Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands on Friday broke the 23-year-old women’s mile world record at the Herculis Diamond League meeting in Monaco, when she clocked 4 minutes, 12.33 seconds in a race dedicated to US runner Gabe Grunewald, who died from cancer last month at the age of 32.
Hassan, 26, initially looked to be off the record pace in the rarely run event, but finished strongly to edge the 4 minutes, 12.56 seconds set by Russia’s Svetlana Masterkova in Zurich in 1996.
It was a fitting performance in an event named the “Brave Like Gabe” Mile. There was a tribute to Grunewald on the big screens at the stadium before the race and once it was under way, Hassan was always in control.
“I knew I could run fast, but the first 800 was a bit slow, so after that I wasn’t thinking it would be a world record,” said Hassan, who took more than two seconds off her previous best for the distance.
“When I crossed the line I was so surprised,” she added after clocking a 62 second final lap.
“After you run the last 400 like that and set a world record, it gives you so much confidence over 5,000m,” she said.
Hassan’s was not the only classy middle-distance performance of the night, as Nijel Amos ran the fastest 800m seen since the 2012 Olympics in 1 minute, 41.89 seconds.
Nobody has gone under 1 minute, 42 seconds since the memorable final in London seven years ago, when Kenya’s David Rudisha set the current world record of 1 minute, 40.91 seconds and Botswana’s Amos ran his own best of 1 minute, 41.73 seconds to take the silver medal.
Amos on Friday followed the pacemaker through halfway in 49 seconds and held on strongly on a perfect night for the distance, with warm, wind-free conditions.
Cheruiyot Rotich of Kenya chased him all the way and posted his own personal best time of 1 minute, 42.54 seconds, as the first nine finishers clocked their fastest times of the season.
Those fireworks meant that, for once, the men’s 100m was not the biggest race of the night — although it was still an excellent one as Justin Gatlin won it in 9.91 seconds, edging fellow Americans Noah Lyles (9.92) and Mike Rodgers (10.01).
“It’s all about putting together a good technical race, to use my experience,” Gatlin said, defying all the traditional rules of sprinting at the age of 37.
American Kendra Harrison won an exciting 100m hurdles in a season-best 12.43 seconds, while Diamond Trophy holder Shaunae Miller-Uibo was a clear winner in a strong field in the 200m in 22.09 seconds.
In a chaotic men’s 400m, there was a false start and Jonathan Jones of Barbados did not hear the recall.
Jones ran the entire race on his own, while Colombian Anthony Zambrano ran 200m, with neither man able to take part in the restarted race a few minutes later.
American Kahmari Montgomery, who made the false start, was allowed to start the race, which was won by Steven Gardiner, who also ran on for a while during the initial mess, in 44.51 seconds.
“I covered almost 100m, but I stopped when I saw everybody stop,” said Gardiner, of the Bahamas.
Montgomery finished the race, but was later disqualified.
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