© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated
There is a constant buzz in the global athletics community about how to save or grow the once-illustrious sport. A pathway must be just up ahead, as there continues to be pockets where fans show up and truly enjoy the sport. Oslo, Norway is a perfect example. The Diamond League needs to continue to refine its program to work for the common sports fan. The time is now for World Athletics, the Diamond League, and some larger marathons (where spectators cheer as they do in New York, London, and Boston) to raise the fan experience.
The athletes are doing their part, especially Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Faith Kipyegon.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway, at age 22, is having yet another outstanding season. The latest performance of note was his national and European record run in the 1500-metre event at the Bisslett Games in Oslo, Norway. He was at home, at one of the historic venues in the sport and he seems as fit as he has any time in his so-far short but amazing career.
Ingebrigtsen was leading Spain’s Mohamed Katir for much of the race, biding his time behind pacers. The field was waiting for Ingebrigtsen to break them, the question was not if, but when. They found their answer with 150m to go, he dropped the pace and separated himself from Katir clocking a 3:27.95 performance to lift the spectators out of their seats.
Eight, who were desperately hoping to benefit from the fast field, ran quicker than 3:30. Taking third was American Yared Nuguse in a new personal best and North American record of 3:29.02. It was one of the all-time greatest non-championship 1500m races.
Only five men in history have run faster than Ingebrigtsen in the event. Morocco’s Hichem El Gerrouj has run faster nine times and holds the current world record at 3:26.00 from his Rome Diamond League performance from 1998. Only Bernard Lagat, Asbel Kiprop, Silas Kiplagat, and Noureddine Morceli have run faster than Ingebrigtsen. All of them are retired.
On June 9 at Stade Charléty, in Paris, Ingebrigtsen took down a world record of sorts. The two-mile race is not included in the World Athletics record books, but the performance is considered a world best. Along the way, he did set a European record in the 3000m event, which is indeed a “record.” He ran 7:24.00 over 3000m and 7:54.10 over two miles or 3218m. In so doing, he took down Daniel Komen’s once-thought-impossible world best.
The Kenyan achieved the 7:58.61 two-mile record performance in Hechtel, Belgium in 1997.
There was a foreshadowing of the upcoming records as the Norwegian Olympic 1500m gold medallist ran an indoor 3000m national record of 7:40.32 at Ataköy Arena, in Istanbul in March. Then, leading up to the two-mile world record attempt, Ingebrigtsen confidently declared the attempt leading up. There is more to come from this athlete and the World Championships in August in Budapest should produce fireworks.
Faith Kipyegon is also breaking once-thought-impossible, or very unlikely records. In Florence, Italy, the 29-year-old Kenyan bettered Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba’s world record of 3:50.07 by clocking a 3:49.11 performance. She is the first ever to break the 3:50 barrier. The fans in the Stadio Luigi Ridolfi at the Golden Gala were on their feet encouraging Kipyegon and she unleashed a stunning final lap, clocking a 60.63 final 400m. The record was so exciting that her fellow athletes vociferously celebrated along with her.
WORLD RECORD— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) June 9, 2023
Exactly one week after breaking the 1500m world record, 🇰🇪's Faith Kipyegon runs the fastest 5000m in history with 14:05.20 😳
60 second final lap
📸 @DanVernonPhoto and Marta Gorczyńska for Diamond League AG
*Subject to the usual ratification procedures pic.twitter.com/f3Qh2bS5FL
One week later, Kipyegon took down Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey’s 5000m world record which stood at 14:06.62, and defeated her in the race. Kipyegon recorded a 14:05.20 performance and unleashed a holy reckoning over the final two laps, to leave Gidey in her wake with little consolation other than running her second-fastest performance of all time. Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye placed third with a seasonal best of 14:13.31.
Kipyegon is the two-time defending 1500m Olympic and World Championships gold medallist.
There is talk of Kipyegon going after longer distance records like the 10,000m, half-marathon, and the marathon.
She feels it is time. Her intention is to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Eliud Kipchoge, who she hopes to emulate in the marathon, by taking the world record.
“As my career progresses, I will continue to look up to Eliud because he is the greatest marathoner of all time. That is something I hope to do in the future.”
“I aspire to grow as a person and an athlete like him, as well as to be the greatest marathoner of all time,” she added.