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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

World record falls and Olympic champions clash at New Balance Grand Prix in Boston

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Femke Bol, who set a record for her 500-meter run, is pictured.

In a weekend of sub-zero temperatures, the New Balance Grand Prix returned to Boston for the first time since 2020. 

The Grand Prix was the first professional track and field meet held at the TRACK at new balance facility with almost 5,000 spectators in attendance at the sold-out event.

In her first time ever running the 500-meter, Dutch runner Femke Bol broke the 17-year-old indoor world record. The new mark of 1:05.6 was six-tenths of a second faster than the previous record of 1:06.3 set by the Russian Olesya Krasnomovets in 2006.

“I’m just super happy to have it worked out like this,” Bol said after setting the new world record. “It’s been my first time coming for a meet in the U.S. … The audience has also been amazing, they really helped me so much today.”

Bol primarily specializes in the 400-meter hurdles and 400-meters, winning an Olympic bronze medal in the 400-meter hurdles in 2021.

Over at the field events, the women’s pole vault featured a highly anticipated matchup between the 2020 Olympic gold medalist Katie Moon (née Nageotte) of the United States and the 2016 Olympic gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece.

In the end, however, neither prevailed, with Bridget Williams of the United States taking first with 15’7 ¾”, a personal best.

“Anytime I am competing without my coach from home, and I do well, it’s amazing,” Williams told the press pool. “This was our goal: to build consistency and to be executing it.”

Katie Moon finished fourth with a mark of 14’7 ¼”, over a foot and a half below her personal best of 16’2”.

In an interview with the Daily, the 2020 Olympic gold medalist was positive despite a disappointing performance.

“Obviously, on paper, it doesn’t look like I jumped very high,” Moon said. “I was just rusty, … but I also knew that the feedback that I would get from today would make it worth it.” 

American Gabriella Leon finished second with a personal best of 14’11”, ahead of Stefanidi, who finished in third. Emily Grove, also from the United States, finished in fifth behind Moon with a jump of 14’7 ¼” .

“[The meet] was a little bit rusty, but I’m okay with that,” Grove said in an interview with the Daily. “I was kind of just focusing on technical stuff, and I feel like I executed how I wanted to.” 

“The crowd was amazing,” Kristen Brown of the United States said after jumping a season best of 14’1 ¼” . “We had some great jumps out there, the energy was really good.”

Jenn Suhr, who currently holds the indoor pole vaulting record of 16’6”, was in the front row of the spectators, supporting her former competitors.

In the distance events, two national records fell in the women’s mile. 

Esther Guerrero broke the Spanish national record with a time of 4:24.92, while Nozomi Tanaka broke the Japanese national record in 4:28.94. Peabody, Mass. native Heather MacLean of the United States won the event with a world lead of 4:23.42.

In the men’s mile, Neil Gourley of Great Britain won in world-leading time and personal best of 3:52.84. Gourley beat second place Sam Tanner of Australia by just a hundredth of a second.

“I left [the kick] for far too late, but I just had enough to close on [Tanner],” Gourley said.

American Woody Kincaid won the men’s 3k with a personal best of 7:40.71.

“[It was a] brand new track, and I wanted it to be a good night,” Kincaid said following his race.

Darragh McElhinney of Ireland also set a personal best in the 3k with a 7:45.79 effort, though he was not satisfied with this result.

“I would’ve liked it to be quicker, because obviously I’m trying to get the European standard [in the 3k], … but it ended up being a bit slow and it was a bit frustrating,” McElhinney said.

First and second place in the men’s 60-meter was separated by just two thousands of a second, with Noah Lyles edging out his fellow American Treyvon Bromell in a personal best of 6.51 seconds.

“I was shocked when they said that it was going to be sold out,” Lyles said after his race. “To be honest, you don’t usually see sold out stadiums in the U.S.”

On Feb. 11, many of the athletes head to the Millrose Games at the Armory in New York City.