Athletics-Welteji and Kessler set world records to win road mile titles

FILE PHOTO: Athletics - World Athletics Championship - Women's 1500m Final - National Athletics Centre, Budapest, Hungary - August 22, 2023 Silver medallist Ethiopia's Diribe Welteji reacts after the final REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel/File Photo

(Reuters) - Two road world records tumbled on Sunday when American Hobbs Kessler surged to victory in the men's mile and Ethiopia's Diribe Welteji beat Faith Kipyegon in the women's race at the inaugural Road Running Championships in Riga.

Kessler won the men's race with a time of 3:56.13, finishing ahead of Britain's Callum Elson and compatriot Sam Prakel, shaving five seconds off the previous record set by Prakel in April.

"I am fit, I wanted nothing but the win, so I went for it," Kessler said.

" I would say the road mile is a very American event -- Sam (Prakel) and I are very experienced in the event, possibly running the mile maybe 10 times this year -- and I am very proud of Sam and very proud of myself."

Earlier on Sunday, Welteji reeled in Kenyan two-time Olympic gold medallist Kipyegon, finishing with a time of 4:20.98.

The previous world record of 4:27.97 was held by Nikki Hiltz of the United States.

"I came here to win, to write the history and to motivate the new generations of our athletes," said Welteji, who won silver in the 1,500 metres at the World Championships in August.

"When I approached the last stretch of the course and saw the finish line, that was the time when I decided to challenge Kipyegon's leading position... I had the feeling that Kipyegon would be a bit tired, so I believed it was possible to beat her today."

The road mile was made an official world record discipline on Sept. 1.

The outright men's record for the mile is 3:43.13, set by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999. The women's record of 4:07.64 was set by Kipyegon earlier this year.

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)

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