The rapidly improving Spaniard Mohamed Katir threatened the European 3000m record in the last event of the programme at the Gateshead Diamond League on Tuesday (13) evening, winning in a national record of 7:27.64.
Katir was locked in a duel with Australia’s Stewart McSweyn over the last kilometre just four days after both athletes revised their country’s respective national records in the 1500m in the Monaco Diamond League.
McSweyn finished just behind Katir in Monaco - 3:28.76 to 3:29.51 in second and fourth respectively - and the Australian took up the initiative in the latter stages of the race, covering the penultimate lap in 58.83.
But the long-striding, long-haired Katir loped onto McSweyn’s shoulder midway down the back straight for the final time before uncorking an irresistible sprint finish in the last 200 metres to stop the clock at 7:27.64 ahead of McSweyn in 7:28.94.
A last lap of 55.82 brought the winning time under the 7:30-barrier and almost within one second of the European record. Katir slots into third on the European all-time list behind Belgium’s Mohamed Mourhit (7:26.62) and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen (7:27.05).
This was Katir’s second victory in Gateshead this season after breaking through on the same track in memorably wet and windy conditions over 5000m in May. The longer event will be his focus at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
“I had a dream to be part of the Olympic Games. I've worked very hard to achieve this goal and this performance is the consequence of working hard and training in the mountains,” explained Katir who has broken long-standing Spanish records at 1500m, 3000m and 5000m in recent weeks.
He added: “The first time I won in Gateshead it gave me a lot of confidence and positive energy and I thought 'hey, I can make it'. Of course I will respect all the other athletes that are much better than I am [in Tokyo], but I'll fight as much as I can to make the podium. First of all I have to get to the final and with all the respect for the other participants.
Brit Andrew Butchart was a distant third albeit in a lifetime best of 7:35.18 and Italy’s Yemaneberhan Crippa revised his country’s national record with 7:37.90 in eighth.
Bol and Vetter extend win streaks on the road to Tokyo
Femke Bol extended her win streak to 12 races in the 400m hurdles in her final race ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games where she will also be an integral part of the Dutch team in both the women's 4x400m and mixed 4x400m.
After two close encounters with Shamier Little in Stockholm and Szekesfehervar in recent weeks with Bol winning on both occasions by 0.02 and 0.04 respectively ahead of her US rival, the Dutchwoman dominated proceedings in Gateshead as she strode to an unopposed victory in 53.24.
Little finished more than one second in arrears on this occasion in 54.53 while Brit Jessie Knight continued her breakthrough campaign with a fourth-place finish in a lifetime best of 54.69.
Bol said: "It was nice that this time I was out in front of Shamier so it was mentally different because the other two times I have been chasing. So that was a really good exercise especially with Tokyo on my mind.
"I am really happy to run that time and, of course, I will take the win against such a strong group of girls. I couldn't have had a better preparation for Tokyo and I cannot wait now."
In the javelin, Vetter made it 18 competitions without defeat although the German’s incredible streak of seven successive competitions over 90 metres was snapped on a stadium surface which was not to the liking of the former world champion.
Despite struggling with his approach on a runway which he deemed “slippery,” Vetter still produced the longest throw of the competition in the Final Three with 85.25m.
Other field event highlights included European indoor champion Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk from Ukraine winning the long jump with 6.67m in the Final Three format by two centimetres ahead of reigning world and European champion Malaika Mihambo from Germany.
World leader Pedro Pablo Pichardo from Portugal produced by far the two longest jumps of the competition in the triple jump. Pichardo qualified for the Final Three format with his first jump of 17.29m before skimming out to 17.50m in the sixth round.
Full results here.