Down Goes Tefera: Jakob Ingebrigtsen Sprints Past WR Holder

The world record honeymoon is over for Samuel Tefera, and his fellow wunderkind Jakob Ingebrigtsen has ended it as the 18-year-old Norwegian defeated the new 1,500m world record holder on Wednesday in Düsseldorf, Germany, 3:36.02 to 3:36.34.

Ingebrigtsen’s mark bettered his indoor 1,500m world junior record of 3:36.21 that he set just 10 days ago.

Tefera, who on Saturday out-kicked the favored Yomif Kejelcha in Birmingham en route to a 3:31.04 world record, was himself kicked down by Ingebrigtsen in the final meters in a shocking turn of events. Just like the Ethiopian did to Kejelcha four days prior, Ingebrigtsen played the role of chaser as he allowed Tefera to do all of the leading until the final meters. 

Tefera, no doubt filled with confidence after breaking Hicham El Guerrouj’s 22-year-old record on Saturday, sat on the pacers from the start and found himself all alone with 500m to go. But Ingebrigtsen was lurking; after cautiously hanging back through the first few laps, the Norwegian started to seriously pursue a vulnerable Tefera at the 1,000m split.

Tefera held about a five meter lead on the 2018 European 1,500/5k champion with 400m to go, but with 100m left it had shrunk to virtually nothing and Ingebrigtsen looked poised to go around the tiring world record holder. It appeared for a moment in the final straight that Tefera was going to hold him off as Ingebrigtsen was forced out into lane two, but the Norwegian had another gear in the last 50m.

The victory for Ingebrigtsen over Tefera ran his career record to 2-1 against the 19-year-old, whom he beat at World Juniors last July. Tefera’s lone victory against Ingebrigtsen came in the Bowerman mile at the Pre Classic last May.

The upset by Ingebrigtsen is yet another twist in the men’s indoor 1,500m/mile in 2019. Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha looked untouchable after nearly breaking the mile world record with his 3:48.46 on Feb. 9 in New York, only to see Tefera storm past him a week later to break an El Guerrouj-held world record. But then on Wednesday it was Tefera’s turn to be served an upset, as Ingebrigtsen beat him with a dose of his own medicine.

If there’s any consolation for Tefera, it’s that he still won the 2019 IAAF World Indoor Tour despite the loss. 

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