Last Friday evening, Monaco’s Louis II stadium welcomed the 2020 Diamond League meeting Herculis. We were there and witnessed unforgettable moments, from Joshua Cheptegei’s record-breaking 5000m to Armand Duplantis’ six-meter jump.

From our special correspondent directly from the Louis II stadium.

The stadium was finally able to receive sports enthusiasts after a long break due to the COVID-19 epidemic. No spectator could hold back their excitement as Ugandan athlete Joshua Cheptegei crossed the finish line at minute 12:35.36, breaking a world record held for the past 16 years by Kenenisa Bekele (12:37.35, Hengelo 2004).

“I think Monaco is a special place and it’s one of these places where I could break the world record,” said Cheptegei moments after finishing the race. He admitted that it has not been an easy period: “It took a lot of mind-setting to keep being motivated this year because so many people are staying at home, but you have to stay motivated. I pushed myself, I had the right staff with me, the right coach. I’m also usually based in Europe but being based in Uganda with my family was actually great.”

“I will for sure celebrate the world record when I get home,” he added.

Orlando Ortega delivers a memorable performance

When Orlando Ortega won the men 110m hurdles (13.11), beating Andrew Pozzi (13.14) and Wilhem Belocian (13.18), the Spanish athlete achieved a personal best.

“I tried to do my best in this exceptional competition,” he said after the race. “It’s been a difficult season, but I tried to keep going regardless and am so happy to have had such a positive start,” he added.

Another race, another record-breaking performance. This time it is American athlete Donovan Brazier. With a time of 1:43.15, he achieved this year’s leading score in the 800m, beating Bryce Hoppel (1:43.23) and Marco Arop (1:44.14). The fourth place went to French athlete Benjamin Robert, who, with a time of 1:44.56, achieved the best French performance of the season.

Orlando Ortega

Armand Duplantis raises the bar

Meanwhile, in front of the stands that usually seat cheering AS Monaco fans, Armand Duplantis, crushed his competitors with a 6-meter jump, setting a new world-leading height. The 20-year-old Swedish athlete of American origin, who now holds the world record for indoor pole vaulting, daringly tried to jump 6.15m in hope of breaking the 6.14m world record held by Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka. Despite failing three times, Duplantis, known widely as “Mondo”, stunned competitors and public alike with his unmistakable talent.

“It was important for me to successfully jump 6 meters. I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I was in good enough shape to achieve it”, explained Duplantis at the end of the competition. “I’m still a little rusty and need to work on two or three things, but it’s only a question of rhythm. Physically, I feel good.”

Hellen Obiri

Stellar performances: from Hellen Obiri to Karsten Warholm

Hellen Obiri won the 5000 m in 14:22.12, thus achieving the leading score of 2020, in a race that saw the surrender of Sifan Hassan, double world champion in both 1500m and 10000m and the favourite to win.

Lynna Irby and Faith Kipyegon both achieved a new world-leading score in their respective disciplines. Irby ran the 400m in a striking 50.50, while Kipyegon crossed the 1000m finish line with a time of 2:29.15.

And how can we forget Karsten Warholm’s performance in the 400m hurdles. The Norwegian athlete crushed the competition. Neither Yasmani Copello (49.04) who arrived second and Rasmus Mägi (third place with 49.23), could keep up with him. At the end of the competition Wahrlom stated simply: “This was the race I wanted to run”. A time which earned him the 8th best performance in the history of his discipline.

Karsten Warholm

Still interested? Here are other note-worthy performances:

  • Kenyan athlete Timothy Cheruiyot set a world-leading time in the 1500m. He beat Norwegian athlete Jakob Ingebrigsten, who set a new European record (3:28.68) and the Brit Jake Wightman (3:29.47).
  • Another world-leading score was achieved by Noah Lyles in the 200m with a time of 19:76. He beat his brother Josephus Lyles by half a second (20.30) and German runner Deniz Almas (20.64)
  • In a close fight for first place with Leonard Kipkemoi Bett throughout the whole of the 3000 m steeple, Soufiane El Bakkali set a new world-leading performance with a time of 8:08.04.

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The number of new world-leading times set on Friday evening during Monaco’s Diamond league meeting Herculis.