When in March the big news was real, everybody felt them like a bucket of cold water with a Tokyo 2020 cancellation flavor. The dream of many was fading away from their hands and the road to the goal was becoming a bit longer and uncertain than usual. What was going to happen with athletics? How the events were going to be held from now on? How were so many athletes from all over the world going to get together?
Uncertainty took over the World Athletics (former IAAF) and Diamond League organizations, which carried forward sport meetings using technology and filmed races during the first couple of months. Some meetings fell along the way: Eugene, London, Paris, Rabat, Gateshead, and Shangai. Others were postponed until the organizations found the almost-perfect date to start the outdoor season. And Monaco did it.
Louis II Stadium opened its doors last August 14th to five thousand people that enjoyed an athletic night as they used to be.
World record of 5000m was broken by the Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei (23). He ran almost all the race laps under 1:01 and left the record in 12:35.36, two seconds under the previous record set in 2004 by the double Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele. A stratospheric race the one of Cheptegei in which he broke away from the pack at the halfway point. The Ugandan athlete proved that the stop during these months not affected him at all.
The European record of 1500m was also broken in the Herculis EBS meeting. Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who is going to be 20 years old next month, demonstrated that middle-distance races can be returned to the possession of European athletes soon.
Timothy Cheruiyot (25) won the race. At first, when he started to run so close to the pacemakers, it seemed he was the owner of the race. However, on the last lap, the young Norwegian was cutting the gap with Cheruiyot. Jakob could have won the race if the Kenyan wouldn’t have known how to take the track to not be passed by the Norwegian.
Jakob, the young Ingebrigtsen brother, stood out in Berlin 2018 when he won 1500m and 5000m races. He only was 17 at that time. Two years later, in Monaco, he has stolen the record to British Mo Farah, who set it in 2013. Now, the European record of this event is lowered 13 seconds (3:28.68).
And finally, the outdoor world record of men pole vault was tried to be broken, but it was just an intention to do it.
Mondo Duplantis (20), European champion and the current owner of the world record – he broke it twice last February – arrived into Monaco's stadium with a season-best of 5.94m. He started the competition in 5.60, well above the height his teammates had chosen. He passed the measure at the first attempt. However, at 5.70, unlike Ben Broeders (25) who passed at the first jump, the Swede could not find the exact point. He came up short in the race but, as he passed over the bar, he left enough space between them. Until his last attempt, when he passed it easily.
5.80m was his at the first attempt and, by that time, he was the only player. He decided to take a higher goal and put the bar in 6 meters. At the last jump, he passed it, establishing the best mark of the season for men pole vault. But he wanted more. He wanted to take a shot to overcome 6.14, a record Sergei Bubka set in 1994. Mondo chose 6.15m to do it, but he could not join the team record of the night. However, Diamond League has just started and he has more chances to keep trying.
Diamond League Monaco: all the events
Karsten Warholm (24) beat the rest of his opponents in the 400m hurdles, setting a mark of 47.10. He broke the meeting record and it was the best time of the season in the event.
At the other hurdles event, the 110m hurdles, Orlando Ortega (29) beat Andrew Pozzi (28) in the last meters. The British athlete arrived with 13.14 as personal best and equaled it in the race. On the other hand, Wilhem Belocian (25) beat the world champion, Grant Holloway (22), entering the podium and improving his personal best.
The 3000m steeplechase race was a battle between Soufiane El Bakkali (24), who reached the finish line first by a few hundredths of a second ahead of Leonard Kipkemoi Bett (19).
At men's speed races, the Lyles brothers took first and second place in the 200m race, with a clear lead from the world champion, Noah (23). At the 800m race, Donavan Brazier (23) fought until the very last moment against his compatriot Bryce Hoppel (22), who improved his personal best.
In the women's category, Ajla del Ponte (24) beat his team-mates. The double world medallist, Marie-Josée Ta Lou (31) came in fourth place. The podium of the 400m race, as planned, was all for the Americans Lynna Irby (21) and Wadeline Jonathas (22).
The women's 1000m race was won by Faith Kipyegon (26), followed by European champion Laura Muir (27), who broke the national record of Great Britain. In the 5000m race, which was between the winner Hellen Obiri (30) and Letesenbet Gidey (22), the retirement of the world champion of the 10000 and 15000m, Sifan Hassan, in the middle of the race for unknown reasons, was highlighted.
The other two women's events of the night were the jumps. At the high jump, the world runner-up Yaroslava Mahuchikh (18) won in 1.98m. And at the triple jump, Yulimar Rojas (24) beat the Bulgarian Gabriela Petrova (28) by almost ten centimeters and the Portuguese Patrícia Mamona (31) by almost 20 centimeters.
Athletics returned to Monaco in the first meeting of the Diamond League season. It was almost normal, except for the reduced crowd in the stadium or the fact that the athletes wore masks and were not sure how to congratulate themselves at the end of the competition. Normality arrived on the track on a night when it was shown that records are immune to the pandemic.