The smile says it all - Haile Gebrselassie next to his World record clock in Berlin (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
General News

2007 World records in review

As the year ends, let's take a look at the senior World Indoor and Outdoor records broken in 2007.

Extrack from the IAAF 2007 Yearbook

Tirunesh Dibaba, Ethiopia
27 January 2007, Boston USA
5000m indoors: 14:27.42

While her compatriot Meseret Defar went on a record shattering spree in 2007, Tirunesh Dibaba was not left out of the limelight. With a blistering run on what has quickly become her favourite indoor track, the 22-year-old Ethiopian sliced five and a half seconds from the World Indoor record in the 5000m at the Boston Indoor Games on 27 January.

Striking out alone at the halfway point and lapping the entire field in the process, Dibaba reached the line in 14:27.42, shattering the 14:32.93 mark she set on the same track nearly two years earlier.

“I was prepared for this race,” she said, “and I had the confidence to break the record. [But] I didn't think I would break it by this much.” Building momentum over the final two kilometres, she stayed on record schedule before sealing the deal with a speedy sub-30 second final 200 metres. It was a finely-crafted concerted effort for Dibaba, the focus of her early winter preparation. "I always want to better my performance," she said. "That was my aim, my motivation today."


Meseret Defar, Ethiopia
03 February 2007, Stuttgart, Germany - 3000m indoors: 8:23.72
15 June 2007, Oslo, Norway - 5000m: 14:16:63

If Meseret Defar is the type of athlete who creates a pre-season to-do list, the reigning 5000m Olympic champion didn’t let a thing get by her in a busy and sterling campaign that stretched from late January to late September.

Her heroics began in Stuttgart on 3 February, just a week after illness ‘slowed’ her to an 8:30.31 victory at the Boston Indoor Games, the fifth fastest ever at the time, and one that left her lying flat on the track in distress.

That agony seemed a distant memory at the Sparkassen Cup, where she clipped more than four seconds from Liliya Shobukhova’s 2006 record with a thrilling 8:23.72 performance. But the race was perhaps most memorable precisely because it was indeed a frantic race until the last possible moment.

Defar found herself chased to the line by compatriot Meselech Melkamu, who in her indoor debut finished just a hair’s width adrift in 8:23.74. Had it not been for the precocious 22-year-old aggressive run, Defar said she could have gone even faster.

That would come at the Golden League kick-off in Oslo on 15 June, where, running in still and near perfect conditions, Defar smashed her own outdoor mark with phenomenal 14:16.63 run.

“No, I had no doubts,” she said after knocking nearly eight seconds from the record she set a year earlier. Her mind-boggling record-breaking margin was the largest in the event in more than two decades, dating back to the Zola Budd-Ingrid Kristiansen rivalry when the record was slashed by more than 10 seconds on a pair of occasions.

In the Norwegian capital, Defar had a race on her hands through the initial 4000m, but challenger Vivian Cheruiyot lost touch when Defar switched to overdrive over the waning laps, producing a succession of sub-70 second laps. Her final circuit was a jaw-dropping 64.70.

Beaming after the race, Defar understated, “I didn’t think I would break the record by such a big margin, but I was aiming under 14:20. I think today was a very, very good day for me.”


Yelena Isinbayeva, Russia
10 February 2007, Donetsk, Ukraine
Pole Vault indoors: 4.93m

Yelena Isinbayeva began her 2007 campaign in virtually the same way she debuted in the previous two: by breaking her own World record in the Pole Vault indoors.

The only difference was that her 4.93m clearance, which added two centimetres to the record she set 365 days earlier, didn’t come in her first competition, the 100th edition of New York’s famed Millrose Games. It came instead in her second, at the Zepter Pole Vault Stars meeting in Donetsk on 10 February.

"I had a difficult season last year so this World record in front of the Donetsk crowd was very important and emotional for me," the 24-year-old two-time World Athlete of the Year said.

It was the fourth consecutive year in which she raised the World indoor record at the highly entertaining Donetsk competition, organised annually in the eastern Ukrainian city for the past 17 years by men’s World record holder Sergey Bubka.

It was also Isinbayeva’s 19th career World record, adding another notch towards her goal of matching and eventually surpassing the 35 World records set by Bubka.


