At the media conference on the eve of the athletics gala at Letzigrund Stadium, the meeting’s stars shared their thoughts about their competitions tomorrow.
Sifan Hassan (NED/1500m): After my triple at the Olympics in Tokyo, I needed some time for recovery. Even in the mile in Brussels, it was difficult for me to focus. But I’m okay, and I will do fine tomorrow. Faith Kipyegon is an amazing athlete. We always race together and push each other to the limit. At the moment, we have no idea where the race will end up in terms of time. I think the city centre idea is great. Whoever came up with this idea, is amazing.
Faith Kypyegon (KEN/1500 m): It really feels great to be back in Zurich. Running in Tokyo as a mother was great. I won my second gold medal for my daughter, literally. [On Sifan Hassan] We are always friends. We hope that the best athlete will win tomorrow. [On her training group in Kaptagat/Kenia] I’m doing the gym sessions with Eliud Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kamworor, my coach Patrick Sang is there, too. I hope to follow in the footsteps of Eliud in the future. I want to inspire young athletes at home – and my daughter.»
Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR/1500 m): [On the Olympic final] Going into that big achampionship race – I have been preparing for it most of my life. It was a dream come true.I have always kept improving, in training and races, which has been a big motivation for me. And I want to keep improving.I want to finish a good season with a good race. I am hoping for the best.[On choosing to run the 1500m] Why do long jumpers not choose to be in the high jump? I have not been downtown to watch the track yet. Changes [in venues] is a good thing. For now, we have to focus on what we have to do. Competition is really important. My goal is to stay competitive. When Timothy is competing, you know it is going to be a good race.[On being the third most popular athlete in Norway now] I do not know. I do not think that is a goal, as athletes. At the end of the day, we have our goals, to improve as athletes. It is a positive thing to be proud ofbeing in the top three.I have always had the same sort of goals, they change as you get faster. This season, I tried to win as many races as I can. I am here for tomorrow´s race, I feel good, I want to keep performing as I have been doing for the whole season.
Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN/1500m): I am very proud of my achievements in Tokyo. I’ve recovered well since then, and I hope to bring home my fourth back-to-back win here in Zurich.
Lea Sprunger (400m hurdles): Since the Olympics, I have really been enjoying every race, knowing that they are the last ones. Athlétissima was very special to me, there were a lot of emotions ,and I think that Zurich will be exactly the same. [On her retirement after next week’s meeting in Bellinzona]. In 2019, I took the decision to stop in 2021. That was the best decision that I’ve made, and I’m happy with it. [About her future] I’m going to start studying again and I will be involved in the Lausanne Diamond League meeting. So, I will still be close to the track.
Femke Bol (NED/400m hurdles): This season is a dream come true, I would have never expected to win a bronze medal and run the European record. We have a great team around us, they kept us motivated during the pandemic, made us keep the discipline. The hard work paid off this year. [On the difference between 400m hurdles and 400m flat] For me, it is easier to have the right pace with the hurdles, it is mentally really different. I like both a lot. [On whether a sub 52 is possible] I think, I will have to wait for next season. I was in my best shape in Tokyo. Tomorrow is going to be nice, with the crowd, etc. It is always nice to run against Sydney and Dalilah, but I will have other strong opponents tomorrow.
Karsten Warholm (NOR/400m hurdles): I’m looking forward to coming back to the 400m hurdles at Weltklasse Zürich. As a former decathlete, I like being in different events, and in doing so, I keep my inner child alive. I would love to try the 800m in the future. But for now, I’m better off doing one lap. Hurdles will stay my main event, it’s where I feel most comfortable. When you achieve all the things you have been dreaming of, there is an emptiness, because there is no goal for a moment. It is tougher to stay motivated. It’s a mental process, and you have to reboot the system. But because training is what I love most, I went back to it very quickly after the Games. That helped me. The race in Tokyo was perfect somehow, and I assume you don’t get that too often in a career. After Tokyo, I’ve sensed a lot of international attention.
Elaine Thompson-Herah (JAM/100 m): I have had a long season, so I do not want to get carried away. When the season ends, I can say ”Hurrah“.Being the fastest athlete alive, I have put in all the work, but I did not expect myself to do it. I surprised myself. Everybody goes on the track to compete, to do their best, to give a show, to inspire others. I am always excited, when I am on the track.Tomorrow´s race is important for me, I hope to give it my heart.[Which WR is easier to break, 100m or 200m] To be honest, I would say it is the 200m, because the 100m, you have to nail that.[On running twice tomorrow] I was thinking about it, I have been doubling the whole season, also at the Olympics. But now, I share.I have not been home to Jamaica yet.I have not been on the new Zurich track, I will train later today, at 5pm.[On aims for this year] These were aims that I had set not knowing that I would achieve them. I had an injury before the trials. Then, in Italy, I wrote down stuff that I wanted to achieve. Every day I wrote down new stuff. In Japan, my body was so different, I got anything I wanted to achieve.
