(26-Aug) -- Not losing a step after his 1500m/5000m double victory at the European Athletics Championships last week, Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway ran the fastest 1500m in the world this year at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne, the 11th stop of the 2022 Wanda Diamond League. Ingebrigtsen, who will turn 22 next month, stormed away from a loaded field to win in 3:29.05, 18/100ths of a second faster than Jake Wightman's 3:29.23 from the World Athletics Championships last month in Eugene where the Briton upset Ingebrigtsen to win the gold medal. Ingebrigtsen, the 2021 Olympic 1500m champion, now has two of the three fastest times in the world for 2022.
PHOTO: Jakob Ingebrigtsen after winning the 1500m at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne in a world-leading time of 3:29.05 (photo courtesy of Diamond League AG)
Longtime meeting director Jacky Delapierre wanted a fast race tonight and French pacemaker Mounir Akbache set up the race appropriately. The Frenchman split the first 400m in a snappy 55.13 seconds taking Commonwealth Games 1500m champion, Oliver Hoare of Australia, with him along with Ingebrigtsen and another Australian, Stewy McSweyn. The 2019 world 1500m champion, Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya, was running in fifth place.
Akbache ran through the 800m mark in 1:51.58, then darted off the track to the outside. Ingebrigtsen soon took over the lead, and by the 1200m mark had a comfortable cushion over the field. The Norwegian powered down the backstretch with only Kenya's Abel Kipsang and McSweyn within striking distance (Hoare had faded and would finish 12th). He came around the final bend alone and was racing only the clock in the final meters. His time was the third-fastest of his career.
"It was a pretty good race," Ingebrigtsen told the flash quotes team working under the stadium. "Luckily the pacemaker was pushing the first 700m. The risk was that the pace would slow down when he quits, so I had to push and it turned out well. I think I could have gone faster."
Ingebrigtsen has had an excellent year. He took the silver medal in the 1500m at the World Athletics Indoor Championships last March in Belgrade, won the World Athletics 5000m title in Eugene, and won both the 1500m and 5000m at the European Athletics Championships in Münich. He was bitterly disappointed with his second place finish at the 1500m in Eugene behind Wightman, who raced the 800m in Münich instead. The loss to Wightman still weighs on Ingebrigtsen.
"Overall I had a good season," he continued. "Obviously I was disappointed in Eugene. There are always things I can do better and it doesn't always go as expected. For the end of the season and next year I have to put in a lot of work to get faster and break records."
Kipsang finished second in a season's best 3:29.93, and McSweyn --who has been trying to shake off the linger effects of COVID-- finished third in 3:30.18, the second-fastest time of his career. Olympic bronze medalist Josh Kerr of Great Britain was fourth in 3:32.28, and Cheruiyot ended up seventh in 3:32.91.
The women's 3000m was also fast, and nearly produced a shocking upset for the USA's Alicia Monson. Monson, who is coached by Dathan Ritzenhein in the On Athletics Club in Boulder, Colo., led all of the final kilometer and pulled away from the field with about 250 meters left in the race. With big names like Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, Beatrice Chebet of Kenya, Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, Laura Muir of Great Britain, and Elise Cranny of the USA behind her it seemed unlikely that she could stay in front.
Down the homestretch Monson was still in the lead with only Chebet close. But Niyonsaba rallied in the last 50 meters to pass Chebet and just pip Monson at the line, by 1/100th of a second, 8:26.80 to 8:26.81. Both women smashed Genzebe Dibaba's meeting record of 8:31.84, and the first six women broke 8:30. Niyonsaba was very excited because she had missed the World Athletics Championships last month due to a stress fracture.
"It was a bit of (a) disappointing season for me as I missed the World Championships," she said. "Nevertheless, happy to be getting back in my stride. It was a meet record performance tonight. I felt really good and I want to build on it and do well at the DL Final in Zürich, if I get the chance to compete there."
Monson's mark puts her third on the USA all-time list (combining indoor and outdoor times) behind only Karissa Schweizer (8:25.70 indoors) and Mary Slaney. Slaney's mark of 8:25.83, the USA outdoor record, was set back in 1985 (13 years before Monson was born) and was Monson's target tonight.
"I wanted to get the American record, but maybe another time," Monson said.
The men's steeplechase allowed reigning Olympic and world champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco to extend his dominance of that discipline. He was never seriously challenged, and won going away in 8:02.45, ten seconds ahead of second place Hailemariyam Amare of Ethiopia and Leonard Bett of Kenya who were timed in 8:12.07 and 8:12.08, respectively.
"I am glad I ran this time in those conditions," he said. "I had to run basically all the race alone, but the two pacemakers did a really good job. I had to keep up the pace once they left. I came here for the victory, that's what I have done, so I am happy."
Also tonight, George Mills of Great Britain won a mostly national 800m race, clocking a season's best 1:46.74. He beat Switzerland's Tom Elmer who ran a personal best 1:47.44.
The Wanda Diamond League continues in Brussels with the Allianz Memorial Van Damme meeting on September 2, and the series concludes with the DL Final in Zürich on September 7 - 8.