Against all odds Monaco staged the Herculis Diamond League meet with a new track and featuring 49 nationalities under the strictest of health-testing regimes. And the athletes responded shattering European and even World records.
1500 Metres European Record
Take Jakob Ingebrigtsen who as a precocious teenager had become double European champion in Berlin in 2018 (1,500 and 5,000 m) at only 17 years old.
Last October, he only just missed a medal from his first Worlds in Doha (4th in the 1,500m and 5th in the 5,000m).
Determined to medal in Monaco this time, the only athlete to eclipse him by a whisker was reigning Kenyan world champion Timothy Cheruiyot who raced in first in 3 min 28 sec 45 at the end of a breathtaking final. Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s explosive second place in 3: 28.68 was his best ever time to become at still only 19 years old the 8th best performer in history and seize the European record from Briton Mo Farah (3: 28.81 in 2013).
5.000 Metres World Record
It was especially worthy of this first world class event of the season – sufficient to awe and shock after the depressingly long break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei more than rose to the challenge by smashing Kenenisa Bekele’s world record in the 5,000 metres in the Principality in 12 minutes, 35 seconds and 36 hundredths of a second.
Cheptegei’s performance in Monaco will assuredly remain in the annals of athletics as a great all-time historical feat. He supplanted Bekele’s 16 year old record dating as far back as May 31, 2004 (12 ’37”35).
The Ugandan had already thrown down the gauntlet last year in Doha by seizing the world title in the 10,000m.
Cheptegei flew so fast here in Monaco that his runner-up, the Kenyan Nicholas Kipkorir Kimel, arrived almost 16 seconds after him. With this scorching victory, he is, and still only at the tender age of only 23, the owner of multiple world records. He already has the 5 km road record. World cross country champion last year, this Monaco world record positions him perfectly just one year before the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Second fastest time in history over 1000m
We witnessed another amazing African feat in Louis Stade II just a short period later when the Kenyan Faith Kipyegon pushed herself to score the second fastest time in history over 1000m 2’29”15, very close to the Russian, Svetlana Masterkova’s 1996 record of 2’28”98.
Scandinavians Shine on a Beautiful Monaco evening
The Scandinavians certainly took well to the new track at Stade Louis II. The Swede Mondo Duplantis won the pole vault with 6m (three failures at 6.15m), and the Norwegian Karsten Warholm just as Jakob Ingebrigtsen did, more than proved his mettle.
For his first 400m hurdles of the summer, the double world champion in the discipline won in 47”10, the second fastest time of his career after his European record last year. (46”92).
The time of 47”10, was the eighth best performance of all time over the 400m hurdles.
Noah Lyles Sprints for Gold
Winning the 200m in 19”76 Noah Lyles had promised to make a gesture in support for the black American population, waving a black-gloved hand at the start of his race.
Strict Health Controls
The success of this rare Covid19 era sports event in the Principality owes much to the organizers insisting on very stringent health-safety protocols. For effective social distancing the fans were limited to a total numbering 5.000 instead of the customary 15.000. The athletes on the field were tightly supervised so they would not mingle as they traditionally do. And all athletes took Covid19 PCR nasal tests both prior to arrival and another test on arrival.
Sadly Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto and two of his colleagues with whom he had been in contact could not arrive to compete after his test results came back positive.
French Athletes Performances
Among the highlights of the French Athletes’ performances who entered the Friday night spectacle in Monaco was that of Wilhem Belocian, third in the 110m hurdles in 13”18 ( +0.8 m / s) a personal best performance and the fifth best in French history. No shame to come third to world champion Grant Holloway.
Djilali Bedrani was also third in the 3000m steeplechase in 8’13”43 and Jimmy Gressier took his personal best in the 5000m to 13’15”77 (7th). Again no shame when you race against a winner who smashes the world record by two seconds. And in the middle distances there were creditable performances by Benjamin Robert with a time of 1’44”56 over 800 m (4th) and Pierrik Jocteur-Monrozier, 3’35”00 over 1500 m (9th).