World Records Close Out ’23 Pre Classic

The 2023 Prefontaine Classic (the final stop in the Diamond League series, which doubled as the Wanda Diamond League Final) ended on a high note, literally, Sunday (September 17) in the US city of Eugene, Oregon, with pole vault and 5000m world records as the two-day affair rose to a crescendo.

Swedish pole vault sensation and world record holder Mondo Duplantis approached the bar at a height no man has ever reached and cleared it smoothly at 6.23 meters. Shocked at what he had just done, the 23-yr-old bounced up from the landing pad and ran into the arms of friends and family at track side as they celebrated with him wildly.

Duplantis had just broken the pole vault record for the seventh time in a row and captured his third successive Diamond League trophy.

On the track, Ethopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, who did not spark in the women’s 5000m in Budapest and ended up in 13th place, arrived at the Prefontaine Classic with something special in mind. She lowered Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon’s world record by five seconds with a sensational 14mins, 00.21secs.

Defeated in Budapest, They Turned The Tables in Eugene

Competition began in earnest the day before, as athletes sought redemption for their loss at the World Championships only a week before. Leading that charge on the first day was Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, who was touted to win the 100m in Budeapest; she was beaten into second place and had to face the winner Sha’Carri Richardson of the US in Eugene. Jackson took gold this time, leaving Richardson in fourth place.

Then there was Andy Díaz-Hernández, a Cuban now representing Portugal, who defeated World Champion Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkino Faso as well as a trio of Americans.

American Rai Benjamin has been wanting to defeat the 400m hurdles world record holder Warholm of Norway since the delayed 2020 Olympics; even when Benjamin, too, broke Warholm’s previous record, the Norgwegian was still ahead of him with a mind-boggling 45.94secs. Benjamin, who ran third in Budapest behind Warholm and silver medalist Kyron McMasters of the British Virgin Islands, finished ahead of both men in Eugene with a world lead and meet record 46.39.

Former Olympic and World 400m champion Kirani James of Grenada wasn’t even reach the final in Budapest, and although the 2023 World champion Antonio Watson of Jamaica wasn’t in Eugene, James defeated the three US stars in a row behind him (World silver medalist included) for gold in a season best 44.30. 

Indian javelin star and Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra lost out to the Czech Jakub Vadlejch, a rare defeat in recent times. I note here that Vadlejch’s personal best throw of 90.00m outranks Chopra’s 89.94. Decathlete Anderson Peters of Grenada has a personal best 93.07 that ranks him number one, yet he placed sixth. Could there be a change of guard looming?

USA’s Athing Mu looked flat in performance in Budapest and seemed as if she didn’t want to be there. This young lady who is being groomed to break the decades-old 800m records was soundly beaten into third place by Kenya’s Mary Mora and Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson. However, Mu went to Eugene with a different attitude that jumped out when she managed to hold off Hodgkinson, Jamaica’s Natoya Goule, and Mora to win in 1:54.97 a national record, meet record, and world lead. She pulled the next three behind her to national records as well.

Finally back to his best form was Jamaica’s Olympic 110m hurdles champion Hansle Parchment, who lost to USA’s Grant Holloway at the World Championships. But no matter how far back Parchment is left in the blocks, he should not be counted out. Drawn beside Holloway, Parchment glided over the barriers laser-focused, caught the fast starting American and drove by the field to take gold in a world leading 12.93 and personal best.

Not to be outdone, Nigeria’s 100m hurdles world record holder Tobi Amusan turned the tables on those who defeated her in Budapest. She went to Budapest nowhere close to her world record shape, but she bounced back at the Prefrontaine Classic with a season’s best of 12.33 (1.8w) victory over World silver and gold medalists Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn and USA’s Kendra Harrison, respectively, and World champion Danielle Williams of Jamaica.