11 February 2007, Volgograd, Russia
4x800m indoors: 8:18:54

That Russian women have unparalleled depth in the 800 metres, particularly within the narrow confines of  indoor tracks, has never been disputed. The point was underscored when Anna Balakshina, Natalya Pantelyeva, Anna Emashova and Olesya Chumakova clocked 8:18.54 at the Russian Indoor Championships in Volgograd on 11 February.

Representing the Moskovskaya Region, the foursome knocked 17/100s of a second from the previous mark, 8:18.71, set by another Russian quartet - Natalya Zaitseva, Olga Kuznetsova, Yelena Afanasyeva, and Yekaterina Podkopayeva - on 4 February 1994 in Moscow.

The unheralded 21-year-old Balakshina led off before handing off to Pantelyeva, the 24-year-old who would take surprise European indoor silver at 1500m the following month in Birmingham.

Anna Emashova was next with the baton, at 24 another unheralded two-lapper whose effort on the day would etch her name firmly into the record books. At 26, the anchor Chumakova was the veteran of the relay.


Samuel Wanjiru, Kenya
17 March 2007, The Hague, The Netherlands
Half Marathon: 58:33

Even before he celebrated his 21st birthday on 10 November, Samuel Wanjiru was already well on his way to building a strong case as one of the finest half marathoners ever.

The precocious Kenyan made that perfectly clear in 2007 when he twice dipped under the legendary Haile Gebrselassie’s 2006 mark of 58:55. On 9 February, he clipped two seconds from the great Ethiopian’s mark with a 58:53 performance in Ras Al Khaimah, but the mark was not ratified since an EPO analysis was not performed. Then he did it again just five weeks later at The Hague where he crushed his mark, leaving no doubts after clocking a staggering 58:33. And he did it virtually alone.

“At three kilometres I felt that the pace was too slow,” he said. “The only thing I could do was accelerate! Nobody followed I knew that I had to run alone.” So, for the next 18 kilometres, he said, “The only thing I was thinking of was bettering the World record.”

In an impressive resume, he’s dipped under the one hour mark in all but three of his eight races over the distance since 2005. Of the four men who’ve bettered 59 minutes, he’s the only one who’s done it twice.


Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopia
27 June 2007, Ostrava, Czech Republic - 20,000 metres: 56:25.98; One hour: 21,285 metres
30 September 2007, Berlin, Germany - Marathon: 2:04:26

When he finally decided to turn his full attention to the marathon in 2002, Haile Gebrselassie knew that the classic 42.197 kilometre distance would pose significant challenges that even he, with his wealth of racing experience, could not predict.

He experienced and confronted head-on many of those in each of his six marathon excursions prior to this year’s real-,Berlin Marathon, and while he quickly established himself as one of the fastest marathoners in history, he continued to come up a little short in his highly publicized World record attempts.

During a largely solo run at the 2006 Berlin race, the legendary Ethiopian challenged Paul Tergat’s 2:04:55 World record for just over 35 kilometres. But with the winds battering and temperatures rising over the final stretch, he was reminded again how truly challenging Tergat’s performance is to surpass.

But that changed during his second attempt through the streets of the German capital in September. Blessed by near ideal conditions, the two-time Olympic champion finally conquered one of his two primary marathon goals with his 2:04:26 performance, shattering the mark set in 2003 by his Kenyan rival and friend.

It was the 23rd World record or World best of his unparalleled career, with Gebrselassie indicating it was near the very top of his legendary collection of honours.

“It was something very special today, because this is the marathon World record!” he said. “This is something different in comparison to the 5000m or 10,000m, because the marathon is the king of the distance races.”

As he’s clearly illustrated, records are nothing new to Gebrselassie. His triumph in Berlin was actually his third World record in 2007. Running before a near capacity crowd at the Mestsky Stadium at Ostrava’s Golden Spike in June, Gebrselassie covered 21,285 metres over the course of 60 minutes to break the previous best, 21,101 metres, set by Mexican Arturo Barrios in La Fléche, France, on 30 March 1991.

“Today is just a fantastic day,” said a beaming Gebrselassie, after adding 184 metres to the classic distance running challenge. “I thought at half way that I would get the record. But 50 percent of the record is because of the spectators, and they were fantastic.” In the waning moments he even won another race, dashing past a judge who tried desperately to keep up and mark the spot where the hour would end.

