The Ugandan world 10,000m champion broke legendary Ethiopian athlete Kenenisa Bekele's 16-year-old 5,000m record in Friday’s (14 August) Diamond League season opener in Monaco.
Cheptegei breaks 2004 world record by almost two seconds
Joshua Cheptegei stunned a sparse crowd in Monaco by breaking a 5,000m world record that had stood for 16 years, running the 12.5 laps of the Louis II stadium in a time of 12:35.36. By doing so, he beat the previous best - 12:37.35 set by Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele in 2004 - by almost two seconds.
Using trackside lighting and a group of pacers to keep the world record pace, Cheptegei ran almost identical splits to the ones Bekele had run all those years ago, hovering around the 60 second mark until a final two laps of 59.97 and 59.64.
It was a phenomenal performance for an athlete who has now added another world best to his current 5,000m (12:51) and since-beaten 10,000m (26:38) road race records - all of which have been set within the last 9 months.
“It took a lot of mind setting to keep being motivated this year because so many people are staying home, but you have to stay motivated,” Cheptegei explained.
“I pushed myself, I had the right staff with me, the right coach. I’m also usually based in Europe, but being based in Uganda with my family was actually really great. I will for sure celebrate the world record when I get home.”
The Lyles brothers come home one-two in 200m
Team USA's Noah and Josephus Lyles kept it in the family in the 200m, running home in 19.76 and 20.30 respectively to secure first and second place. Noah Lyles, the 200m world champion, began the race in the seventh lane, and after an excellent bend stretched his lead even further on his way to a world-lead time for 2020.
Noah Lyles, who recently spoke out about his struggles with depression over the past year, had appeared to set a world 200m record in last month's virtual Inspiration Games, only to discover that the course he had run was only 185 metres long. But with Tokyo 2020 less than a year away, the USA sprinter will have gold in his sights as he seeks to add to the world championship gold he won in Doha last year.
Obiri bests world-class field en route to 5,000m victory
Kenya's Hellen Obiri came out on top in the women’s 5,000m, beating a stacked field that included the Dutch world 1,500m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan. In a race of champions, Hassan found the pace too hot to handle, following the recent end of a long period of lockdown in her country of birth, Ethiopia. She departed the field at 4,000m, leaving only Obiri and Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia) to fight for first place.
With 250m to go Obiri broke away at a blistering pace, finishing the race in a new meeting record and world-leading time of 14:22.12.
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Karsten Warholm sets meet record in 400m hurdles
One of the most dominant performances of the evening belonged to Norway’s 400m hurdle world champion Karsten Warholm, who set a stunning time of 47.10 to break a meeting record that had stood since 1992.
The Norwegian, who has run the second-fastest time ever over this distance, set an unmatchable pace from the start to beat former USA world record holder Kevin Young’s 18-year-old mark by 0.5 seconds.
Faith Kipyegon sets second-fastest 1,000m time ever
Kenya’s Olympic 1,500 metre champion Faith Kipyegon ran the second-fastest 1,000m ever with a blistering time of 2:29.15, just outside the current world record of 2:28.98.
In a race that also saw Great Britain’s Laura Muir break Dame Kelly Holmes' 21-year-old British 1,000m record as she came home in a second place time of 2:30.82, Kipyegon was at her unmatchable best and only 0.17 seconds away from setting a new world record.
Duplantis jumps six metres for first time this year
Sweden’s pole vault world record holder, Armand Duplantis, broke the outdoor six metre mark (6.0m) for the first time in 2020 on his way to a routine victory in the men's pole vault.
Following a dramatic build-up to the competition - Duplantis’s mother had to make a 25-hour trip to Monaco by road to transport his poles to the stadium, while USA rival Sam Kendricks was unable to compete after his poles did not arrive in time - it was business as usual for the 20-year-old Swede, who even raised the bar to attempt a would-be world record of 6.15m.
“That was pretty important for me,” Duplantis said. “I wanted to get over six metres, I wanted to show everybody and myself that I am in six-metre shape.”
The next Diamond League meeting will take place in Stockholm, Sweden on 23 August, 2020.