The Covid-19's arrival in athletics has been as damaging as it has been in all sports. The cancellation of Tokyo 2020, Paris 2020, and the postponement of the Diamond League, which is expected to resume on this August 14th, has been cold water for all athletics lovers. However, athletes and organizations have not stopped reinventing and adapting sport to new circumstances.
As part of this reinvention, the Diamond League is presenting the "Impossible Games" on Thursday, June 11th. This version of the Oslo meeting is estimated to last an hour. It will not be attended by the public in the stands but will be broadcast by the Norwegian NRK, from where it can be enjoyed. It will not have the usual events either, being adapted to the health measurements and geographical situations of the dozen participating athletes.
The "Impossible Games" will have a total of three events aimed at either record-breaking or a duel between titans:
Lavillenie vs Duplantis: a long-distance pole vaulting duel
The first to be confirmed for the "Impossible Games" were the two most recent stars of the men's pole vault:
On the one hand, Renaud Lavillenie, already considered a legend of this athletic modality. The Frenchman, born in 1986, has been five times European champion, gold at the London Olympics in 2012 and silver at the World Cup in Moscow in 2013. Within the Diamond League, Lavillenie holds the record of being the athlete with most trophies in the league: seven in total won between 2010 and 2016. His best performance of the season was 5.94m in the All Star Perche on February 23rd. And his all-time best is 6.16m, which in 2014 gave him the world record title and which he lost a few months ago to his opponent in the "Impossible Games".
Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis will be the one to fight a long-distance duel against the man who has always been his role model. The young American, who is competing under the Swedish flag for the nationality of his ex-heptathlete mother, has a much shorter career than Lavillenie but with more drive. In his twenties, Duplantis has three golds in his trophy cabinet: U-18 and U-20 world championships. He rose to fame with gold at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, where he broke the U-20 world record. After that, his last medal was silver at the 2019 World Cup in Doha. And, among his best records of all time, he currently holds the world record for pole vault, which he took away from Renaud Lavillenie on February 8th, and, one week later, he surpassed it again, leaving the record at 6.18m.
The battle in the "Impossible Games" will bring these two jumpers together but not in the same physical space. Mondo Duplantis will jump from the Oslo stadium but Renaud Lavillenie will jump from his home in Clermont-Ferrand, France, just as he did a month ago with the Swede and the American Sam Kendricks in the virtual duel "The Ultimate Garden Clash".
Karsten Warholm, for the 300m hurdles record
To "Impossible Games" was joined, just at the same time as Duplantis and Lavillenie, by Karsten Warholm, already a legend on the hurdles. The Norwegian will try, in this adaptation of his event, to break the 300m hurdles record, which is currently 34.59 seconds, as Chris Rawlinson left it in 2000.
Warholm, who is 24 years old, has three gold medals in his career: World Cup in London 2017, European Indoor Championships in Glasgow 2019 in the 400 meters, and World Cup in Doha 2019. His best performance of the season was on his birthday, February 28th with 45.97 seconds. He also has the title of the second best-ever performance with 46.92 seconds.
Ingebrigtsen vs. Cheruiyot: long-distance race at 10000km far away.
The track of the "Impossible Games" will also host a long-distance duel. The Ingebrigtsen brothers will compete from Oslo against the Kenyan Cheruiyot team, who will run in the morning in Nairobi and their race will be recorded and hidden until the afternoon. It will be broadcasted at the same time as the race in Oslo. Both teams will compete in an unusual 2000 meter long-distance race.
Each team will have two pacemakers and the individual times will be the ones valid to set a record. It is estimated that the Ingebrigtsen brothers could beat the European record of the British athlete Steve Cram (4:51.39). The "captain" of the team and youngest of the race, Jakob, born in 2000, will be accompanied by his two brothers: Henrik, gold at the European Championships in 2012 and Philip, bronze at the World Championships in London 2017 in 1500m. Philip will also try to break the Norwegian 1000m record before this event. Jakob, on the other hand, won double gold at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin and has recently broken the Norwegian record for the 5000m in a local race (13:28).
The Cheruiyot team will be led by Timothy Cheruiyot, gold at Doha 2019 and silver at London 2017. He will be accompanied by Elijah Manangoi, gold at London 2017 and Edwin Meli, 800m.
On June 11th, the Oslo meeting of the Diamond League will become the "Impossible Games", a new event that will bring together some of the elite athletics artists to keep athletics alive in times of pandemic.