Orlando Ortega winning at the 2016 Dusseldorf indoor meeting (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
There were no fewer than five world-leading marks at the PSD Bank Indoor Meeting in Dusseldorf, but there is no doubt that the pick of the crop was Orlando Ortega’s brace in the 60m hurdles on Wednesday night (3).
Ortega, a Spanish citizen since September, sped to his first world-leading time in the German city when he clocked 7.54 in his heat. Although he had to work hard in the final to hold off France’s Dimitri Bascou in the lane to his right, he was in front from the second barrier and stopped the clock in a Spanish record 7.49, with the European indoor silver medallist 0.03 in arrears.
No one has run faster than 7.40 for the event since USA's David Oliver clocked 7.37 five years ago but this is one of Ortega’s aims this winter.
“Firstly, I want to break my personal best of 7.45, which I set last year and then I want to go as fast as possible,” said the beaming 24-year-old hurdler, who is coached by his father who has exactly the same name.
“I was very happy with my race today, technically it was good and my confidence was strong after my heat but I know I can go faster. I’m in a good place now, my living conditions are good, my training is going well, I’m happy generally,” added Ortega, who is based in Madrid’s High Performance Centre.
“The only downside is Madrid is a long way from the beach and I love the beach, but otherwise I couldn’t be happier,” he joked.
Only a slight smile for Spanovic
By contrast, Ivana Spanovic was almost a picture of disappointment despite leaping out to a world-leading 6.79m in the third round.
“I’m not happy because I was expecting so much more after my warm up. In the competition itself, I got far too excited and I was rushing my run up," lamented the Serbian.
"This winter I will alternate, one week sprinting, another jumping. So last week I was sprinting in my home city of Novi Sad, this weekend I will be sprinting again and then my next long jump competition will be in Stockholm (at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting there on 17 February),” she added.
In her first long jump competition of the year, the world bronze medallist actually had to come from behind after Germany’s 21-year-old Alexandra Wester added 13 centimetres to her best, indoors or out, with a stunning second-round effort of 6.72m.
However, neither Wester nor anyone else could challenge Spanovic once she had got in front. For good measure, she finished with 6.77m in the sixth round.
Kenyan runners Elijah Manangoi and Augustine Choge added world-leading marks in the men’s 1500m and 3000m respectively.
After pacemaker Nicholas Kipkoech had taken a sometimes reluctant field through to 1100 metres before stepping aside, world silver medallist Manangoi held off his Kenyan compatriot Bethwell Birgen over a ferocious last lap to win in a world-leading 3:39.77.
Choge had recently demonstrated that he was back from the injury problems which bedevilled him in 2015 with a strong performance at the Kenyan Police Cross Country Championships, where he finished second, and he looked sharp in his first indoor outing of the year when winning in 7:39.23.
The pace dropped over the penultimate lap as the six runners still effectively in contention steeled themselves for the battle from the bell, but the experienced Choge got himself in exactly the right position to attack with 100 metres to go and even had the luxury of easing up 10 metres before the line.
World indoor 3000m champion Caleb Ndiku finished second in 7:39.62 but was, in truth, well beaten by Choge.
Kim Collins, 39, again defied Father Time and equalled the 60m world lead when he stopped the clock in 6.53, a clear 0.06 ahead of US sprinter Joe Morris.
Swoboda shows prodigious sprint talent
At the other end of the age spectrum, and more than half the age of the evergreen Collins, Poland’s Ewa Swoboda arrived in Dusseldorf fresh from her national record of 7.13 in Luxembourg on Saturday. Here she went close to that mark when she won the women’s 60m in 7.16, having looked the class act of the event in the heats when she clocked the fastest time of 7.19.
Another Polish win went to two-time European indoor 800m champion Adam Kszczot who front-ran his way to a win over four laps of the track in 1:46.00, the equal second-fastest time of the year.
With such a plethora of outstanding marks, by contrast one event notably failed to live up to expectations.
Four men remained in the pole vault at 5.70m, including Greece’s world indoor champion Konstadinos Filippidis and Canada’s world champion Shawn Barber. But no one could negotiate that height and victory went to Filippidis on countback at 5.60m, with Barber second having cleared the same height but needing second attempts all the way through the competition.
After three successive indoor wins in January, the streak of 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe came to an end when he couldn’t clear his opening height of 5.60m.
In an entertaining women’s 60m hurdles final, two-time European indoor champion Alina Talay from Belarus just held off local star and world silver medallist Cindy Roleder, the pair timed at 8.00 and 8.01 respectively.
Jenny Elbe, the World University Games triple jump silver medallist, produced an indoor personal best of 14.12m in the fifth round to edge out her German compatriot Kristin Gierisch.
Gierisch had led with her fourth-round 14.07m, the first jump beyond 14 metres in an otherwise modest contest, before Elbe responded one round later. Gierisch improved to 14.10m with her final effort but it was not quite enough.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF