Girma, on his way to the world record of the 3,000m hurdles. JEFF PACHOUD (AFP)
If one hot spring night in Paris a Martian just fallen on earth were to pass by the Charléty stadium, flirtatious blue track, covered grandstands and very cute stands, and see what was happening there, he would come to the conclusion that what everyone calls athletics consists of groups of men and women wearing huge phosphorescent shoes racing in curious defiance of a green light that pursues them and reaches them. It overtakes almost all but a few. Few would contradict him. because chance, which never leaves loose ends, as the athlete and poet, Jenaro Talens, recalls, had guided him on Friday to the most brilliant athletics rally of the twenty-first century, at least, and the most conscientious statisticians equate it, in the category of legendary, to the Weltklasse of Zurich in 1997. In all the races of the Paris stage of the Diamond League, in which there was more than one lap of the 400m track, along with the human hares intervened colored LED lights that marked the pace requested by the athletes. The greens set the world record. Three times the light bulbs lost the race in the space of 110 minutes. They fell in the women's 5,000m and the men's two miles and 3,000m hurdles against magnificent athletes (Faith Kipyegon, Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Lamecha Girma), and carbon plate shoes, light foams to the absurd, which return multiplied the strength of the footsteps of their extraordinary ankles. Around him, thousands of spectators applaud, amazed and restless. What is the value of records? How much is the human factor worth, how much is the technological factor?
Jakob Ingebrigtsen, running against the green LEDs. SARAH MEYSSONNIER (REUTERS)
At 20.50, the Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, took away one of the two records that remained to the Kenyan Daniel Komen, who for 26 years maintained the best mark in the history of the two miles (a distance, 3,218 meters, to which the international federation does not grant the right to be considered the best world record). The 7m 54.10s (four seconds lower than Komen's mark), of the Norwegian, who has not yet turned 23 and is already Olympic champion of 1,500m and world champion of 5,000m, is equivalent to two consecutive miles of 3m 57.05s each. Only Komen and himself have ever dropped below eight minutes, and not even the great Haile Gebrselassie, who also tried in 1997 could not (m 1.08s). And among the geeks, in the networks, they pass to each other details of the incredible training of the phenomenal Ingebrigtsen, who a few days before, to test his good form, ran six 800m in a row, with little rest between each one, with the following times: 2:00, 2:00, 1:55, 1:55, 1:49.5, 1:49.5. "It's my first outdoor world record," said Ingebrigtsen, who holds the 1,500m indoor record (3m 30.60s) and who with his step in the 3,000m, officially timed in 7m 24s, also broke the European record for the distance. The pace seemed quite easy given that I come from the 1,500m, but I was very surprised by the time."
Faith Kipyegon, after breaking her second world record in eight days. JEFF PACHOUD (AFP)
At 21.40, 50 minutes later, the diminutive Kenyan Faith Kipyegon was getting bigger as she had in Florence on June 2 and exactly one week after having become the Tuscan city in the first woman to go below 3, 50s in the 1,500m (3m 49.11s) beat in the French capital the world record of the 5,000m, 14m 5.19s, lowering more than a second the 14m 6.62s with which the Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey inaugurated in a big way the led lights of the Turia track, in Valencia in the middle of the pandemic, October 2020. And, chance does not exist, it was Gidey herself who pulled Kipyegon the most after the official hares in the last laps before running dry, seeing how the green lights ate them and letting the Kenyan start, who had already warned him. "This is not going to stay here, more records will come," Kipyegon, 29, a double Olympic and world champion, mother of five-year-old Alyn, eighth of nine children, said in Florence, who trains in Eldoret in the Rift Valley with Patrick Sang, the coach of the one-time marathoner Eliud Kipchoge. So many things and as fast as his father, also an athlete. "I didn't think about the world record and I don't know how I was able to," Kipyegon said. It was the first 5,000m he had run in eight years, the third of his life. "I just focused on not being hit by the green lights and running relaxed behind Gidey, an extraordinary woman."
And an exact hour later, at 22.40, the Ethiopian Lamecha Girma, another athlete of the year 2000, like Ingebrigtsen, beat one of the oldest and most expensive records in athletics, the 3,000m hurdles, the 7m 53.63s that since August 2004 maintained the Kenyan Stephen Cherono, nationalized Qatari with the name of Saif Saaeed Shaheen. Girma, so accelerated and committed to the record, as convinced as Kipyegon to achieve it, that he did not let the second hare act almost and never felt the threat of green bulbs behind him, so far away they were, left the record at 7m 52.12s. The first Ethiopian to reach the world record in the Kenyan national distance (since Ben Jipcho, the first Kenyan, beat it 50 years ago, in 1973, only the Swedish Anders Gärderund and the Moroccan Brahim Boulami, have managed to infiltrate his name a few years in the list that includes seven athletes born in Kenya) already distinguished another world record snatched from a Kenyan (the same Daniel Komen who erased Ingebrigtsen, and who only has the record of the 3,000m outdoors, 7m 20.67s), the 3,000m indoor track that he achieved in February in Liévin (France), 7m 23.81s achieved with, on his neck, the encouragement of the Spaniard Mo Katir (7m 24.68s, European indoor record since then). A few weeks ago, fearing that he would get the record in Morocco, whose most important athlete is the Olympic and world champion of the distance, the also very tall Soufiane el Bakkali (and Girma is his runner-up), the organizers of the Diamond League of Rabat vetoed his participation.
Although they always won the race, the green bulbs also worked their magic to accelerate the British Keely Hodgkinson in the women's 800m (1m 55.77s, national record) and seven participants in the men's 800m who dropped from 1m 44s in a very tight finish, seven in 63 hundredths, dominated by Kenyan Emanuel Wanyonyi (1m 43.27s).
You can follow EL PAÍS Deportes on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.