personal best of 14:35.44 that moved her to second on the UK all-time list.
Fourth place went to Australia’s Jessica Hull in a national record of 14:43.80, while Obiri’s compatriot Beatrice Chepkoech, the world 3,000m steeplechase world champion and world record holder was sixth.
The penultimate event, the women’s 1000m, produced another record-breaking performance with Kenya’s Rio 2016 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon setting a new African record of 2:29.15, ahead of Britain’s Laura Muir, who set a national record of 2:30.82.
That race had been preceded by a men’s 200m won in a 2020 world-leading time of 19.76 by US world champion Noah Lyles.
The 110m hurdles had got the meeting off to an electric start – a race in which the world champion, Grant Holloway of the United States, could only manage fourth place, in 13.19.
Victory went to Spain’s Rio 2016 silver medallist Orlando Ortega in 13.11 – displacing the man who finished second, Andy Pozzi – at the top of this year’s world list.
But the Briton, who ran 13.17 in Turku on Tuesday (August 11), could feel well pleased with his outing as he clocked a personal best of 13.14, with France’s Wilhem Belocian third in 13.18.
The men’s 800m went, as expected, to the US world champion Donavan Brazier, in 1:43.15, bettering his own 2020 world lead of 1:43.84.
All five runners behind Brazier ran personal bests, with fellow American Bryce Hoppel in 1:43.23 and Marco Arop of Canada third in 1:44.14.
In the women’s high jump, Ukraine’s 18-year-old world silver medallist from last year, Yaroslava Mahuchikh, cleared 1.98m to win on countback from her 22-year-old compatriot Yuliya Levchenko, the 2017 world silver medallist.
All the athletes were tested before the meeting for Covid-19 – a process which led to the world and Olympic 3,000m steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto having to remain in Kenya after a positive result.
In his absence, the concluding steeplechase went to Morocco’s world bronze and silver medallist Soufiane El Bakkali in a 2020 world-lead of 8:08.04.
Because the normal call room is too small for social-distancing guidelines, the athletes had gathered instead on the stadium’s infield before their events.
The Herculis meeting in Monaco usually features a capacity crowd of 16,000 but this was reduced to the maximum authorised number of 5,000 this year as part of the health and safety protocols in during the coronavirus pandemic.
Masks were obligatory for spectators in the Stade Louis II, hydro-alcoholic gel was widely available and in the grandstand every other row and every other seat was left free in order to ensure suitable social distancing. (Insidethegames)