Gudaf Tsegay on her way to setting a world indoor 1500m record in Lievin (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
On an evening of stunning middle-distance performances at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais, Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay produced the highlight by taking two seconds off the world indoor 1500m record*, winning at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in 3:53.09.
The world bronze medallist followed the swift early tempo as the pacemaker led the field through 400m (58.97) and exited just before 800m, which Tsegay passed in 2:05.94. With three laps to go, Tsegay had a four-second lead over double European indoor champion Laura Muir but she showed no signs of slowing down, passing through 1000m in 2:37.36.
The clock read 2:52.9 with two laps to go and Tsegay maintained her pace with another lap just outside 30 seconds. She dug in for the final circuit and crossed the line in 3:53.09, taking more than two seconds off the world indoor record set by compatriot Genzebe Dibaba in Karlsruhe in 2014.
Muir finished second in a British indoor record of 3:59.58 with teammate Melissa Courtney-Bryant taking third in 4:04.79.
“I’m very happy to set a world indoor record,” said Tsegay. “I have been training really hard and I set myself a target to break the world indoor record.”
Tsegay's record-breaking performance was book-ended by two other athletes who very nearly broke world records.
Ethiopian steeplechase specialist Getnet Wale won the men's 3000m in 7:24.98, the second-fastest indoor performance in history, while USA's Grant Holloway won the men's 60m hurdles in 7.32, just 0.02 shy of the world indoor record.
Wale, still only 20 years old, led an Ethiopian 1-2-3-4 finish in the men’s 3000m as Daniel Komen’s long-standing world record of 7:24.90 was put under serious threat. The pace was fast and even as Vincent Keter led the field through the opening 1000m in 2:31.05 with the second kilometre covered in 2:30.
World 5000m silver medallist Selemon Barega hit the front with three-and-a-half laps to go with fellow Ethiopians Wale and world steeplechase silver medallist Lamecha Girma close behind. Wale took a turn at the front with two laps to go, then Girma kicked hard with 300 metres to go. Having seemingly misjudged his finish, Girma eased off the gas slightly with one lap remaining, allowing Wale and Barega to pass him.
Girma tried to pick up the momentum again, but Wale was away and gone, charging ahead to the finish line in an Ethiopian indoor record of 7:24.98. Barega was second in 7:26.10 with Girma taking third in 7:27.98. Teenager Berihu Aregawi was fourth in 7:29.24.
Before today, just six men had bettered 7:30 for 3000m indoors. The indoor sub-7:30 club now has four more members – all aged between 19 and 21, two of whom are steeplechase specialists.
Holloway had hinted that the world indoor 60m hurdles record was living on borrowed time when he opened his 2021 campaign at the American Track League meeting in Fayetteville at the end of January.
The world 110m hurdles champion clocked 7.35 on that occasion, equalling his own North American indoor record. Tonight in Lievin, in what was his first indoor race in Europe, he was up against a stronger field and he duly rose to the occasion.
Following a comfortable-looking 7.38 victory in the heats, the 23-year-old powered his way over the five hurdles in the final to stop the clock at a North American indoor record of 7.32 – agonisingly close to Colin Jackson’s 7.30 world indoor record set back in 1994. Holloway, 23, now owns three of the six fastest times in history.
France’s Wilhem Belocian was second in 7.52, just 0.03 ahead of Italy’s Paolo Dal Molin. USA’s Aaron Mallett was fourth in 7.57.
Middle-distance meeting records for Ingebrigtsen and Hailu
Double European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen produced the most dominant track performance of the evening, winning the men’s 1500m by five seconds in a European indoor record of 3:31.80.
The 20-year-old positioned himself in between world indoor bronze medallist Bethwell Birgen and world indoor record-holder Samuel Tefera during the first half as the pacemaker covered 600m in 1:24.82.
The leaders continued to churn out metronomic sub-29-second laps as 800m was reached in 1:53.70 and 1000m in 2:22.35. With two laps to go, Ingebrigtsen was in the lead with Birgen doggedly trying to keep close to the young Norwegian, but Ingebrigtsen still had plenty of energy in reserve.
A 27-second final circuit brought Ingebrigtsen home in 3:31.80, moving him to fifth on the world indoor all-time list. World bronze medallist Marcin Lewandowski came through to take second place in 3:36.83 with Spanish duo Mohamed Katir and Ignacio Fontes clocking the same time of 3:36.89 in third and fourth respectively. Birgen faded to 10th, recording the same time as Tefera (3:39.27).
“I always want to run fast, but this was my first race of 2021 so you never really know,” said Ingebrigtsen, whose winning time broke Hicham el Guerrouj’s meeting record by 0.21. “I guess Hicham is slower than me! I’ve been training really well and today’s race felt easy. I’m always happy to race, but training is also really important.”
Lemlem Hailu seized her opportunity in the closing stages of the 3000m to leave behind a high-quality field and take victory in a world-leading 8:32.55, breaking a meeting record that was set two years before the Ethiopian was born.
After being paced through half way in 4:19, steeplechase world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech took up the running and started the gradually increase the pace. A lead pack of five – comprising Hailu, Chepkoech, world 1500m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan, Fantu Worku and Tsigie Gebreselama – broke away and exchanged the lead over the final few laps.
