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Posted: July 1, 2023:  

(RRW) Athletics: After Meeting Record In Lausanne, Ingebrigtsen Remains Undefeated in 2023

From David Monti, @d9monti
© 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved.

NOTE: This story was written remotely. At the moment the story was finished Keira D'Amato had set a pending USA half-marathon record in Gold Coast, Australia: 1:06:37 (unofficial) --Ed.

(30-Jun) -- With the year exactly half over, Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen remains undefeated across all distances after a convincing win and meeting record at the Athletissima in Lausanne tonight, the sixth stop of the 2023 Wanda Diamond League. Ingebrigtsen, who hasn't lost a 1500m since the 2022 World Athletics Championships final last July, clocked 3:28.72 in that discipline tonight, his second sub-3:29 this season. He now owns the two fastest times of the season including his world-leading 3:27.95 from Oslo 15 days ago.

VIDEO STILL: Jakob Ingebrigtsen after setting a meeting record 3:28.72 in the 1500m at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne (image courtesy of Wanda Diamond League)

In tonight's race he followed the pacemakers Mounir Akbache of France and Erik Sowinski of the United States through the first 400 meters in 55.8 seconds. Britain's Josh Kerr, the 2021 Olympic bronze medalist, was right on the Norwegian's heels followed by Australia's Stewy McSweyn. Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia, the world record holder in the steeplechase, was sitting in seventh position just a few tenths of a second back.

Akbache dropped out first and Sowinski took the contenders through 800 meters in 1:51.8. The American left the race at about 1000 meters (2:19.8) and Ingebrigtsen had to control the race for the next 500 meters. Although Kerr remained close, Ingebrigtsen had a clear lead coming out of the final bend and pulled away strongly down the homestretch. Girma, who had moved into third place on the backstretch, passed Kerr with about 20 meters left and took second in a national record 3:29.51. Kerr got third in a season's best 3:29.64.

"I have had to make some adjustments with my strategy," Ingebrigtsen said in his post-race interview. "I have been putting in extra miles in the last couple of weeks. It's all to get myself in the best shape possible for the Worlds."

Ingebrigtsen was bitterly disappointed in Eugene last July when Britain's Jake Wightman defeated him. His primary goal for this year --where he has already won the European Athletics indoor titles at both 1500m and 3000m and achieved a world best at two miles-- is to get that world title in Budapest in August.

"I did not win in Oregon and I am looking to address that in Budapest," he said.

Also getting a convincing win tonight with a meeting record was Berihu Aregawi. The 22 year-old Ethiopian, the 2023 World Athletics Cross Country Championships silver medalist, ran a fearless race. After pacemakers Adam Czerwinski of Poland and Callum Davies of Australia finished their duties (5:09.5 through 2000 meters), Aregawi took the race by the scruff of the neck and started hammering his opponents. By the 3000 meter mark (7:41.5) Aregawi only had compatriots Hagos Gebrhiwet and Telahun Haile Bekele and Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei --the reigning Olympic champion-- close behind. He ran sizzling laps of 60.9, 60.5 and 60.9 through the bell, and by then only Cheptegei was still close. But Aregawi blasted the final lap in 55.8 seconds, and despite his best efforts, Cheptegei could not catch the Ethiopian in the final sprint. Aregawi was clocked in a meeting record and world-leading 12:40.45, the #6 time in history. Cheptegei, the world record holder for the distance, got second in 12:41.61. Gebrhiwet hung on for third in 12:49.80, just edging Bekele by 1/100th of a second.

"I am delighted to be here and to win against Joshua," said Aregawi, who represents Nike. "It was a great atmosphere. I enjoyed this race. Thank you, Lausanne."

In the other two distance events on the program, the women's 800m and 3000m steeplechase, the wins went to two Kenyans. In the shorter event, Mary Moraa got the better of Britain's Keely Hodgkinson, running a sound tactical race to win in 1:57.43 to Hodgkinson's 1:58.37. Moraa had the inside lane with 200 meters to go, keeping Hodgkinson on the outside where she had to run a longer distance. Moraa was simply stronger to the tape.

"It was a very challenging race and I felt completely empty at the end of it," Moraa said in the mixed zone. "The (cool) weather was particularly difficult for me."

Hodgkinson was clearly disappointed.

"I wasn't very happy about this race," she lamented. "I was in great shape, but I guess today was not my day. Mary was better."

In the women's steeplechase, experience won over youth. Beatrice Chepkoech, 31, the world record holder, outlasted 18 year-old Sembo Almayew to win in a meeting record 9:05.98. The pair had pulled ahead of the rest of the field at the bell where Almayew was leading. But just past the final barrier on the backstretch, Chepkoech took the lead and held it through the final water jump. Down the homestretch Almayew gave her a strong challenge, but despite awkwardly hurdling the final barrier, Chepkoech got the win by nearly a full second. Almayew was clocked in 9:06.82; reigning Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai of Uganda was a distant third in 9:11.91.

"I'm really happy about today's race," said an elated Chepkoech. "I feel so good tonight! This is my first time in Lausanne and I just loved running here, the atmosphere was amazing. My goal is now to get to Budapest and do the best I can."

The Wanda Diamond League moves to Stockholm on Sunday. Like tonight's meeting, there won't be many American athletes competing as they rest-up for the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, which open on July 6.

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