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World records under threat in Brussels

ATHLETICS By Jonathan Komen and World Athletics | September 4th 2020
Kenya's Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon celebrates with the Kenyan flag after winning the final of the women's 1,500m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 7, 2017.  [AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL]

It will be another moment of riveting action as two Kenyans and three other stars attempt world records at tonight's Wanda Diamond League exhibition meeting in Brussels.

The meet, named after Belgian athlete Ivo Van Damme who died tragically in 1976, will see athletes head to an empty King Baudouin Stadium that brims with ambition as the 44th edition of the AG Memorial Van Damme will see three world records being targeted.

Olympic 1,500m champion Faith Chepng'etich will challenge the women’s 1,000m mark while the men’s and women’s one-hour records will be under threat from, in the first instance, Britain’s multiple world and Olympic champion Mo Farah, and in the second, world 1,500m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands and world marathon record-holder Brigid Kosgei.

Kipyegon will be attempting to better the mark of 2:28.98 set by Russia’s double Olympic champion Svetlana Masterkova on the same track in 1996. And the Kenyan will approach her task with plenty of confidence given her performance in the opening Diamond League meeting of the season in Monaco last month, where she finished just 17 hundredths of a second adrift of the Russian’s time.

Now 37, Farah – winner of the 5,000m and 10,000m at the last two Olympics – is returning to the track for the first time since switching to road racing in 2017 and has prepared for his effort at the high altitude of Font Romeu in the Pyrenees.

Kenya's Brigid Jepchirchir Kosgei celebrates at the podium after winning the annual "Sao Silvestre Run", an international race through the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil December 31, 2019. [REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli]

He has been accompanied by training partner Bashir Abdi, who won European 10,000m silver for Belgium at the 2018 European Championships and who, like Farah, was born in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia.

The mark they are targeting was the last world record set by Ethiopia’s multiple world and Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie, who managed to cover 21,285 metres in 2007 on the track in Ostrava.

The women’s one-hour race involves a fascinating struggle between two of the world’s outstanding athletes as Hassan and Kosgei attack the mark of 18,517m set by Ethiopia’s Dire Tune at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting in 2008.

Last year in Doha Hassan became the only athlete in history to win the 1500m and 10,000m at a single World Championships. In 2019 she also become the world record-holder for the 5km road race – running 14:44– and the mile, where she clocked 4:12.33, with both events being held in Monaco.

Her range stretches – for the moment – to the half marathon, where she set the European record of 1:05:15 at Copenhagen in 2018.

Kosgei, 26, bettered that time on September 8 last year when she won the Great North Run in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1:04:28, although that mark could not be officially ratified by World Athletics because of the nature of the course.

There were no asterisks involved just over a month later, however, when she retained her Chicago Marathon title in a world record time of 2:14:04, a personal best of more than four minutes which bettered Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 mark of 2:15:25.

Men's elite runner Britain's Mo Farah speaks during a press conference following a photocall for the London marathon at Tower Bridge in central London on April 24, 2019. [Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP]
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