This story was written remotely --Ed.
17-Sep) -- Reigning world 10,000m champion, Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia, not only broke Faith Kipyegon's 5000m world record at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., today, but she nearly became the first woman to break the 14-minute barrier. Tsegay, 26, who represents Nike, clocked an other-worldly 14:00.21 to hack five seconds off of Kipyegon's mark of 14:05.20 which held up for exactly 100 days. It was Tsegay's first world record in an outdoor event; she ran a world indoor record of 3:53.09 for 1500m in 2021.
PHOTO: Gudaf Tsegay setting a world record in the 5000m at the 2023 Prefontaine Classic (photo by Matthew Quine for Diamond League AG; used with permission)
"My focus today is world record," Tsegay told the flash quotes team at Hayward Field after her race. "Because I'm so hungry [for the] World Championship, my focus too on a World Champion, but I miss 5000 (at the World Championships) for injury." She continued: "I'm very hungry in my mind. But today is very happy."
What's incredible is that she actually had a race on her hands from Kenya's Beatrice Chebet, the reigning world cross country champion. The two athletes were following teenager Birke Haylom of Ethiopia --not officially a pacemaker, but who split 3000m in 8:26.02, well under the world best for women under 20-- before drifting to an outside lane and dropping out. For the next kilometer Tsegay towed Chebet around the track, the Kenyan refusing to lead.
With two laps to go it looked like Chebet had an equal chance at the win, but after 4000m (11:16.89) Tsegay began to pull away. She ran solo to the finish (besides passing a lapped runner), running 65.7 for the penultimate lap before closing in 64.6. She ran the final kilometer in 2:43.4 to seal the record.
"Yes, I will try," Tsegay said when asked if she would attempt to break 14 minutes next season.
Chebet was rewarded with a personal best 14:05.92, a mark nearly as good as Kipyegon's Kenyan record. Ethiopia's Ejgayehu Taye got third in 14:21.52.
The men's 3000m was also fast, but not quite at world record level. Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen doubled back from his fast mile yesterday, and made it clear from the start that he wanted another win. After the second pacemaker, Sam Prakel, dropped out in the middle of the second kilometer, Ingebrigtsen took over at the front and kept the pace high. He split 2000m in 4:59.12.
PHOTO: Jakob Ingebrigtsen (right) edges Yomif Kejelcha in the 3000m at the 2023 Prefontaine Classic (photo by Matthew Quine for Diamond League AG; used with permission)
"I'm just focusing on myself and trying to run as fast as I can," Ingebrigtsen said after the race, indicating that he wasn't keying on world record pace today.
With 600 meters to go, Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha got up on Ingebrigtsen's right shoulder and two other Ethiopians, Telahun Haile Bekele and Selemon Barega, were also close behind. Ingebrigtsen ran the penultimate lap in a speedy 59.8 seconds, but saved his best running for the final circuit. With a trio of Ethiopians on his tail Ingebrigtsen powered down the backstretch hoping to drop all of his rivals.
But Kejelcha was ready. The two-time world indoor 3000m champion did not falter and tried to pass Ingebrigtsen with 200 meters to go, but Ingebrigtsen immediately responded. The Norwegian, who is getting married next Saturday, rounded the final bend in lane one with Kejelcha to his right and slightly behind. But the Ethiopian had another gear. Ingebrigtsen appeared to be in trouble; his usual crisp form began to deteriorate and he looked over his right shoulder to see Kejelcha was still there. In the final few meters Ingebrigtsen threw himself over the line, tumbled to the track, and awaited the verdict of the photo timer. Was his lean enough to beat Kejelcha?
It was, but only just. Ingebrigtsen was timed in 7:23.63, the third fastest time in history and just 1/100th of a second ahead of Kejelcha, who got the #4 mark of all time. Behind them, American Grant Fisher mustered a strong closing sprint and got third in 7:25.47, breaking his own American record by three seconds.
"Now I'm finishing off the season and I'm happy with that," Ingebrigtsen said. He continued: "I think I'm definitely going to improve in the future if I continue doing what it takes in my training and obviously believing in my work and in myself. I think times will come when I run faster in everything."
The two 800 meter races today also produced very fast times. On the women's side, the rematch between the three podium finishers from Budapest --Mary Moraa of Kenya (gold), Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain (silver) and Athing Mu of the USA (bronze)-- did not disappoint. Pacemaker Kaylin Whitney blazed through 400m in 55.9 with the main protagonists close behind. Hodgkinson was first to 600m (1:26.4) with Mu very close behind, but soon Moraa began to fade and Jamaica's Natoya Goule-Toppin moved into third place.
Down the homestretch, it was a classic head-to-head sprint between Hodgkinson on the inside and Mu on the outside. Mu took the lead with about 30 meters to go and broke the tape in a national record 1:54.97. Hodgkinson set a new British record in second (1:55.19) and Goule-Toppin set a Jamaican record in third in 1:55.96. Moraa had to settle for fourth in 1:57.42.
Although Mu won the race and is entitled to the $30,000 in prize money, as a national "wild card" entry she cannot be Wanda Diamond League champion. As such, the title went to Hodgkinson. It seemed not to matter to Mu.
"I felt really new and refreshed, and I'm just happy," Mu said in her flash quotes interview. "I wasn't even hoping for the American Record, I was just hoping for a PR, but I knew I could do something fast if I could just relax and compete."
Hodgkinson, who beat Mu in Budapest, was also happy with her race.
"I'm actually really proud of myself," said the easygoing 21 year-old. "I'm happy, a national record and a huge PB, so it's a really good way to end the season."
In the men's two-lap race, reigning world champion Marco Arop of Canada had a one-step lead over Budapest silver medalist Emmanuel Wanyonyi of Kenya who is just 19. Arop, who loves to race from the front, led out of the final bend but Wanyonyi caught him with about 40 meters to go. The Kenyan powered to the finish in a world-leading 1:42.80. Arop set a national record in second of 1:42.85.
When asked about his race, Wanyonyi simply said: "I tried my best."
With today's meeting the Wanda Diamond League and the global track season came to a close on a truly high note. Pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis, who jumped a world record 6.23m today, said that finishing the season at Hayward Field was just perfect. The Wanda Diamond League Final had never been held in Eugene.
"I'm two for two right now on world records coming here to Hayward," Duplantis said. "I think it's just a combination of everything; it has absolutely everything. It has the history, it has the modern touch. The track is really fast, the crowd and energy is fantastic. Everything just building up to what I need to be able to break world record."