EUGENE, OREGON, September 17 — The Prefontaine Classic’s first performance in the role of Diamond League series capper played out in spectacular fashion over two days.
It was “the highest quality non-championship meeting in history based on competition performance ranking scores,” per the analysis of World Athletics. But nobody really needed the statistical calculation to “prove” it.
The peak moments among myriad highlights on the meet’s second day were World Records in the women’s 5000 from Gudaf Tsegay (rather unexpected) and men’s pole vault. Mondo Duplantis was in town, after all, so that one came as less of a shock. It was brilliant, nonetheless.
Full accounts of all the DL Final events will appear in a series of by-event reports coming to trackandfieldnews.com soon. Don’t miss them, for quality at this edition was unprecedented. For now, our reports on the WRs (in chrono order):
Women’s 5000 — 14:00 Barrier Survives, Just Barely
DL FINAL distance races at least to some extend tend to reflect end-of-season athlete fatigue and tilting for the series trophy as the No. 1 goal. Not this one as over the last 5 laps it became apparent Gudaf Tsegay, leading World XC champ Beatrice Chebet, was beating out a torrid yet smooth tempo. Something special was in the still, circa 70-degree air:
A stunning reduction of Faith Kipyegon’s 3-month-old World Record by 4.99 to 14:00.21 as the 14-minute barrier only barely escaped a breach.
Ethiopian Tsegay — 26 years old and with world titles to her name last year (5000 on this track) and this (10,000 in Budapest) — and the field followed elite pacemaking by Sinclaire Johnson and Elise Cranny through 2K in 5:37.5 (consistent 67-point laps).
From there de facto rabbit Birke Haylom drove through 3K in 8:26.1 — under the World Junior (U20) record and Ethiopian Haylom is just 17.
Chebet followed close as Tsegay led, a picture in power on the track. The tempo drifted into the 68-point range and then with a kilo to run Tsegay shifted down — to 4400 (600 to go) in 65.7 and then 65.4 to 4800 — dropping her Kenyan pursuer.
Tsegay let fly over the last 200 (32.2) and bore down in the final straight to close in 15.8.
Chebet fought hard behind but her 3.6 deficit with a lap to go grew to 5.71 as she crossed in 14:05.92, the No. 3 all-time mark just 0.72 slower than Kipyegon’s now former WR.
Budapest 10K bronze medalist Ejgayehu Taye placed a well-back 3rd in 14:21.52.
“My focus today was the World Record,” Tsegay said, voicing frustration she was unable to defend her 5K crown in Budapest after winning the 25-lapper: “I miss 5000 for injury, my leg is problem. I’m not sleep, I’m very hungry in my mind. But today is very happy.
Sub-14 aspirations? Naturally. “Yes, I try,” she said.
Pole Vault — Mondo’s 7th WR, 20-5¼ (6.23)
“I DEFINITELY HAVE something good going here at the new Hayward Field, that’s for sure,” said Mondo Duplantis. True, indeed, for an hour or so before he had lifted his World Record half an inch above the altitudinous 20-4¾ (6.23) setting he cleared indoors in February.
Lifted as well by the Swedish Louisianan was his outdoor best from the then-WR he cleared as the literal last act of the ’22 World Championships.
His march to a new level on this day was efficient, 4 vaults in all: 18-5¼ (5.62,) 19-1 (5.82), 19-9 (6.02) and then one successful jump for the record.
Mondo skipped the 18-9¼ (5.72) where Sam Kendricks, Kurtis Marschall and Chris Nilsen topped out for places 3–5. EJ Obiena got over 19-1 on second attempt for 2nd. And then came history.
Duplantis brushed the bar with his legs on the way over but it stayed put, and an ecstatic bounding rush toward his family in trackside seats ensued.
Kendricks and Marschall lifted the über-vaulter in their arms as he exulted before he hugged father Greg, leaped atop the railing for the stands with arms raised in triumph and then hugged and kissed mom Helena.
“It’s just higher,” Duplantis later told a reporter who asked him to compare the clearance with his 19-1. “You just need a better jump – and so I stayed on the same pole, everything.
“And my 6-meter jump actually was pretty sloppy, so I just tried to go in there and just try to line up the jump and time up the bend as best as I could and I just kind of was able to sneak over it.”
How did he plan to celebrate the record and season’s end?
“I got my two brothers here so that’s super fun. So we’ll enjoy tonight. I don’t know how easy it is to do that on a Sunday in Eugene, but no matter what, we’ll be hanging out together for as long as we possibly can, as long as we can stay awake.”