Faith Kipyegon

Faith Kipyegon just misses world record; Noah Lyles wins 200m showdown in Monaco

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Kenyan Faith Kipyegon ran the second-fastest women’s 1500m in history, while Noah Lyles won a men’s 200m showdown with the ninth-best time ever at a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Wednesday.

Kipyegon ran 3:50.37 to miss Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record by three tenths of a second.

“I have been chasing the time for quite some time, but I am happy with the personal best,” Kipyegon said, according to organizers. “It seems I did not give all, but I tried hard. I knew this was the best place to get the world record, but I am so disappointed I lost it in the last meters. I hope for the best next time.”

Kipyegon, a 28-year-old mom, owns two Olympic 1500m gold medals and two world 1500m titles. She ran by herself for the last 600 meters after pacers shed, aided by lights along the track showing her the world record pace.

They went out 2.86 seconds faster at 800 meters than Dibaba’s pacers did for her world record in Monaco in 2015. Over the next lap, Kipyegon fell 11 hundredths behind Dibaba’s pace going into the last 300 meters.

Later, Lyles claimed the men’s 200m in 19.46 seconds, his second-best time after his 19.31 American record from last month’s world championships. Lyles distanced 18-year-old world bronze medalist Erriyon Knighton (19.84) and world 400m champion Michael Norman (19.95), cementing his status as the clear current 200m king. He became the first man to break 19.50 twice in one year.

Full Monaco results are here. The Diamond League returns after a break for the European Championships for the season’s last three meets, starting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Aug. 26.

Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100m in 10.62 seconds, matching the sixth-best time in history. Fraser-Pryce, a 35-year-old with seven combined Olympic and world 100m titles, has broken 10.70 seconds eight times in her career, all in the last two years after returning from 2017 childbirth. Six of those times came since May 7, and three of them came in the last five days.

Countrywoman Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, was second in 10.71, a personal best by .02 to become the sixth-fastest woman in history. Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire was third in 10.72, taking .06 off the African record.

Two-time world champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 12.99 seconds, edging world silver medalist Trey Cunningham by four hundredths. Holloway ran the second-fastest time in the world this year behind Devon Allen‘s 12.84. Allen wasn’t in Monaco as he’s at Philadelphia Eagles training camp, bidding to make the team at wide receiver.

Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas won a women’s triple jump that included the top six from worlds. Rojas, the Olympic and world champion and world record holder, moved from last to first with a 15.01-meter leap in the fifth of six rounds.

Australian Kelsey-Lee Barber won a battle among the world championships medalists in the women’s javelin. Barber, the gold medalist, threw 64.50 meters. Japan’s Haruka Kitaguchi, the bronze medalist, took second, while American Kara Winger, the silver medalist, was fourth.

Surprise world 1500m champion Jake Wightman of Great Britain ran down Canadian Marco Arop to win the men’s 1000m in 2:13.88. Kenyan Emmanuel Korir, the Olympic and world 800m champion, finished last in the rarely contested distance.

Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo ran the third-fastest 3000m in history, catching Ethiopian Berihu Aregawi. The 3000m is not on the Olympic or world championships program. Grant Fisher ran an American record 7:28.48, taking .52 off Bernard Lagat‘s American record.

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Faith Kipyegon, ‘the sniper,’ becomes greatest female mile champ in history at track worlds

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In 2015, Jenny Simpson, arguably the greatest U.S. female miler in history, slapped a label on a budding runner from Kenya named Faith Kipyegon.

“I call her the sniper,” Simpson said then, three months after the then-21-year-old Kipyegon won her first global 1500m medal, silver at the 2015 World Championships. “She won’t go out and run hard from the gun, but she can run people down. The last 200 meters or so she’s really good, and she’ll be four seconds back with a lap to go, and all of a sudden she’s running people down.

“I think she weighs as much as my right leg. She’s teeny.”

Kipyegon bagged her second world title on Monday, prevailing in 3 minutes, 52.96 seconds in Eugene, Oregon. That combined with her two Olympic golds, separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition (that included 12 months without running), makes her the first woman to win four global 1500m titles.