Hailu kicked hard and charged past Chepkoech as the bell sounded and soon opened up a significant gap on the rest of the field. Hassan gave chase and overtook Chepkoech to move into second, but there was no catching Hailu, who crossed the line in 8:32.55, breaking the meeting record of 8:34.09 set by Gabriella Szabo in 1999.
Hassan was second in 8:33.62 with Chepkoech placing third in 8:34.21.
Earlier in the evening, Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi set a world best in the rarely contested 2000m steeplechase.
The 21-year-old overtook Slovenia’s Marusa Mismas-Zrimsek, winner here last year in a world best time, with little more than a lap to go before going on to win by three seconds in 5:45.09. Mismas-Zrimsek was second in 5:48.71.
Elsewhere in the middle-distance events, Elliot Giles and Jemma Reekie secured a British double in the 800m.
Giles, who won in Karlsruhe at the end of last month, hit the front as he approached the final lap and pulled away from 2017 world champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, who soon started to fade. Giles went on to win in 1:45.49 as Kenya’s Cornelius Tuwei came through for second place in 1:46.88.
Reekie, last year’s world indoor leader for 800m, won in Lievin for the second year in succession. After a swift opening circuit of 27 seconds, the pace settled down and the field went through half way in 58.15. Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu led through 600m in 1:29.98, but Reekie kicked past in the closing stages and crossed the line in 2:00.64.
Alemu finished second in 2:00.86 with Hedda Hynne clocking a Norwegian indoor record of 2:00.92 in third. Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson, who set a world U20 indoor record of 1:59.03 last month, was fourth in 2:01.71.
Zango breaks meeting record, Echevarria sets world lead
Newly minted world indoor record-holder Hugues Fabrice Zango produced one of the farthest indoor leaps in history to win the men’s triple jump.
The world bronze medallist took a while to settle into the competition, though, and only landed his first valid leap in the fourth round, jumping 16.61m. His next effort was much better as the Burkinabe jumper sailed out to 17.82m – a mark that just three other men have ever bettered indoors.
His winning leap added 18 centimetres to the meeting record set by his coach, former world indoor record-holder Teddy Tamgho. France’s Melvin Raffin was a distant second with a best of 16.94m.
World indoor champion Juan Miguel Echevarria pulled out a world-leading mark in the final round of the long jump to snatch victory from European champion Miltiadis Tentoglou.
An 8.04m leap in round two gave Tentoglou the early lead, then the Greek jumper improved to 8.21m in round three. Echevarria jumped 7.98m moments later, but it was only good enough for third place behind Tentoglou and Sweden’s Thobias Montler, who had leaped 8.03m in round two.
But the Cuban saved his best for last, sailing out to a world-leading 8.25m to maintain his 2021 winning streak and his lead in the World Athletics Indoor Tour standings.
Having felt some slight discomfort in his hamstring during warm-up, world record-holder Mondo Duplantis did just enough to win the men’s pole vault. The 21-year-old Swede opened his competition at 5.60m and then cleared 5.86m on his first attempt, which was sufficient to win.
USA’s Chris Nelson also got over 5.86m and then failed at 5.92m. Renaud Lavillenie placed third with 5.80m.
Britain’s Holly Bradshaw won the women’s event with a first-time clearance at 4.73m. Olympic champion Ekaterini Stefanidi set a season’s best of 4.63m to take second place on countback from Iryna Zhuk of Belarus.
Dongmo secures first series title of 2021 World Athletics Indoor Tour
Auriol Dongmo wrapped up the women’s shot put title in the World Athletics Indoor Tour, following up her Karlsruhe win with victory in Lievin.
After 2015 world champion Christina Schwanitz and USA’s Raven Saunders exchanged leads in the first two rounds with 18.59m and 18.66m respectively, Dongmo found her groove in the third round and sent her shot out to 19.18m. The Portuguese record-holder didn’t improve upon that mark, but she followed it with 19.15m in round four and 18.97m in round six to secure her victory. Schwanitz improved to 18.93m in the final round but once again couldn’t catch the world leader.
“I'm really satisfied,” said Dongmo. “It's always good to throw 19 metres and I'm really happy to be qualified for the World Indoor Championships. I feel really strong at the moment, but I need to work on my technique.”
Elsewhere, USA’s Javianne Oliver equalled her season’s best to win the women’s 60m. The world indoor semi-finalist won convincingly in 7.10 to finish 0.07 ahead of Brazil’s Rosangela Santos. Switzerland’s Ajla del Ponte was third in 7.21.
“I’m glad I executed my race beginning to end the way I wanted to,” said Oliver. “I ran the same time as last weekend, so I’m happy with it.”
After two false starts in the men’s 60m, Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs held his nerve to win in 6.54, equalling the PB he set in the heats. USA’s Mike Rodgers took second place in 6.60, just 0.01 ahead of Ivorian Arthur Cisse.
The women’s 60m hurdles was the closest event of the night as Nadine Visser, Nooralotta Neziri and Christina Clemons crossed the line in unison, all timed at 7.91. European indoor champion Visser was awarded the victory in the photo finish with Clemons taking second place and Neziri placing third.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics
*Pending the usual ratification procedure