In Their Own Words is a new series by Stuart Weir, using the words of the champions. Stuart looks to Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Femke Bol, and Mondo Duplantis for thoughtful answers to challenges that happened at the Oslo Diamond League. 

In their own words – Oslo

As I said in a post from Paris, one of the privileges in my life is watching top-class track and field and getting to speak to the athletes afterward. As I know you are far more interested in what the athletes think than what I think, we will look at some issues from the Oslo meet through the eyes of the athletes.

Men’s 1500

As far as the crowd was concerned, the men’s 1500m was all about one man, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the local hero who dominates the event apart from when Jake Wightman beat him in the Oregon World Championships in 2022. He duly delivered in 3:27.95 – World leading time and European record.  He commented afterward: “The race went as expected – running by myself as usual, and the crowd was amazing – it was amazing to perform this way in front of my home crowd; it’s a dream come true. I won it last year, but running in my main event this year is an incredible experience”. Even Mohamed Katir, who was second, commented: “. There was such a quality field out there tonight, so coming second to Jakob is a great achievement”. It was such a fast race that 8 of 14 finishers ran a PR.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen sets ER of 3:27.05, photo by Diamond League AG

I was particularly interested in how other athletes shut out the Ingebrigtsen noise – or if they even try – to concentrate on their race.  Josh Kerr told me “We’ve dealt with it [everyone is talking about Jakob] for six years or so; it brings a tonne of excitement, and I’ve always wanted to come here to his home soil to race him.  It was an amazing crowd and a really good first race to kick off my season”.  Neil Gourley struggled to put his thoughts into words, wondering how he could knock 2 seconds off his PR and still finish tenth! He described the Jakob-dominated race as “vicious,” explaining “we kind of knew it would be pretty relentless from the start with a good wind-up from Jakob at the front to make it hard.”

Femke Bol’s stride pattern

Femke Bol runs 52.39 in 400m hurdles, photo by photo by Thomas Windestam for Diamond League AG.

In a winter interview, Femke Bol told me she was planning to change her stride pattern this season.  I was interested in hearing how it was going – quite well, I think, as she ran a world-leading 52.30 to finish fully 1.5 seconds ahead of Rushell Clayton in Oslo. Her assessment was: “I’m really happy with the race. I think my execution to hurdle seven was better, and I had a lot of confidence over the last 150 meters. This year I am doing 14  strides to hurdle 7 instead of 15 all the way.  It means I have to make bigger strides, of course, because I take one step less. And I also have to change my legs, so I have to work on my stride length and my technique between the hurdles. It really suits me well with my long legs and sometimes long, slow strides. I have the feeling this is really good for me, but I’m not that comfortable with it yet; this is just my third race with the new pattern”.

Men’s pole vault

Mondo Duplantis won and cleared six meters – 6:01, to be precise. This is another discipline that is about one man.  I wondered how he dealt with all the expectations on him and what goals he set for himself.

Mondo Duplantis, Leichtathletik Berlin 04.02.2022
Saison 2021 / 2022
Foto: Lukas Schulze/camera4

Another Diamond League win and another six-meter jump are pretty satisfying. People expect me to jump over 6 meters, but I expect that of myself, which cancels out [other people’s expectation]. I have a lot of peace of mind knowing that I go into every competition, knowing I will jump as best as possible. I’m going to give it everything, and whatever happens, happens. I cannot control how people perceive that.  If people are unsatisfied with the outcome, I can do nothing about it. 

This summer, I want to jump another world record for sure, to jump over the 6:22 mark.  I have already broken a world record this year.  I’d definitely like to jump another world record this year, but the main focus is the World Champs. That’s the goal right now.”