On a night that witnessed global athletics history as the Paris Diamond League took over the Olympic city with two world records, it was Australia’s Jessica Hull – a New South Wales Institute of Sport scholarship athlete – who emerged as an Olympic title contender when becoming the fifth fastest woman in history over 1500m.

Delivering a monumental breakthrough on the eve of the 2024 Olympic Games, Hull (coached by Simon Hull) raced to the fifth fastest time in history over 1500m, stopping the clock at 3:50.83 for second place to lower her former Australian and Oceania record of 3:55.97 by over five seconds.

Latching onto reigning Olympic and world champion Faith Kipyegon (KEN), who set a new world record of 3:49.04 in the process, Hull was rewarded for the most fearless run of her career – stamping herself as a genuine contender in Paris.

“It’s so fresh but I did just see the all-time list and to see my name in fifth is nuts!” exclaimed Hull. “The whole point of the way I have trained this year is to put myself in a position to medal in Paris. That goal doesn’t change, I just have to stay healthy and do it on the day that matters – August 10.

“I was a little kid with an Olympic dream and I grew up wanting to go to the Olympics. I didn’t think 3:55 would ever be possible, so to be thinking about breaking 3:50 now is insane.”

The Australian was the only athlete in the field of 13 to consider challenging Kipyegon, who has been widely considered unbeatable in recent years, with Hull only losing contact in the final 200m to assert herself in the Olympic conversation.

“Having grown up watching Faith and then competing against her on the circuit, I have always believed in what she was doing and to get so close to her today is mind-blowing. She was the first one to humanise these times for us girls,” Hull said. 

“I said to myself that I’m basically running a 1100m race today, and if I get further, then I get further.”

Fellow Australian Linden Hall (Ned Brophy-Williams) also produced the fastest run of her career, leading much of the chase as she claimed fourth place in the star-studded field with a time of 3:56.40.

After a month away from competition due to injury, high jumper Nicola Olyslagers (Matt Horsnell) silenced any doubts about her fitness with a 2.01m clearance in Paris, soaring to second place in a historic contest which saw Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR) set a new world record of 2.10m.

Continuing the theme of the night as another Australian could only be upstaged by a world record, Olyslagers – an NSWIS athlete – was left inspired as her longtime rivalry with the Ukrainian pushed the event to new heights.

“It wasn’t just Yaroslava’s victory, it was women’s high jump history which is all of our victory. Once you see somebody do it once, it opens the door,” Olyslagers said.

“She is an amazing competitor and friend, and to see her do that, she has given me the key to aim for. 2.10m is still the goal for me, so to see her do it inspires me even more. It doesn’t discredit or discount the work I’m doing; it just shows that it’s possible.”

2022 world champion – and NSWIS scholarship athlete – Eleanor Patterson (Alex Stewart) nailed a first-attempt clearance at 1.95m to sew up fifth place. 

While not a scoring event at the Paris Diamond League, the Men’s 3000m saw Stewart McSweyn (Nic Bideau) claw back towards career-best form with a front-running display to claim second place in 7:29.46, finishing behind back-to-back World Championships 5000m medallist Jacob Krop (KEN) in 7:28.83.

Glued to the back of the two pacemakers, the King Island product poured on the pressure with relentless 60-second lap splits, running a bold race with a significant lead which was whittled down by his Kenyan opponent over the final two laps.

Making his return after sustaining an ankle injury at the Australian Athletics Championships in April, pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall (Paul Burgess & James Fitzpatrick) worked back into proceedings with a first attempt clearance at 5.75m for sixth place, before retiring from the competition after one attempt at 5.85m – reporting healthy post-event.

The Diamond League continues in Monaco this week, with Hull and reigning world champion Nina Kennedy headlining Australian entries for the July 12 meeting.

Lachlan Moorhouse, Athletics Australia

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