“I knew I was the best,” said Kipyegon who overtook Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay on the final lap after Tsegay set a blistering early place. “I had pressure because everybody was expecting really special things for me. Everybody was like, ‘We have faith,’ ‘We believe in Faith.'”

She was one of four athletes from four different continents among Monday night’s five finals to win a fourth global title, along with Belgian Nafi Thiam (heptathlon), Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas (triple jump) and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim (high jump).

TRACK WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | Results | U.S. Roster | Key Events

Kipyegon was the eighth of nine children growing on a farm in the Kenyan Rift Valley. Older sister Beatrice Mutai and her dad, Samuel Koech, also ran. Kipyegon 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.

In 2016, she passed world record holder Genzebe Dibaba on the final lap to win Olympic gold. In 2017, she passed Sifan Hassan, the most versatile distance runner of this era, on the final lap to win world championships gold. She did the same to Hassan at the Tokyo Games.

“I’m biased, but in my eyes she’s the greatest 1500m runner there has ever been,” Brit Laura Muir reportedly said after following Kipyegon to silver and a personal-best time in Tokyo. “I don’t think she gets enough credit for the athlete she is. She’s won everything.”

Kipyegon is the fourth-fastest female miler in history, trailing two dubious Chinese and Dibaba, whose world record is a second faster than Kipyegon’s personal best. Kipyegon said that record isn’t a priority and that she may shift to the 5000m after the 2024 Paris Games, according to Olympics.com. No woman has won three Olympic gold medals in an individual track event.

Worlds continue Tuesday, highlighted by finals in the men’s 400m hurdles and men’s 1500m.

Also Monday, Thiam joined Kipyegon as a two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, prevailing with 6,947 points. American Anna Hall earned bronze with a 297-point personal best total. She vaulted from the 11th-best American in history to No. 3 behind world record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Jane Frederick.

Like Kipyegon and Thiam, Rojas earned a fourth global title. She three-peated as world triple jump champion with the fifth-best jump in history. Rojas, 26, has six of the top seven jumps on the all-time list, including the world record. Tori Franklin earned bronze to become the first American woman to win an Olympic or world medal in the event.

Like Kipyegon, Thiam and Rojas, Barshim became a four-time global champion. He cleared 2.37 meters to three-peat as world champion, a year after sharing Olympic gold with Italian Gianmarco Tamberi (who was fourth Monday).

Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali followed his Olympic gold with his first world title in the 3000m steeplechase, making his move off the last water jump. On the first lap, runners had to avoid a camera man on the track.

All of the favorites advanced to 200m semifinals for the men (Americans Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton, after Olympic champion Andre De Grasse withdrew) and the women (Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceElaine Thompson-Herah and Shericka Jackson).

In the morning, Ethiopian Gotytom Gebreslase won the women’s marathon in a championship record 2:18:11, edging Kenyan Judith Jeptum Korir by nine seconds. Americans finished fifth (Sara Hall), seventh (Emma Bates) and eighth (Keira D’Amato). Gebreslase, the 2021 Berlin Marathon winner, extended Ethiopia’s early success at worlds after wins in the women’s 10,000m (Letesenbet Gidey) and men’s marathon (Tamirat Tola).

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Sha’Carri Richardson upset in her return, 10 meet records broken at Prefontaine Classic

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Just two weeks removed from the final track and field event at the Tokyo Olympics, many of the medalists from those Olympic Games were back for, in many cases, even more impressive performances at the beloved Prefontaine Classic.

Ten meet records and five national records were set – as five events saw the fastest times of the year – at the newly renovated Hayward Field on Saturday afternoon as some favorites were once again victorious and others faced upsets.

In the most anticipated race of the meet, Sha’Carri Richardson made her return to competition after serving a one-month ban that started June 28. Richardson received the ban after testing positive for marijuana at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, where she won the women’s 100m, disqualifying her for the Olympic team.

The 21-year-old, who in April ran the sixth-fastest time in history at 10.74 seconds, was entering her own Olympic race of sorts in Eugene, lining up against the three Olympic medalists from Tokyo and six of the eight Olympic finalists.

