Faith Kipyegon smashes women’s 1500m world record in Florence
Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the women’s 1500m world record, clocking 3 minutes, 49.11 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday.
Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, took 96 hundredths of a second off Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record from 2015. Kipyegon began the day as the second-fastest woman in history at 3:50.37.
“I didn’t expect to run a world record,” she said, adding that she merely wanted to beat the fastest time in the world this year, which was 3:54.03. “The world record was in my mind since last year, but I wanted to approach it slowly by slowly to see what was possible this year.”
The 29-year-old was already the most decorated female miler in history, the only one with four global 1500m titles. Her Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021 were separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition (that included 12 months without running).
Kipyegon was the eighth of nine children growing up on a farm in the Kenyan Rift Valley. She was a soccer player at age 14 when she lined up for a one-kilometer run in PE class, according to World Athletics.
“I won that race by 20 meters,” Kipyegon said, according to World Athletics in 2016. “It is only then I knew I could run fast and be a good athlete.”
In 2010, a barefooted Kipyegon placed fourth in the world cross country championships junior race as, at age 16, the youngest finisher in the top 21. The next year, she won it. The year after that, she made her Olympic debut at age 18. By 2015, Jenny Simpson, arguably the best American miler in history, was so impressed that she started calling her “the sniper” for her ability to run people down in the final lap.
After the pacers dropped out, Kipyegon ran the last lap on Friday in 58.87 seconds, which is 3:40 pace for the 1500m.
Next year, Kipyegon can become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track race three times, joining Usain Bolt. She repeated after Friday’s world record that she may move up to the 5000m after the Paris Olympics en route to, eventually, the marathon.
“After Olympics, we will see what is possible,” she said.
Full meet results are here.
Also in Florence, world champion Fred Kerley extended a year-plus win streak in the men’s 100m, prevailing in 9.94 seconds over Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (10.04) and American Trayvon Bromell (10.09, after returning from a March Achilles injury at a meet last Sunday).
Dutchwoman Femke Bol won the 400m hurdles in 52.43 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded this early in a year. Bol, the Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist, is the world’s fastest this year by eight tenths of a second. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has yet to race this outdoor season and could bypass the 400m hurdles entirely for the flat 400m.
Erriyon Knighton, a 19-year-old American, took the 200m in 19.89 seconds to rank third in the world this year. Knighton may be the favorite at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships given Noah Lyles, who won the 2022 World title in an American record 19.31, has a bye into August’s worlds as defending champion.
World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 13.04 seconds. Holloway, the world’s fastest man this year at 13.01, outsprinted Devon Allen, the world’s fastest man in 2022, in two Diamond League head-to-heads this week.
Spain’s Mohamed Katir won the 5000m in 12:52.09, edging Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha by three hundredths. Woody Kincaid (12:54.40) and Joe Klecker (12:55.16) ran personal bests to move into Nos. 3 and 4 on the U.S. all-time list behind Grant Fisher and Bernard Lagat.
Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the discus in her first matchup with China’s Feng Bin since Feng won the world title last July. Allman, who has the world’s top nine throws this year, prevailed with a 65.96-meter toss, five centimeters farther than Feng.
Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won a pole vault that included the top five women from last August’s worlds. Moon cleared 4.71 meters and has the world’s top clearance this season of 4.81.
American JuVaughn Harrison earned his second Diamond League high jump win this season by clearing 2.32 meters, just as he did in Doha last month.
Italian Larissa Iapichino was the surprise long jump winner, going 6.79 meters. She beat a field that included Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, who was fifth. Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore, remains best in the world this year at 7.08 meters.
The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Paris next Friday, live on Peacock. McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to make her outdoor season debut in the flat 400m, an event she is also expected to contest at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. If McLaughlin-Levrone finishes in the top three at USATF Outdoors, she will choose either the 400m or the 400m hurdles to race at August’s world championships, her coach said last month.
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