Sifan Hassan and her world record numbers at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco (© Philippe Fitte)
Sifan Hassan, who arrived on the Stade Louis II track tonight (12) as the third fastest miler of all time, departed the Herculis EBS Diamond League meeting as the fastest, having produced a marvel of a final lap to finish in 4:12.33, thus breaking the 23-year-old mark of 4:12.56 held by Russia’s 1996 Olympic 800m and 1500m champion Svetlana Masterkova.
Hassan had said on the day before the race that she intended to run “three or four seconds” faster than her best of 4:14.71, set in London in 2017.
As things turned out, she failed in that ambition; not that she looked too put out about it after the race as she lay on her back with a radiant smile on her face.
After the field had been paced through 800m in 2:08.20, Hassan moved into the lead with 600 metres remaining, with Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay the only runner in touch at that stage.
Hassan, who had broken the 5km road race world record in the Principality in February, simply cut loose over the final lap and was suitably rewarded for her enterprise by the digital clock.
In her wake the effort of chasing told on Tsegay, who faded to fourth in a season’s best of 4:18.31 as Britain’s Laura Weightman came through to finish second in a personal best of 4:17.60 and Gabriela Debues-Stafford of Canada took third place with a national record of 4:17.87.
“I knew I could run fast but the first 800 was a bit slow, so after that I wasn’t thinking it would be a world record,” Hassan, the European 5000m champion, said. “When I crossed the line I was so surprised.
“After you run a last 400 like that, and set a world record, it gives me so much confidence over 5000m. The way I finished the last 400 there, it’s amazing!”
Hassan said she had been lifted by the crowd in the closing stages of the race. “That made me extra happy,” she said. “It was a beautiful last lap with the crowd supporting me.”
Her next race, she said, would be a 5000m. “I don’t know where yet. The one world record I would love would be the 5000m.”
Before the start of the women’s mile, re-named the Brave Like Gabe Mile, a short film clip was shown featuring the US runner Gabe Grunewald who fought cancer for so long before succumbing earlier this year, and the crowd showed their respect and appreciation.
Two other Monaco world record breakers – Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, who set the current 1500m world record of 3:50.07 on this track four years ago, and Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, who set the world 3000m steeplechase mark here last year – had been due to race but had pulled out.
Whether their presence would have also have produced a world record race remains an open – and, now, irrelevant – question.
Amos blazes sub-1:42
Nijel Amos produced the fastest 800m since the London 2012 Olympic final – where David Rudisha set the current world record of 1:40.91 and he himself won silver in a personal best of 1:41.73.
That meant that his winning time here of 1:41.89 was not even a personal best, despite being the 15th fastest time ever.
It was an electric effort from the runner from Botswana, who, incredibly, is still only 25. He drove on as the second of the two pacemakers moved aside after taking the field through 400m in 48.70.
As he neared the line, he was chased home by the taller figure of Kenya’s Ferguson Rotich, who was rewarded for his persistence with a personal best of 1:42.54.
Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina was third in a season’s best of 1:43.62.
“I did an impossible session on Tuesday and after that I knew I could run 1:41,” Amos said. “The world record is not in my mind but if I’m patient it will come.”
Miller-Uibo takes titanic 200m showdown
Shaunae Miller-Uibo, her silvered locks newly dyed to pink, produced a mighty performance to win the women’s 200m against a mightily talented field, coming home in a season’s best of 22.09.
Trailing in her wake were runners of the highest quality. Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson was second in 22.44, with two-time world 200m champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands third in 22.45.
“The quicker I get at 200, the quicker I’ll be at 400, and I’m very happy with where I’m at right now," said Miller-Uibo. "If they can change the timetable for the Olympics, I‘d be more than happy to double.”
Sydney McLaughlin, with a poise that belied her 19 years, achieved an overwhelming victory in the women’s 400m hurdles, leading from the first set of barriers and coming home imperiously in a world-leading 53.32.
Five metres behind her, a wave of world-class runners came home in a separate race, with Olympic bronze medallist Ashley Spencer taking second place in 54.46, followed by the Czech Republic's two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova, who clocked 54.55.
Switzerland’s European champion Lea Sprunger was sixth in 55.60; world champion Kori Carter of the United States was seventh in 55.63.
Cheruiyot impresses again
As expected, Timothy Cheruiyot won the men’s 1500m, which was not a scoring race in the Diamond League, but was a phenomenal race in anybody’s estimation.
After the pacers had dropped away, Kenya’s world silver medallist, who had won the previous week’s race in Lausanne in a world-leading 3:28.77, led the field through 800 metres in 1:51.3 – a couple of seconds slower than the split in Switzerland – and pushed on.
But as the field came to the bell it was Norway’s 18-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen who threw down the gauntlet and led through. Halfway down the backstraight, however, the lean and hungry Kenyan pushed back into the lead and while the young Norwegian never slackened in his challenge, he had to give best on this occasion.
On a track where he set his personal best of 3:28.41 last season, Cheruyiot won in 3:29.97, with Ingebrigtsen second in 3:30.47 and Uganda’s Ronald Musagala third in a national record of 3:30.58.
Britain’s Charlie Grice also had a night to remember as he clocked a personal best of 3:30.62, a reward for his own bold challenge over the final lap, while back in sixth place Kenya’s 18-year-old George Manangoi, younger brother of world champion Elijah, set a personal best of 3:31.49 – earning a hug from the winner, with whom he and his brother train.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF