The circle has been completed. In July 2015, your editor found himself watching Genzebe Dibaba breaking WR at 1,500m with her 3:50.07. On June 2, 2023, Stuart Weir had a live view of the new WR holder, Faith Kipyegon, setting WR at 1,500m with her 3:49.11 run in Florence!
Stuart is just beginning his travels for 2023, and he opened with a WR!
Faith Kipyegon is a woman of faith and focus. Stuart has spoken with her many times and it is great to see his enjoyment of this moment.
World record in women’s 1500
Faith Kipyegon must have been fed up with people asking her if she’s going to break the world record in the 1500m – and I have to admit that I asked her that very question in a video interview the day before the race. Watch it at https://twitter.com/i/status/1664227223501406210
In the final race of the Golden Gala program, Faith found a way of stopping the questioners in their tracks – by running 3:49.11 the record her own.
Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba set the existing record of 3:50.07 in 2015 with Faith already the second fastest ever with her 3:50.37 in Monaco last August.
In Florence, the pacemakers Brooke Feldmeier and Sage Hurta-Klecker did their job, going through 400m in 1:02.37 and 800m in 2:04.00, with Kipyegon just behind. She opened up the gap to those behind her with every stride to become the first woman ever to run under 3:50.
Faith Kipyegon takes DL final at 1,500m, photo by Weltklasse Zurich DL
Britain’s Laura Muir was second in 3:57.09, a highly respectable early season time, but she seemed not even to be in the same race as Kipyegon. Muir has said previously that she believes Kipyegon to be the greatest middle-distance runner of all time, male or female. World Athletics president Seb Coe, who knows a bit about breaking world records in Florence (800m in 1:41.73 in 1981), was in the crowd.
Kipyegon said afterward: “I had a good finish and felt very, very strong at the end. I knew I had broken the world record when I crossed the finish line. I knew everything was possible. After 1000m, when the pacemaker went out, I just pushed myself toward the finish line. I am excited – my family was watching. I told them this would be an amazing day for me; I am well-prepared and trusted. I thank my coach, my manager, my family, my daughter, and everybody who was watching. I am going back to celebrate with my daughter. This was really important because this was something I was still missing in my career. Getting this will motivate me, and I left a legacy for the next generation – they can say she broke the world record and was the Olympic and the world champion. I was not expecting this, but it was possible because of the fans and atmosphere, and they pushed me to the finish. In the last 200m, I did not know it would be the world record, but I was pushing myself, and I felt that the rest of the field was far behind. I thank God for this and my fans for praying for me”.
Laura Muir, Faith Kipyegon, 2020 Tokyo Olympics, photo by Stuart Weir
Laura Muir commented: “It was great to be part of the world record race. I am so happy for Faith. I would have loved to be closer to her. But for the first race of the season, this is really decent. I have never gone through the first 800m as fast as today. I know I’m in good shape, but when you try to stick with the world record holder, it’s going to be tough. When you go through the first half of the race that quick, it will hurt, and you won’t be as fast at the end as you would like to be”.
I’ve known Faith for several years and have been privileged to watch her run and win Olympic and world titles. For all that, tonight really feels like a life highlight.
See my AW interview with Faith afterward https://twitter.com/i/status/1664738920335130626