It will go down in history as one of the greatest nights in athletics.
Between them, Faith Kipyegon, Lamecha Girma and Jakob Ingebrigtsen broke two world records and one world best at the Meeting de Paris on Friday (9), providing the standout moments at a highly memorable Wanda Diamond League meeting in the French capital.
A week after breaking the 1500m world record in Florence, Kipyegon etched her name into the record books for 5000m, winning in 14:05.20.
Ahead of the race, the world and Olympic champion hadn’t made too much noise about a possible world record attempt in tonight’s 5000m. It was, after all, just her third ever race at the distance, and her first 5000m outing in eight years.
But, as is always the case with Kipyegon, the 29-year-old Kenyan showed no fear as she navigated her way through the race, the early pace – 2:52.31 at 1000m and 5:42.04 at 2000m – seemingly no bother for the two-time world U20 cross-country champion.
Steeplechase world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech was the third and final pacemaker, leading the field through 3000m in 8:31.91. At this point, world record-holder Letesenbet Gidey led from Kipyegon with Ethiopia’s Ejgayehu Taye, the world 5km record-holder, a few strides behind.
Kipyegon took the lead with about 600 metres to go, but Gidey kept close contact. They were about six seconds outside of world record pace, but Gidey also knew what Kipyegon is capable of. The world 10,000m champion knew that Kipyegon had the finishing speed to break Gidey’s world record.
Kipyegon – now speeding up with each and every stride – hit the bell in 13:04.1, needing a final lap of about 62 seconds to break Gidey’s record. She did exactly that, covering the last 400m in 61.1 seconds to cross the line in 14:05.20 – a 1.42-second improvement on Gidey’s mark.
Gidey, competing for the first time since her unfortunate episode at the World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, finished second in 14:07.94, the third-fastest time in history. Taye was third in 14:13.31, while the next three women – Lilian Kasait Rengerek, Freweyni Hailu and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi – all finished inside 14:24.
“I didn’t think about the world record, I don’t know how I made it,” said a delighted and surprised Kipyegon. “I just focused on the green light and tried to stay relaxed and enjoy the race. When I saw that it was a world record, I was so surprised – I just wanted to improve on my PB, the world record was not my plan. I just ran after Gidey – she is an amazing lady.
“I do not know what will be next – I’ll have to discuss it with my coach and my management,” she added. “If my body is healthy, anything is possible.”