MONACO — A world record broken after 16 years. An eighth fastest run all-time in another event. A European record run by a teenager. Several world-leading performances.
Some of the world’s top track and field athletes showed at Monaco on Friday what their sport has missed in the biggest international meeting so far of an outdoor season all but wrecked by the pandemic.
Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda was the standout star of the first full Diamond League meet winning the 5,000 metres in 12 minutes, 35.36 seconds to break the world record set in 2004.
Cheptegei raced clear on a balmy night at Stade Louis II to finish 1.99 seconds inside the 12:37.35 mark set by Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.
Cheptegei, who is the 2019 world champion over 10,000, took 22 seconds off his lifetime best at 5,000.
"Monaco is a special place and it’s one of these places where I could break the world record," said Cheptegei, who has trained in Uganda instead of Europe this year.
Canadian Marco Arop was third in the 800 metres, running a personal best 1:44.14 in his first race of the season. World champion Donavan Brazier crossed first in 1:43.15, a world-leading time and 0.08 ahead of fellow American Bryce Hoppel.
Noah Lyles shaped as the star attraction, and the American world champion at 200 ran the world’s best time this year to win in 19.76.
"I got high expectations for myself so I’d say the race got the Noah stamp of approval but I wouldn’t say it got the Noah satisfaction stamp," said Lyles, whose brother, Josephus, was runner-up in 20.30.
The track meet known as Herculis is renowned for fast times, especially in middle distance running, and produced a world record for the third straight year.
Yet that seemed less likely in an Olympic season when all athletes’ plans and preparations were upended by the coronavirus and the Tokyo Games were postponed.
World champion Karsten Warholm asked Monaco promoters to add a men’s 400 hurdles race — and got a sponsor of his to cover the costs — and repaid them by equalling the eighth-best time in history.
The Norwegian clocked 47.10 seconds and has three of the 10 fastest runs all-time. His best is 46.92, second all-time, run last August at Zurich.
Another young Norwegian, 19-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen, set a European record in the 1,500 at 3:28.68, 0.13 faster than Britain’s Mo Farah at Monaco in 2013.
It still left Ingebrigtsen runner-up in a standout race won by Kenyan world champion Timothy Cheriuyot in 3:28.45 that was 0.04 outside his lifetime best.
Jake Wightman became the second fastest British 1,500 runner — rising above greats Steve Cram and Sebastian Coe — by placing third in 3:29.47.
In the women’s 5,000, world champion Hellen Obiri broke clear in the last 200 metres to win in a world-leading 14:22.12.
Orlando Ortega of Spain timed 13.11 in the 110 hurdles, with world champion Grant Holloway of the United States fourth in 13.19.
Armand Duplantis of Sweden won the pole vault at 6.00 metres — 18 centimetres below his world record clearance in February — after his main rival, world champion Sam Kendricks of the U.S., was a late scratch because his poles had not arrived.
Up to 5,000 socially distanced fans were allowed into the 16,000-capacity stadium by the Mediterranean Sea.
"After training so long on my own, it is really good to finally see a stadium with fans. It’s amazing," Cheruiyot said.
The cut-down Diamond League circuit is set to continue on Aug. 23 at Stockholm.