Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen shattered the European mile record on the first day of the Diamond League final at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Saturday (16) afternoon.
At the same meeting where he broke the 4:00-barrier for the first time in his nascent career aged 16 in 2017, Ingebrigtsen ran the third fastest mile time in history with 3:43.73 to shatter the long-standing European record of 3:46.32 set by Steve Cram in 1985 and scare the world record of 3:43.13.
In a memorable duel which evoked memories of the world record race in 1999 in which Hicham El Guerrouj held off Noah Ngeny for the victory - and the world record with 3:43.13 to Ngeny’s 3:43.40 - Ingebrigtsen was tracked all the way by a dogged Yared Nuguse who was motivated by the prospect of breaking the American record.
Ingebrigtsen has showed glimpses of vulnerability in his venerable career when pressured in the last 100 metres but the 22-year-old, who retained his world 5000m title after settling for his second successive silver medal in the 1500m in Budapest, gritted his teeth in the home straight to hold off a persistent Nuguse whose time of 3:43.97 took a sledgehammer to the previous US record of 3:46.91.
For Ingebrigtsen, this was his six European record of the outdoor season - 1500m (3:27.95, 3:27.14), mile (3:43.73), 3000m (7:24.00) as well as a world best over two miles (7:54.10) and a world 2000m record (4:43.13) - and another record could beckon tomorrow when he lines up in the 3000m.
“Obviously I was here to run the mile. I’m jumping in the 3k because I got the opportunity. But now it’s all about getting back home to the hotel - eat, sleep, try to prepare as good as I can and we’ll see tomorrow,” said Ingebrigtsen.
The depth behind the top two was remarkable with a gamut of further records set. Brit George Mills was third in a lifetime best of 3:47.65, one place ahead of Spain’s Mario Garcia whose time of 3:47.69 bettered the national record of 3:47.79 set by the legendary Jose Luis Gonzalez in 1985.
Azeddine Habz was rewarded with a French mile record of 3:48.64 in eighth while double European U20 champion Niels Laros capped off his stellar campaign by finishing ninth on his debut at the distance in 3:48.93 to break the Dutch senior record and relieve Ingebrigtsen of his European U20 record of 3:52.28.