Athing Mu wins 800m thriller, world records fall, U.S. wins most track worlds medals ever

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Athing Mu‘s victory by eight hundredths of a second in the 800m highlighted a three-gold-medal final day of the world track and field championships for the U.S., which broke the record for most total medals at a worlds.

Nigerian Tobi Amusan (100m hurdles) and Swede Mondo Duplantis (pole vault) also broke world records Sunday.

Mu and the U.S. men’s and women’s 4x400m relays won on the last day of the 10-day meet in Eugene, Oregon, the first outdoor worlds to be held in the U.S.

In all, the U.S. earned five medals on Sunday to finish with 33, breaking the record of 31 medals won by East Germany in 1987. Its 13 gold medals are one shy of the record that the U.S. holds from 2005, 2007 and 2019.

Notably, the retiring Allyson Felix earned a records-extending 20th career world championships medal and 14th gold for her participation in Saturday’s preliminary heats of the women’s 4x400m.

Sydney McLaughlin anchored the final quartet with a split of 47.91 seconds, making her the seventh-fastest relay performer in history and second-fastest in the last 33 years behind Felix. It could be a sign of things to come as McLaughlin, who smashed her world record in the 400m hurdles on Friday, may move full-time to the flat 400m.

Mu became the first American woman to win a world 800m title, a year after becoming the second American woman to win an Olympic 800m title. She barely held off surging Brit Keely Hodgkinson, the Olympic silver medalist, to her inside over the last 100 meters. Mu is undefeated in outdoor 800m races dating to 2019. On Her Turf has more on the women’s 800m here.

“Today was kind of a rough day for me,” said Mu, who in Tokyo won by a more comfortable .67 of a second. “I just physically wasn’t where I would like to be. I just didn’t feel my best.”

Mu, at 20, became the youngest woman to own Olympic and world titles in an individual track and field event in history. The only younger man to do it was Kirani James of Grenada in the 400m in 2011 and 2012.

TRACK WORLDS: Results

Also Sunday, Amusan ran the two fastest women’s 100m hurdles times in history, though only one counted for a world record. More on Amusan here. Duplantis capped the meet by breaking his own pole vault world record, clearing 6.21 meters (20 feet, 4 inches).

“I did not touch it [the bar], so that gives you confidence that you can go higher,” said Duplantis, one of only two men to pole vault higher than 20 feet outdoors (Sergey Bubka).

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen added a world 5000m title to his Olympic 1500m crown, taking the lead with 900 meters left and pulling away in the final 200. American Grant Fisher was in third coming around the last curve, stumbled — could have been clipped by another runner — and dropped to sixth.

Ingebrigtsen wants to run the 1500m and 5000m at the Olympics, but ran solely the 1500m in Tokyo because the events overlapped. The 2024 Olympic track and field schedule has not been published, though Ingebrigtsen said before worlds that he petitioned for the events to be separated and that it was rejected.

Kenya finished worlds without a gold medal in any of the men’s and women’s 5000m, 10,000m, marathons and 3000m steeplechases for the first time since the first worlds in 1983.

World record holder Kevin Mayer of France earned his second world title in the decathlon, a day after Olympic gold medalist Damian Warner of Canada pulled up with a leg injury in the 400m. Mayer earned silver medals at the last two Olympics and has a home Games in two years in Paris.

Zach Ziemek took bronze to become the first American medalist in the decathlon since Ashton Eaton retired after his second Olympic title in 2016.

German Malaika Mihambo followed her Olympic gold by repeating as world champion in the long jump, edging Olympic bronze medalist Ese Brume of Nigeria by 10 centimeters.

The track and field season continues with the resumption of the Diamond League circuit with a meet in Poland on Aug. 6, with early commits including Duplantis and world 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica.

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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