If you are not familiar with the name Niels Laros, it’s OK. This 17-year-old rising middle-distance star from the Netherlands will be a household name in the sport soon enough.
Laros pulled off the 1,500m/3,000m double gold at the European Athletics U18 Championships earlier this summer, breaking both the U18 European 1,500m and 3,000m records, previously held by Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen.
On Sunday evening at a small World Athletics Continental Tour meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, Laros ran a 16-second personal best in the 3,000m, breaking the previous record of 7:56.40 held by East Germany’s Hansjörg Kunze, which stood for 47 years.
Two years ago, Laros’s personal bests were fast but earth-shaking (4:00-flat over 1,500m and 8:51 in the 3,000m), but he has since shattered his records, bringing his 1,500m time down to 3:39.46 and 7:48.25 over 3,000m.
Laros already has a faster 800m PB than Ingebrigtsen, which he recently clocked at 1:46.30, plus he has beaten Ingebrigtsen’s previous U18 times in the 1,500m and 3,000m. Ingebrigtsen had U18 bests of 3:39.92 for 1,500m, 8:00.01 for 3,000m and 13:35.84 over 5,000m.
As of next April, Laros will move up into the U20 ranks, and looks poised to be one of the biggest stars in the sport of athletics in years to come. He’s even already signed a professional contract with Nike.
Although Ingebrigtsen and Laros have never raced each other, track fans will relish this matchup in the 1,500m at the Paris 2024 Olympics, when Laros is 19 and Ingebrigtsen is 23.