Girma takes down Komen’s world 3000m record in Liévin

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Ethiopian clocks 7:23.81 to beat long-standing mark as World Indoor Tour Gold meeting also sees victories from Keely Hodgkinson, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Femke Bol and Karsten Warholm

Daniel Komen’s world indoor 3000m record had stood the test of time. Set in Budapest in February 1998, the Kenyan clocked 7:24.90 to take more than a second off Haile Gebrselassie’s previous mark.

He had already run 7:20.67 outdoors two years earlier and he won the 1997 world 5000m title in Athens. But the indoor 3000m mark in Budapest was one of his best-ever results as he blasted through the final kilometre in 2:24.9 to set a world record that would survive for 25 years.

On Wednesday (Feb 15) at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais in Liévin in northern France, though, the mark was finally broken by Lamecha Girma as the Ethiopian clocked 7:23.81.

Known as a steeplechase specialist, the 22-year-old won Olympic silver over the barriers in 2021 plus world silver medals in Doha 2019 and Eugene 2022. He has run well indoors in the past, however, with among other things a world silver medal 12 months ago behind Selemon Barega.

After so many silver medals it’s fair to say he has struggled to find a spot in the limelight, but he managed it in Liévin by taking down a historic world record.

The pacemakers went through 1000m in 2:28 and the final hare, Tom Elmer, survived until around 1700m when, at this point, Girma took over. Initially he had several athletes for company including Mo Katir of Spain, Grant Fisher of the United States and Jacob Krop of Kenya, but they gradually peeled off as Girma maintained his metronomic pace cheered on by a sizeable crowd and, in Liévin style, some cheerleaders on the inside of the track.

Lamecha Girma and Mo Katir (Getty)

Into the closing stages it turned into a two-man race with Girma still pressing from the front but pursued by Katir. The Spaniard was still lurking on Girma’s heels around the final bend, too, but Girma stretched away to win as Katir clocked a European record of 7:24.68 as he also finished inside Komen’s old mark.

Behind, Krop ran 7:31.35 in third, Birhanu Balew 7:33.42 in fourth and Fisher 7:35.82 in fifth.

“I am so happy with this result,” said Girma. “I was talking about this world record attempt for the past three days.

“My brother is my coach. He told me I had it in me and of course I believed him. I felt really good in training and it was my best form ever, plus the crowd was very supportive.

“The pacers and the Wavelight were perfect – it all clicked. I have raced here several times in this meeting. The atmosphere and the crowd never disappoint. I hope the record stays for a long time.”

Keely Hodgkinson enjoyed another dominant performance as she won the women’s 800m in 1:57.71. But the 20-year-old looked disappointed to fall short of her own UK record of 1:57.20.

There were even thoughts that Hodgkinson could threaten Jolanda Ceplak’s long-standing world indoor record of 1:55.82. But it was not to be for the Olympic and world silver medallist.

Keely Hodgkinson (Getty)

Mary Moraa, the Commonwealth champion from Kenya, finished well adrift in second in 2:00.61 with Noelie Yarigo of Benin third in 2:01.47.

Pacemaker Naomi Korir led through 200m in a fast 26.88 and 400m in 56.39 with Hodgkinson close behind. Moving aside after around 550m, Korir looked like she accidentally got in Hodgkinson’s way a little as the Brit appeared to check her stride.

But she soon got back into her rhythm and passed 600m in 1:26.80 – at which stage she had build a commanding lead – before coming home in style.

There was a similarly anticlimactic feeling after the men’s 1500m as Jakob Ingebrigtsen won in a world-leading 3:32.38.

He fell a couple of seconds short of his own world record but it came in his first race of the year after an illness-hit build-up. The Norwegian also won easily as Azeddine Habz was runner-up in 3:35.27 as Adel Mechaal of Spain was third.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Getty)

Erik Sowinski set the pace through 1000m in 2:20.37 before Ingebrigtsen went into the lead and after that only had the clock for opposition. He later confirmed he plans to race at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul in early March.

Gudaf Tsegay also missed her own world 1500m record of 3:53.09 as the Ethiopian, who went off too quickly and ran much of the closing stages alone, ran 3:57.47 to win by five seconds.

Femke Bol also demonstrated brilliant form again but was a little short of the ultimate record-breaking performance. Jarmila Kratochvilova’s long-standing world record of 49.59 was in her mind – and she came close with 49.96 in Metz last weekend – but here she clocked 50.20 to beat Grit Breuer’s meeting record as she won comfortably from Anna Kielbasinska.

Femke Bol (Getty)

Similarly, 400m hurdles world record-holder Karsten Warholm won the men’s 400m in a meeting record of 45.51, but the Norwegian was half a second outside his own European record of 45.05.

Ferdinand Omanyala, the Commonwealth champion from Kenya, took a convincing victory in the men’s 60m in 6.54. Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs was runner-up in 6.57 with Arthur Cisse third in 6.59.

Diribe Welteji won the battle of the Ethiopians in the women’s 3000m as she clocked 8:34.84 to beat Lemlem Hailu and Mizam Alem.

Miltiadis Tentoglou saw his 8.40m world lead earlier this season disallowed by World Athletics due to him wearing long distance running spikes. But in Liévin the Greek athlete left everyone in no doubt he is the current world No.1 as he leapt to 8.41m.

Such are the expectations surrounding Mondo Duplantis, his victory with a best vault of 6.01m was considered an average day at the office.

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