Ajla Del Ponte (SUI/100m): This was my best season. It just makes me smile to compete with so many fast women around me and get inspired. It’s great to have athletes like that to look up to. [On the home crowd in Zurich] It’s really exciting. The stadium will be packed, there will be a really special atmosphere. [About her favourite meetings]: Can we mention the meetings in Switzerland [laughing]? [On the track in Tokyo] It was really bouncing, and it felt different to normal tracks. Let’s see what we can do on the new ”magic track” at Letzigrund Stadium.
Mujinga Kambundji (SUI/100m, 200m): The Olympic final was very special for us [Ajla Del Ponte and her]. Nobody expected to have two Swiss girls in the 100m final there. Weltklasse Zürich is always a highlight and very special to Swiss athletes. I’ve tested the new track in training, but I don’t know yet how fast it will really be.
Jason Joseph (SUI/110m hurdles): When I came back from the Olympics, I was heartbroken and so angry with myself because I didn’t deliver what I had expected. I just let this feeling carry me, fuel me, so that what happened in Tokyo wouldn’t happen again in the future. [About running in front of his home crowd at Weltklasse Zürich] I came here to perform. I really want to show people what I’m capable of, show the big athletes, the big names: I’m here. My time starts now. [About training during the pandemic] To be honest, everything stayed the same here in Switzerland, it didn’t affect my training programme. I was able to do what I had to do.
Andre De Grasse (CAN/100m, 200m): I finally put it all together for a great race in Tokyo. In Doha in 2019, I did not have a good start. Everything came together during this whole season, maybe it was good to have a little break in 2020, to reset my mind. I run my best, when there is a crowd. Before Tokyo, I struggled all season because there was no crowd. So, tomorrow night, it will feel good to run in front of a crowd. I look forward to it and hope to run a PB. [On the mentality of doubling] It just comes down to my training. I train on six days a week. On three days, I work on the 100m, and the other three days, I work on the 200m. It is also a mental thing. It makes me feel like I am doing something special. Being a father motivates me. Knowing that I have somebody depending on me. I do not do it for myself but for my family and I want to make them proud.
Yulimar Rojas (VEN/triple jump): Competing in the Olympic Games was incredible. It felt like flying – breaking the world record, winning a gold medal, and celebrating together with the entire world. The jump felt great, but it was not perfect. I know that I can jump even better. [On her form:] I look forward to competing in a Diamond League final event for the third time. I hope that I can give it my all and contribute to a great show.. [On her potential:)] My hop and jump are good; I focus on them during a competition. The step is not always that good. I will have to keep working on it.
Gianmarco Tamberi (ITA/High Jump): Sharing the Olympic gold medal was just magic, even more so because I was sharing it with a friend. We went through the last ten years together, I helped him through his injury, he helped me through my injury. In high jump and pole vault, we have this rule that you can decide whether you want to share or not. We felt, we could ruin the competition if we tried to go on.
It has been very difficult after Tokyo. The Italian team did so well, so there were a lot of celebrations. I wanted to share what happened to me, I wanted to share this story of coming back after my injury, and did not want to stay at home. I think, I am still in good form, let’s see tomorrow.
Armand Duplantis (SWE/Pole Vault): [On the pressure of being the favourite in Tokyo] It almost seems like you can only go there and lose. Leading up the Olympics, people saw me like such a favourite. For me, it was quite tough, those weeks. When the nerves were probably at the highestduring those weeks before the Olympics. I felt more comfortable in the qualification round, when I stepped on the track and saw the guys. I realized it was the Olympics, the biggest event, and the biggest stage I could be on. But it’s the same competition, the same guys as in the years before. So, I said to myself: I just have to do same I have been doing so far. [On the presence of his father in Zurich] My father will be present during tomorrow’s competition. It’s important to me. If you want to do things like a world record, the details become very, very critical. I love getting his opinion [he had not been there in Lausanne, Paris, and Brussels], especially when my head gets caught in the heat of the moment, in the heat of the competition.