Mahuchikh, Kipyegon set world records, but Mayer falls

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon poses after beating the world record in the women’s 1500m during the “Meeting de Paris” Diamond League athletics meeting at the Charlety Stadium in Paris on July 7, 2024. AFP

Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Kenyan Faith Kipyegon hit world record-breaking form at Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Paris in the perfect boost before the Olympics kick off in three weeks’ time in the French capital.

Mahuchikh broke the 37-year-old women’s high jump world record, while Kipyegon improved her own record in the women’s 1500m, two results that will see the duo nailed on as two of the stars to watch in Paris.

World champion Mahuchikh set a new best of 2.10 metres, 4cm further than her personal best. That mark beat by 1cm the previous record set by Bulgaria’s Stefka Kostadinova at the 1987 world championships in Rome, one of track and field’s longest-standing.

“Coming into this competition, I had feelings that I could jump 2.07m and maybe 2.10m,” said Mahuchikh.

“Finally I signed Ukraine into the history of world athletics.”

Led out by two pacemakers, two-time defending Olympic champion Kipyegon broke to the front and clocked 3min 49.04sec in a superb display of running. It improved by 0.07sec her previous best set in Florence in June 2023.

Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis also went close in a bid to better his own pole vault world record, but it was not to be in an afternoon of top-class track and field that featured a stunning men’s 800m race while French decathlete Kevin Mayer took a worrying tumble in the 110m hurdles.

There was a distinctly Olympic tinge to proceedings at a packed-out Stade Charlety in southern Paris.

The stadium was awash with tricolour flags, Olympic mascots and a lot of blue after organisers asked fans to come dressed in the colour in support of home athletes.

It was not good for world decathlon record holder Mayer, however, after he tumbled to the ground in the 110m hurdles, the third event of a triathlon also including the shot put and long jump.

Mayer received medical attention before being helped off the track.

In better news for the host nation, Sasha Zhoya equalled his personal best of 13.15sec in winning the 110m hurdles in a photo finish from American Trey Cunningham.

Sedjati on fire

The two world records notwithstanding, the stand-out race of the meet was undoubtedly the men’s 800m.

Algeria’s world silver medallist Djamel Sedjati edged in-form Kenyan teenager Emmanuel Wanyonyi by two-hundredths of a second to win a thriller in 1min 41.56sec.

France’s European champion Gabriel Tual claimed third spot in a national record of 1:41.61 as all top eight finishers set personal bests.

The podium’s times were the third, fourth and fifth fastest times ever run over the two-lap event. Only world record holder David Rudisha and Wilson Kipketer have run faster. World Athletics president Sebastian Coe has now been pushed down into sixth place on the all-time list.

Polish pace setter Patryk Sieradzki responded perfectly when Wanyonyi surged to the front of the pack, accelerating away to take the field through 400m in a blistering 48.79sec.

All eyes were on Wanyonyi, who had won the Kenyan trials in 1:41.70, but Sedjati and Tual stuck with the Kenyan coming into the home straight, the Algerian producing one final surge to claim a thrilling victory.

“I am confident and will prepare serenely for the Olympic Games in Paris in the coming weeks. I know that I can do even better there,” said Sedjati.

While Mahuchikh and Kipyegon set new world records, Duplantis went close to breaking his own in the pole vault.

Duplantis came in at 5.65m and passed at 5.75, France’s 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie — who has failed to get the qualifying mark for this month’s Olympics — making an early exit from the competition.

The US-born Swede then sailed over both 5.85 and 5.95m, with only American Sam Kendricks remaining in the competition.

But the latter bailed out at the 6.00m mark, Duplantis went clear and immediately the bar was raised to 6.25m, 1cm further than his own world record. It proved to be too high.

World champion Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic claimed the spoils in the women’s 400m in 49.20sec, while Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the women’s discus, the American managing a best of 68.07m.

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