Richardson finished a surprising ninth in her comeback, last in the field at 11.14 seconds and .38  from the podium, which was a repeat of the Jamaican sweep in Tokyo.

“Coming out today was a great return to the sport,” Richardson said to NBC reporter Lewis Johnson on the broadcast. “I’m not upset with myself at all. This is one race. I’m not done. You know what I’m capable of. Count me out if you want to… I’m not done. I’m the sixth-fastest woman in this game ever, and can’t nobody ever take that from me. Congratulations to the winners, but they’re not done seeing me yet. Period.”

Elaine Thompson-Herah won in 10.54 seconds, the second-fastest time in history and 0.05 off Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record that has stood for over 33 years. The two-time reigning Olympic champion at both the 100m and 200m was followed by 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist and Tokyo silver medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 10.73 and Shericka Jackson in 10.76.

American Teahna Daniels, who was seventh in her Olympic debut, ran a 10.83 to lower her personal best by .15 and place fourth.

A few minutes earlier, Noah Lyles won the men’s 200m in a world-leading and meet record 19.52 seconds, a redemptive performance after taking bronze in Tokyo in 19.74.

“Well, to be honest, I walked out here on the track and I said, ‘Shoot! That’s a lot of people,’” Lyles remarked about running in front of a crowd for the first time in nearly two years. “I wasn’t even thinking about coming out here, I was going to shut it down. I had a talk with my therapist, she said that of course what happened in Tokyo happened; this isn’t Tokyo. I knew I was in shape and I didn’t get to show that off in Tokyo.”

In a U.S. sweep, Olympic silver medalist Kenny Bednarek was second in 19.8 and Lyles’ younger brother Josephus was third in a personal best 20.03.

Canada’s André de Grasse one-upped Fred Kerley, who took silver ahead of his bronze at the Olympics, to win the men’s 100m in 9.74 seconds. Kerley was second in 9.78, with Ronnie Baker third at 9.82.

Another Canadian, Marco Arop, who was seventh in his Olympic semifinal in the 800m, upset Kenyan Olympic medalists Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich, who won gold and silver in Tokyo. Arop’s 1:44.51 bested Rotich and Korir, who finished in 1:45.02 and 1:45.05, respectively.

Athing Mu and Courtney Frerichs broke their own American records in their events.

Mu last set the women’s 800m record on Aug. 3 to win Olympic gold in 1:55.21, then broke it in Eugene to win in a world-leading and meet record 1:55:04. The 19-year-old was in a league of her own, with Kate Grace taking second in 1:57.60.

“It’s my last race [of the season], I just went out here trying to be competitive again,” Mu said, adding that she’s looking forward to time off to reflect on her success this season.

Olympic silver medalist Frerichs broke a North America record that she held for over three years in the 3,000m steeplechase, lowering her 9:00.85 to 8:57.77 in finishing second to Kenya’s Norah Jeruto, who ran a world-leading 8:53.65.

World-leading times were also set in the non-Olympic mile races, with Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen taking the Bowerman Mile title in 3:47.24, also a national record and Diamond Meet record. Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei won the 2-mile race in 8:09.55 and Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba took the women’s 2-mile title on Friday night in 9:00.75, a meet record.

Allyson Felix was added to the women’s 200m field on Wednesday and finished last in that race in 22.6 seconds after earning bronze in the Olympic 400m earlier this month and later becoming the most decorated U.S. Olympic track and field athlete with gold in the 4x400m relay. Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland won the 200 in 22.06, while Olympic bronze medalist Gabrielle Thomas was second (22.11) and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 2019 World champion, third (22.19).

Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who won the Olympic 1500m in Tokyo, set a meet record of 3:53.23 in that race.

The field events were won by recent Olympic champions Ryan Crouser (shot put), Katie Nageotte (pole vault) and Pedro Pichardo (triple jump), plus reigning European indoor champion Iryna Gerashchenko (high jump). Crouser’s throw of 23.15 meters set a Diamond League record.

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