En route, he also broke the World record for 20,000 metres, covering 50 laps in 56:25.98, well within the previous 56:55.6 also set by Barrios.


Asafa Powell, Jamaica
9 September 2007, Rieti, Italy
100m: 9.74

It didn’t take Asafa Powell too long to bounce back from his disappointing bronze medal performance at the World Championships. Just 14 days after finishing third behind American Tyson Gay in Osaka, the 24-year-old Jamaican finally smashed through the 9.77 barrier he first set in June 2005.

“Today I proved to the world that Asafa is back,” was his pronouncement after a sensational 9.74 dash in the first of two heats at the Rieti leg of the World Athletics Tour. Describing what has become an uncanny knack for producing blistering times, Powell added, “I ran easily.”

In the final, he nearly did it again, producing a 9.78 run in perfectly still conditions, a performance bettered by only one other man.

He first dashed into the record books on 14 June 2005, clocking 9.77 at the Athens Super Grand Prix. Last year, he repeated the feat twice, first in Gateshead in June and again two months later at Zürich’s Weltklasse. In the meantime, he’s proven himself to be virtually unparalleled in the world’s finest one-day meetings since he began his ascension in the ranks nearly four years ago, continuing to carry the mantle of the World’s Fastest Man.

His powerful display in Rieti helped ease the disappointment he experienced in Japan, an experience he later said might have been for the best.

“It’s good to get beat sometimes. It shows that you’re not unbeatable. And it motivates me to keep working hard. So now I just have to work hard to stay unbeaten.”

“This season wasn’t the best for me,” he said, “but I’m still very happy. I bounced back very quickly from the World Championships; I’ve run some good times, the World record. My aim next year is to compete as much and as well as possible. And,” he concluded, “to go to Beijing and come home with the gold medal.”


Vladimir Kanaykin, Russia
29 September 2007
20 kilometre Race Walk: 1:17:16

Fulfilling the promise he displayed as he rose through the junior ranks over much of the past decade, Russian race walking prodigy Vladimir Kanaykin cruised to a 1:17:16 World record in the 20 kilometre event at the final of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge.

Choosing the race walk-crazed city of Saransk as a backdrop, the 22-year-old eclipsed the previous mark of 1:17:21, set by Ecuador’s Jefferson Pérez at the 2003 World Championships in Paris. It also thrust the wunderkind of walking firmly among the discipline’s top international stars.

Kanaykin first illustrated his talent at the 2001 World Youth Championships when he took the 10,000m title, before moving up a level with ease at the 2002 World Junior Championships, winning over the same distance. Two years later he followed up with a silver medal at the World Junior Championships.

“It’s amazing, and I can’t really take it all in right now,” Kanaykin said after winning the race by a whopping four minutes. “I never thought I could break the record. The course was impressive, but not as much as the people cheering for me. I knew I had to walk hard for them - after all, most of them are neighbours.”


Lornah Kiplagat, The Netherlands
14 October 2007
Half Marathon: 1:06:25
20 km Road Race: 1:02:57

Producing a near replay of her performance at the inaugural World Road Running Championships, Lornah Kiplagat used the race’s second edition, with the charming ancient streets of Udine as a backdrop, to illustrate yet again that she is the finest all-around road runner in the world.

Aggressive and assertive from the outset, the 33-year-old Kenyan-born Dutchwoman stormed to victory over the Half Marathon course in 1:06:25, chopping a hefty 19 seconds from the previous mark, 1:06:44, set in 1999 by South African Elena Meyer in Tokyo. Sans pacemakers, Kiplagat took to the front immediately, and rarely looked back. Just five kilometres into the race, Kiplagat’s stern pace had already reduced the field to seven challengers.

By midway, only Kenyan Mary Keitany remained. She managed to keep close for the next five kilometres, and her gutsy perseverance was eventually rewarded with a Kenyan national record 1:06:48. Always thriving in an intimate road race environment, Kiplagat relied upon her keen experience to guide her towards the record.

“I heard from people along the course that I was on (record) pace so I kept on pushing,” Kiplagat explained. “And with 2km to go, I was watching the time on the lead car, and at that point I knew that I could do it. I didn’t panic and just kept the same pace.”

For her patience, she was also rewarded with a World record for 20 kilometres, clocking 1:02:57, 24 seconds faster than the record she set at last year’s inaugural World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, Hungary.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF