While the Olympic motto “Faster, higher, stronger” continues to inspire athletes bracing to set new records at the Paris Games, their preparations are certainly paying off. Thirteen men ran the gruelling 5,000 metres in under 13 minutes for only the second time. The phenomenal event took the sports world by storm at the Bislett Games, the Oslo edition of the Diamond League, in the Norwegian capital on May 20.

What’s more, Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia almost broke the 5000-metre world record set by the Olympic champion Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda in Monaco in 2020. Gebrhiwet won the men’s 5000 metres in 12 minutes and 36.73 seconds,  just a second longer than Cheptegei’s record of 12 minutes and 35.36 seconds.

Cheptegei finished ninth with a time of 12 minutes and 51.94 seconds. The Ugandan was close behind the leaders as 4000 metres was reached but then fell back. Last year’s Bislett Games winner Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia finished second with 12 minutes and 38.95 seconds and two-time world cross-country champion Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda finished third with 12 minutes and 40.96 seconds.

The winner Gebrhiwet stunned the viewers completing the final lap in an astounding 54.99 seconds. The scintillating display had people raving. The 5000 metre looks extremely vulnerable, said a commentator, anticipating more fireworks at the Paris Games.

“I’m really happy with my time,” said Gebrhiwet, the world road 5 km champion. “I set a PB when I first ran in Oslo, and now it’s even better. The conditions and the crowd were great. It was a very fast race and it wasn’t easy for me, but it went very well. I’ll now try to qualify for the Olympics in the 10,000 m too.”

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The hometown crowd had reason to celebrate, too.

Dramatic photo finish

Jakob Ingebrigtsen sent fellow Norwegians home happy, winning the men’s 1500 metres in a dramatic photo finish.

Ingebrigtsen, the 1500 and 2000 metre indoor world record holder, controlled the pace in the second half, but couldn’t shake off the 2019 world champion Timothy Cheruiyot even on the final lap. The Kenyan challenged the Norwegian down the home straight and appeared to be gaining ground, but Ingebrigtsen took a dive to reach the line first, winning the race with a world-leading time of 3 minutes and 29.74 seconds, 0.03 seconds faster than Cheruiyot.

The local fans expected their homegrown hero, the Tokyo Olympics 400 metres hurdles champion Karsten Warholm, to win, too.

But he was beaten by the Brazilian Alison Dos Santos. Warholm clipped the final barrier and was overtaken by the 2022 world champion.

“It was a tough race, but I wanted to show I am there, I am ready and in good shape, and that I can go even faster,” said Dos Santos, who finished with a time of 46.63.

The Dominican Marileidy Paulino, the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist, won the women’s 400 metres, edging out the world silver medallist Natalia Kaczmarek of Poland.

Meanwhile, the Jamaican two-time world champion Shericka Jackson’s two-year 200 metre reign came to an end as she finished a distant fifth. The 2019 world silver medallist Brittany Brown of the USA won the race with a time of 22.32 with the Ivorian sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou-Smith running a close second (22.36).

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