World Records Cap Magnificent DL Final
WR’s for Tsegay and Duplantis
World Athletics
World Championships
Eugene, Oregon
September 17, 2023 / Day Two

This is the second feature by David Hunter on the 2023 Pre Classic. Two days of incredible finals, the Pre Classic set the best meet score, in terms of performances by World Athletics, ever and beat nearest competition by 3000 points! The two world records on day two had to add to the success of the meeting, but it was also the great crowd, great atmosphere, incredible level of competition and end of season that gave the Nike Pre 2023 its flavor! 

It has been a long, winding, and sometimes withering journey that began in the spring and concluded here in Eugene in mid-September. But the Pre-Class’s hosting of the World Athletics Diamond League final – with a cavalcade of tremendous performances – has made the journey worth it for the athletes and for the legions of fans who love track & field.

Emmanuel Wanyonyi and Marco Arop battle over the Nike Pre 800m, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

Day Two was spiced with a kaleidoscope of exciting – and often unexpected – events: 3 athletes finishing sub-1:43 in the men’s 800 meters; Femke Bol posting yet another sub-52 second runaway win in the women’s 440m hurdles; reigning Olympic gold medalist Valarie Allman embracing the Diamond League trophy after her nail-biting victory in the discus; Jacob Ingebrigtsen, diving at the finish line to hold off hard-charging Yomif Kejelcha to win the 3000-meter race by a margin of 0.01 seconds; Tobi Amusun and Hansel Parchment pulling off upset wins in the hurdles; Joe Kovacs scoring a long-awaited shot put victory by a margin of 2 centimeters over Ryan Crouser; a gritty homestretch drive by Athing Mu to win the women’s 800 meters as she continues her quest for the world record in that event. Track and field newcomers and grizzled veterans alike were breathless with what they witnessed. All of this – and much more – happened in less than 3 hours!

Gudaf Tsegay ran WR 14:00.21 for 5,000m, September 17, 2023, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

But the crown jewels of the day were the two world-record performances. In the women’s 5000 meters, a carefully crafted race plan – complete with competitor pacers and wave lights – was assembled to give several East African athletes a shot to take down the 5K world record of 14:05.20 set by Faith Kipyegon earlier this summer. A covey of the finalists, including USA’s Sinclaire Johnson and Elise Cranny, stepped up to handle the early pacing. The targeted tempo ran like a Swiss watch. Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay and Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet kept the pace crisp and right on schedule as the other competitors tucked in for the ride. This was more than a championship race – it was a science experiment. As the race continued, other competitors fell back as the record pace exacted its toll. At the bell, the entire Hayward Field attendees arose as one as only Tsgay and Chebet remained up front for the final 400 meters. It was a classic sight that we have seen before an Ethiopian and a Kenyan battling for the win, the trophy, and perhaps a new world record. A meaningful shift in pace by Tsgay over the final 200 meters proved to be the difference as Tsgay hit the finish line at 14:00.21, with Chebet crossing quickly thereafter in 14:05.92. The duo immediately embraced to celebrate their performance: a 5000-meter race finishing time that had never been clocked before.

Gudaf Tsegay celebrates her 5000m WR of 14:00.21! photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

Afterward, a jubilant Tsgay met with the media. “My focus today is world record,” announced the new record holder. “Because I’m so hungry [for the] World Championship, my focus [had been] on a World Championship, but I missed the 5000 [due to my] injury, my leg is a problem. I [couldn’t] sleep; I’m very hungry in my mind. But today is very happy.” When asked if she would try to break 14 minutes next year, the new record holder quickly replied, “Yes, I try.”

Later in the afternoon, the men’s pole vault got underway. 7 accomplished athletes would be competing, but all eyes would be on the reigning Olympic and Diamond League champion and the world record holder Armand Duplantis. The unmatched vaulter has been on a crusade, working hard to improve his current world record of 6.22 meters / 20’4¾”. For Mondo, his pursuit to better his pole vault record is his current White Whale. This summer, he has had several shots at 6.23 meters / 20’5¼” – most notably attempts at USA Nationals and later at Budapest’s World Championships – but has yet to scale that lofty bar. Would today be his success? While the other 6 vaulters – all quite proficient – would occasionally need extra vaults to clear and advance, Mondo was jumping cleanly and periodically passing so as to preserve energy for the clearance he has been pursuing. When all of his competitors were out at 5.82m, Mondo took a first-jump clearance at 6.02m and then called for the bar to be raised to his deep-seated target: 6.23m. It only took one jump: a magnificent vault that allowed the nimble athlete to slither cleanly over the bar as the Hayward Field faithful erupted. Jubilant and sincerely ecstatic, Mondo leaped off the pad, ran to his parents and others, and engaged in a genuine celebration while the stadium crowd roared its approval. Mondo not only raised his world record, but he also pitched a perfect game in pursuit of his goal. While his competitors had tackled as many as 9 jump attempts, Duplantis jumped only 4 times – all clean – in this successful quest at a new world record.

Mondo Duplantis sets new WR of 6.23m in Eugene, 9/17/23, photo by Kevin Morris

Later, Duplantis spoke to the press. “The limit is very high, and I hope I can continue to jump well and keep jumping higher than I did today, but for now, I’m not really thinking about anything except enjoying this moment and what I just did.”

The Diamond League champion discussed his love affair with the vault. “For me, I just try to jump high. I love pole vaulting so much, and I’ve loved it ever since I was just a little kid. If I can take pole vaulting to another level and get as many eyes as possible watching it by jumping really high and doing some cool things, then that’s a job well done by me. I like where I’m at; I’m gonna try to keep building on this. It’s very nice for me because it’s a lot shorter competition and I think it’s a lot easier to be fresh at that world record height. And so I think the format of the Diamond League final is super nice for me to go out and attempt a world record and, in this case, break it.

Mondo Duplantis, photo by Kevin Morris

Before heading off, Mondo revealed his fondness for Hayward Field. “I’ve been jumping pretty well here, though. And especially the new stadium; I’m two for two on world records coming here to Hayward right now. I think it’s just a combination of everything — it has absolutely everything. It has the history; it has the modern touch. The track is really fast; The crowd and energy are fantastic. Everything just building up to what I need to be able to break the world record.” / Dave Hunter /