Six nights ago it felt like she was running on clouds and this was similar terrain again, Ciara Mageean nailing second place over 1,500 metres at the Diamond League final in Zurich to cap off her superb season on the track.
Billed as one of the best women’s fields assembled anywhere, victory duly went to the two-time World and Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon, who ends her season undefeated, winning a tactical race just outside four minutes in 4:00.44 – after a blazing last lap of 57.75 seconds.
That also won the 28-year-old Kenyan a third Diamond Trophy, Kipyegon, who lives and trains in the high altitude of Iten, ending her season with a claim now to be among the greatest of all time.
Then came Mageean in second, chasing hardest of the rest in 4:01.68, passing the Ethiopian Freweyni Hailu close to the line, who took third in 4:01.73, her countrywoman Diribe Welteji fourth in 4:01.79.
Like in Brussels last Friday, Mageean again got the better of Britain’s Laura Muir, fifth here in 4:02.31, the likes of World 5,000m champion Gudaf Tsegay, second in that World 1,500m final in Oregon in July too, also left adrift, sixth in 4:02.41, seven of the starters having gone sub-3:58 this season.
Despite the perfect Swiss evening for track and field at the famous Letzigrund Stadium, the scene of 25 world records since 1928, it was clear the main contenders were happy to ignore the pacemaking of the American Allie Wilson, who passed the opening lap in 64 seconds, Kipyegon already a few strides adrift, Mageean right on her heals.
Mageean recovered from a slight chop with 900m to go, Kipyegon hitting the front from 1,200m, passed in 3:18.38, before closing with that 57-second final quarter. Mageean had jumped into fourth at the bell, chasing hard down in third the backstretch, determined to close on Hailu into the homestretch, which she did.
Zurich was bringing to a climax one of the longest, busiest summers in track and field history, each Diamond Trophy win worth $30,000, each of the winners also gaining a wild-card entry to next year’s World Championships in Budapest.
Kipyegon had raced just once since the World Championships, a world record attempt in Monaco, where she came tantalisingly close to the mark with 3:50.37 – just shy of the 3:50.07 which has stood to Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba since 2016. Given that minimal race schedule, Kipyegon came to Zurich saying it was all about winning, not records, and so it proved.
“This was a really strong field,” said Kipyegon, “but then I kept thinking this was the last race of the season, and I took the opportunity to end it in a nice way. It has been a long season, and, indeed, my legs are tired, but I think I still managed to run a good time all things considered. It is really special to race here, this is Zurich, and you can really hear it out there.”
Mageean pocketed herself $12,000 in second, completing a memorable season for the 30-year-old from Portaferry: two silver medals, first at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, then at the European Championships in Munich, before in the Brussels Diamond League meeting last Friday she won in 3:56.63, taking two seconds off the Irish 1,500m record which had stood to Sonia O’Sullivan since 1995. She also finishes the season with the fourth fastest time over the distance, behind Kipyegon, Tsegay and Muir.
In the men’s 1500m, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, still only 21, was looking to add to his list of crowns: World and Olympic titles, multiple European gold medals, world indoor records and world-leading times.
A Diamond Trophy was one of the few things missing from the Norwegian’s Cabinet, and he duly collected it here, winning in a world-leading time of 3:29.02 after hitting the front just after 800m, Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot, who won four trophies between 2017 and 2021, second here in 3:30.27, Commonwealth champion Oliver Hoare from Australia third in 3:30.59.
Other final winners on the night were a blend of old and new, Kirani James from Grenada winning his third Diamond Trophy, 11 years after his first, taking the 400m in 44.26, after world and Olympic silver medallist Marileidy Paulino from the Domican Republic won the women’s 400m in a world-leading time of 48.99.
On the field, Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas, the undisputed queen of the triple jump and the world record holder, took a second trophy with a best of 15.28m, Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh again managing to excel during what she describes as “the most difficult season” when winning the high jump with a best of 2.03m. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also won a fifth Diamond League trophy, the Jamaican winning the 100m in 10,65 seconds.