Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco is widely regarded as the best middle-distance runner ever. According to the IAAF, he holds seven of the top 10 times for the men’s mile, and he set the indoor 1 500m world record of 3:43.13 on 7 July 1999. After more than two decades, a young runner from Ethiopia, teenager Samuel Tefera, broke the indoor record at the IAAF World Indoor Tour. However, El Guerrouj still holds the outdoor world record of 3:26.00, set in 1998.
“I can’t believe that,” Tefera told AP News. “I’m delighted with the outcome and to have the world record is a special feeling.”
Tefera still has a lot to prove, because indoor world records are said to be “softer” than the outdoor ones. Most great milers in history either did not run indoors or were not in peak shape for those races. For example, Kenyans Timothy Cheruiyot (who does not run indoor track) and Elijah Manangoi have been the two best milers over the past two years, and newcomer Tefera still has to prove that he can consistently race at their level outdoors.
This is especially so given that Tefera failed to medal at the World Juniors. He only finished 10th at the African Champs and 8th at the Diamond League final. However, this can be attributed to his lack of experience.
Ethiopian runner-up, 21-year-old Yomif Kejelcha, was the favourite to win and break the record as he was undefeated indoors. He ended up clocking 3:31.58. This puts him at number three on the all-time world indoor list. Kejelcha, the two-time world indoor 3 000m champion, came within 0.01 of the world indoor mile record in New York, making this defeat even more harrowing.
Other Africans in the top 12 of the races were Kenyans Vincent Kibet, with a time of 3:38.01, Bethwel Birgen, at 3:41.03, and Brimin Kiprotich at 3:41.30.
Another long-standing record tumbled when Britain’s Laura Muir broke a 31-year-old national women’s indoor record in the mile by finishing in 4:18.75 seconds, shaving more than five seconds off the old record set by Kirsty Wade.
“To run one of the fastest runs ever, a British record and a win in your final race before the (European) championships is perfect,” Muir said to AP News.