The arrival of the pandemic in athletics forced the Diamond League to postpone its season. It is expected that it can be resumed on August 14th, after the cancellation of the European Championships in Paris and the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. And as the wait was going to be too long, the most important league of the athletic elite decided to start heating up engines by creating the Impossible Games.
On the day the Oslo meeting was scheduled on the calendar, the Impossible Games were held. It was a different way of experiencing the Diamond League, a new concept of athletics competition adapted to the new health circumstances and geographical conditions of each athlete. That is why the Impossible Games were full of records and atypical and curious moments.
The event started at 7.30 pm in Norway with the pole vault. Only two athletes arrived at the Bislett Games stadium: nineteen-year-old European Junior champion Pål Haugen Lillefosse and the current European champion, silver medalist at the World Championships in Doha and world record holder in Pole Vault, Mondo Duplantis, aged twenty. Norwegian and Swedish-American were going to fight in a tremendously unusual duel: both from Oslo against the five-time European champion and seven-time Diamond League winner, Renaud Lavillenie, who was jumping from his home in France.
The new rules for the Impossible Games had decided that the Frenchman, due to the impossibility of moving outside his country because of the measures adopted by the government, should record his part of the competition a few days beforehand and then show it at the event so that he could play against Lillefosse and Duplantis. The Swede was confused and excited the day before at the press conference about the new event: "Well, it's gonna be strange", he concluded with a laugh after the speaker's explanation of what the event was going to be like. And, for the most part, it was.
The competition went as normally as possible in terms of results: Duplantis won at 5.91m and at best tanning the Norwegian Lillefosse, who stayed in 5.61m. Then he beat the "recorded" Lavillenie who stayed in 5.86m after three failures. However, it was strange not to hear the audience cheering up the participants' races and, instead of that, the pole vault when bending over was the only sound on the track. "I wanted to jump a little higher but I'm not in the best shape of my life. I know I'm rusty," told Mondo Duplantis to the press afterward. It was clear that the confinement had taken its toll on the male pole vault.
While the pole vault was taking place on the afternoon of 11th June, the first record-breaking competition was being prepared in the Oslo stadium: Filip Ingebrigtsen, the middle son of the Norwegian trio, broke the national record in a 1000 meters individual race, leaving the mark at 2:16.48. The picture of some Norwegian fans who had climbed on cranes to watch the Norwegian break the national record from offstage was really unusual. "This confirms that everything I have been working on over the last year has been worthwhile," said Filip of his performance.
The picture of some Norwegian fans who had climbed on cranes to watch the Norwegian break the national record from offstage was really unusual.
Even more unusual and touching was the poster that Oslo's neighbor left ready on his balcony for the next event. Karsten Warlhom, the king of the hurdles, was looking to break the 300m hurdles record at the Impossible Games, and there was a poster of encouragement from the surrounding houses: "We still love you Warlhom".
— Wanda Diamond League (@Diamond_League) June 11, 2020
With such affection, the winner of the World Championships in Doha had no problem breaking the world record, which he set at 33.78. "I'm used to competing against myself. It's better to compete alone than not to compete at all", Warlhom valued later on with the press as he had to do it without any partners on the athletics track.
And the third most awaited event of the afternoon ended with the European record. The Team Ingebrigtsen made up of the three Norwegian brothers, Henrik, Filip, and Jakob won the race against the Kenyan Team Cheruiyot in the 2000 meters.
To make things even more exciting, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, at the age of nineteen, broke the European record in this category, leaving it at 4:50.01. "Cheruiyot was our main competitor. It's not easy to beat a world champion, but we did it", said the youngest of the Ingebrigtsen's on the event.
The Impossible Games of the Diamond League were full of records and atypical and unusual competition with curious and strange prints. The events were different, with fewer athletes on the track and with the silence of an absent audience reigning in the stadium. The pandemic did not allow the Oslo meeting to be held as it is every year, but not because of this, athletics was going to be impossible.