Monaco served up a selection of fast times, great races and world leads as Trackstaa takes a look at the some of the key action from the 2021 Herculis Meeting.
In a true Clash of the Titans battle, the men’s 1500m looked like it had potential to be one of the fastest 1500m races in recent history as world champion Timothy Cheruiyot, out of form recently, lined up against Jakob Ingebrigsten, favourite for the gold in Tokyo, and Stewy McSweyn who only last week ran the fastest mile by anyone, anywhere for the last 7 years.
The pacer, Erik Sowinski, was told to hit 800 around 1:50.5, effectively world record pace, and wasn’t far off as they went throught the 2 lap mark in 1:50.75. It was fast. At this stage, Jakob looked like he was struggling to keep pace whilst his great rival, Cheruiyot looked peerless at the front. As the race entered it’s final lap, it was clear that the winner was going to be any of 4, the other 3 we’ve already mentioned and the surprise inclusion of the evening, Spanish athlete, Mohamed Katir. Truthfully, as Jakob has been recovering from an illness for the last 2 weeks, the fact he was able to maintain such a quick pace looks ominous for his rivals but, in the end, Cheruiyot’s 53.71 final lap was too much for the field to handle, especially a sub-40 second final 300 to see him finish in a WL and PB of 3:28.28. Incredibly, there were a total of 4 runners under 3:30. Katir was half a second behind in 3:28.76, Ingebrigsten took third in 3:29.25 and, unsurprisingly, McSweyn set ANOTHER Oceania Record, running under 3:30 for the first time in 3:29.51. The first 9 athletes ran under 3:32(!), only Ingebrigsten was unable to run a PB.
Afterwards, Ingebrigsten said, “I am very happy…as I have not been able to train at all for the last 2 weeks. I am confident I will now get even better than this.”
It was an equally impressive men’s 800m race with much being made in advance of previous Olympic silver medalist, Nijel Amos returning to competition and he looked in cracking form. Like the 1500m, the men asked for a pace just outside world record pace and they ran a 48.96 first lap thanks to impeccable pacing from Patryk Sieradzki. Through 600m, it was clear that the winner would come from either Amos, Marco Arop and Emmanuel Korir who had around a 10-15 metre gap on the nearest challenger, British champion Elliot Giles.
In the end, it was Amos’ experience and strength that won the day in an incredible world leading time of 1:42.91. Korir and Amos both ran under 1:44 in 1:43.04 and 1:43.26 respectively. It was a brave run by Giles but he didn’t quite have the legs in the back straight to close the leaders and finished in a still encouraging 1:44.05.
Karsten Warholm was back racing after his world record and he once again ran a meeting record 47.08. It wasn’t quite his world record but still impressive after he clearly struggled to find his stride coming into the first hurdle on the home straight. Alison Dos Santos was second again, but looks to be getting closer in 47.51. Into the final straight it looked like he might challenge for the win but Warholm’s flat speed and power was too much.
Warholm said, “I am very happy about beating my own record. It was a bit of an untidy race at the end, that is something I need to learn to improve.”
Just like the men’s, the women’s 1500m was a completely stacked field and was set to be very fast. Sifan Hassan looking to continue her dominance over the Diamond League up against her rival and reigning Olympic Champion Faith Kipyegeon. It was confirmed that Hassan had asked the pacer to run at sub world record pace (3:50.07). Hassan was favourite having beaten Kipyegeon over the mile in Florence.
Hassan tried everything to drop Kipyegeon, she pushed it on and set a blistering pace throughout but Kipyegeon clung to her throughout. Hassan front ran the whole race, with Kipyegeon tucked in behind. As they entered the home straight, the result looked inevitable with Hassan’s unique blend of speed and strength. Kipyegeon seized the initiative however and kicked past Hassan in dramatic fashion. Hassan couldn’t respond and Kipyegeon finished in 3:51.07. A Kenyan record and the 4th fastest time in history. She destroyed Hassan in reality who was a full 2.5 seconds behind (3:53.60).
Afterwards, Kipyegeon said, “I knew Sigan was going for a fast race and my goal was to run fast to…I am really looking forward to Tokyo and I know it will be a very hard competition.”
In a world-class field in the 800m, European 1500m Champion Laura Muir prevailed in a hugely impressive race. Running a Scottish record an d PB 1:56.73. Her 1500m strength told as remarkably she was able to move out 2 lanes and sprint past Jemma Reekie, Kate Grace and Natoya Goule, within the last 30 metres.
It was a fast race all round, however as Reekie and Grace both set personal bests in 1:56.96 and 1:57.20 respectively. Muir’s decision to run the 1500m only in Tokyo now looks like a far more interesting decision. Afterwards she said, “No [I don’t regret dropping the 800m]. I wanted to give myself the best chance of winning an Olympic medal. The 1500m is my stronger event and there’s an awful lot of people who can run 1:56 for the 800m”. In our view, she’s probably right. She might just win the 800m gold but in the wrong race she could easily finish 4th or 5th. The 1500m she’s definitely in the top 3 in the world – particularly with Hassan dropping the 1500m.
The women’s 200m was the highlight of the sprint events and all eyes were on whether Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce could turn her 100m form into the 200m and hold off the dominant Shaunae Miller-Uibo. For the first 150m it very much like she had achieved it with Fraser-Pryce in a foot race with Marie Josee Ta Lou. However, in lane 1, towering above the other women, Miller-Uibo slowly began to wind up her long legs and use that 400m strength to gain on her rivals.
Eventually, it proved too much for the rest of the field and she eased past Fraser-Pryce who died a bit towards the end to just pip Ta Lou at the line. Miller-Uibo, to be honest, looked comfortable throughout; you never felt like she was in too much danger.
Highlights from the field
World Champion Yulimar Rojas struggled fouling on four jumps, including one in the controversial final 3 format. That allowed Jamaican athlete, Shanieka Ricketts to take the win with a jump of 14.29m.
The women’s pole vault saw American Katie Nageotte beat the World Champion Anzhelika Sidorova and Olympic Champion Katerina Stefanidi with a jump of 4.9m.
You can read the full results from the event here.