Karsten Warholm and Laura Muir provided the highlights of Berlin’s famous ISTAF meeting on Sunday (13), the last of Europe’s World Athletics Continental Tour Silver for this summer.
In what was almost a solo run from the gun, Warholm produced an almost flawless run in the 400m hurdles to record 47.08, the third fastest time ever by a European and the Norwegian now owns the top seven times by a continental hurdler over one lap of the track.
Returning to the track where he won the 2018 European title – as a point of comparison showing how much he has improved in the last two years he won that gold medal in 47.64, a personal best at that time – he also set a meeting record that had stood for more than 40 years, with the venerable American Ed Moses having run 47.17 in 1980.
Warholm may still be 0.09 in arrears of Kevin Young’s world record from 1992 after his European record of 46.87 in Stockholm last month but he has now run 47.10 or better on four occasions, whereas the only other person to achieve such a feat is his friendly rival Rai Benjamin, with the American having achieved such a distinction twice.
47.08 for Karsten Warholm in the 400 hurdles in Berlin, which erases Edwin Moses' ISTAF meet record of 47.17 from 1980. pic.twitter.com/ubVMyN64fe— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) September 13, 2020
“I love running in this stadium, it has got a fast track. It might be my favourite stadium,” said a tired but delighted Warholm.
“I am really happy with today´s race. This year, I have had a very good season, running low 47s and once in the 46s. To be honest, I got chills coming out here, everybody was making a lot of noise. Although they are not allowed to have a lot of people in here (only 3500 spectators were allowed). The atmosphere was the best this year. It was really good, and it gave me this extra energy. I missed racing in front of the fans a lot during the last six months.
“I have another competition in Rome (at the Diamond League meeting this coming Thursday) and then our nationals. Holiday? What is that? I think I will not be able to go on holiday. I have to go back and train,” he joked to the trackside interviewer.
A very distant second behind Warholm in the German capital was Estonia’s Rasmus Magi in a season’s bets of 49.22.
Muir was equally dominant in her race and, like Warholm, might count Berlin as one of her favourite venues as she also took her first continental title in the same stadium two years ago.
With the 400m of the 1500m in a super-quick 1:02.54 and 800m point reached in 2:09.32, a fast time was highly likely and so it proved.
The last of the pacemakers stepped to one side with 500 metres to go and Muir carried on forging ahead, putting ever greater distance between herself and the chasing pack of world-class runners.
After passing 1200m in 3:10.6, a sub-four time was almost certain, it was just a question of by how much Muir was going to go under that mark.
Picking up the pack from the final bend, she crossed the line in a world-leading 3:57.40 to improve on her time of 3:57.86 from Stockholm and also set an ISTAF meeting record.
Behind her, fellow Briton Laura Weightman had a superb last lap to finish second in a personal best time of 4:00.09 to improve her personal best which had stood since 2014 and move to third on this year’s European list.
Mondo Duplantis, another Berlin favourite after his stirring victory in the same stadium at the European Athletics Championships, produced a soaring last-gasp clearance at 5.91m to clinch the pole vault contest.
He had earlier had a failure at 5.82m and then with his first attempt at 5.91m but showed his competitive mettle with his winning leap, followed by a roar of relief.
Duplantis then took aim again at the outdoor world record height of 6.15m but his three attempts had a somewhat half-hearted aspect to them, hardly getting into the air with his first and third attempts.
Berlin is a special place and I was really happy to be back. The crowd is amazing. I have not had this in a while. Having an atmosphere like this is really important for me,” commented Duplantis.
“Things have to be really good when you jump 6.15m, but the wind was there so it was not good enough to take a jump at 6.15m. I did not want to take a risk today. This stadium would be perfect for a world record with better winds. I still have two more competitions, Rome and Doha and then I will have four weeks off-seasons: two in Sweden and two in the US,” he added.
Poland’s World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 bronze medallist Piotr Lisek took second with 5.82m but could not match Duplantis when the bar went higher.
Javelin superstar Johannes Vetter, the 2017 world champion and European Athlete of the Year as well as the winner in Berlin in three of the past four years, fulfilled his role as favourite in his specialist event and won by more than four metres with 87.26m. All the German’s other five attempts would have won as well as they fell between 83 and 84 metres and were better than the 82.61m reached by Moldova’s Adrian Mardare in second place.
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Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, who took silver in Doha behind the local long jump favourite Malaika Mihambo, turned the table on the German in front of her home crowd in the stadium where she had also won a European title when she leapt out to 6.87m in the third round.
Mihambo, also the reigning world champion, couldn’t find the form that took her to a world-leading 7.03m in Dessau on Tuesday and had to settle for second with 6.77m in the fifth round, once again clearly struggling with her run up during the early rounds.
The discus saw a 2017 world champion Andrius Gudzius from Lithuania get his first head-to-head win in their last 10 meetings over his successor and reigning world champion Daniel Stahl, from Sweden.
Gudzius sent his discus out to 66.09m in the third round, which would have been good enough to win, but with victory secured he threw 66.72m with the last throw of the competition.
Behind him, 11cm covered the next three men as Stahl finished second – just his second loss in 18 outings this season – with 65.89m, one centimetre ahead of reigning European U23 champion and record-holder Kristjan Ceh from Slovenia while Stahl’s compatriot Simon Pettersson was fourth with 65.78m.
US triple jumper Christian Taylor, a four-time world and defending two-time Olympic champion, bounded out to a world-leading 17.57m but Germany’s 2016 European champion Max Hess continued his return to the big time after several injury-marred years when he jumped 17.17m for second place, his best since 2017.
Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyang took the 3000m steeplechase in a world-leading 9:06.14 but in third Slovenia’s Marusa Mismas ran a European-leading 9:20.68 on her 2020 debut at the event, which sliced 0.98 from her national record set last summer. In sixth, there was also a national record for the Netherlands’ Irene van der Reijken who ran 9:34.80.
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