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Samuel Tefera breaks El Guerrouj’s 1,500m world indoor record at age 19

Kejelcha narrowly misses his second world record in a week as the reigning world indoor champion surges to victory and a new WR in Birmingham

Samuel Tefera, the 19-year-old world indoor 1,500m champion from Ethiopia, broke Hicham El Guerrouj‘s world record in the indoor 1,500m at the IAAF World Indoor Tour in Birmingham, UK yesterday. With 200m to go, Tefera blazed past his countryman Yomif Kejelcha, 21, who missed breaking the mile record at last week’s Millrose Games by one hundredth of a second, stopping the clock at 3:31.04, 14 hundredths of a second quicker than El Guerrouj’s mark of 3:31.18 set in Stuttgart in 1997.

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Pacer Bram Som, the Dutch national record-holder in the 800m, did an excellent job of stretching out the pack, pulling Kejelcha into the leading position, with Tefera tucked in behind him from the get-go. The only other runner within striking distance was Australia’s Stewart McSweyn, whose 3:35.10 finish set a new national record. At the 1K mark (2:21.27) pacer Jordy Williamsz stepped aside, allowing Kejelcha to immediately pick up the pace, pulling Tefera along with him and widening the gap between them and McSweyn. With 200m to go, Tefera made his move, surging past Kejelcha to take and hold the lead through the final stretch.

Once finished, it wasn’t clear whether Tefera knew he had broken the record, only that he had successfully beaten Kejelcha, whose new personal best of 3:31.58 would be small consolation after missing two world records in the space of a week. 

Tefera’s previous personal best, set just 10 days ago at the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, was 3:35.57.