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40 Days To Go

25 JAN 2020

Boston (Reggie Lewis), MA, UNITED STATES

Deresse Mekonnen takes down a solid field in the Birmingham 1500m (Getty Images) © Copyright
Birmingham, UKThe injured Kenenisa Bekele may not have made it to Birmingham for the Aviva Grand Prix this afternoon, but the National Indoor Arena still witnessed distance running of the highest order from some world class Ethiopians alongside two top notch field events and a pair of scintillating sprint hurdles races.

When Bekele pulled out of the men’s 3000m with a tight calf on Friday the organisers of the penultimate IAAF Indoor Permit meeting of 2010 simply substituted the women’s two miles as the meeting’s climax and up stepped another Ethiopian to live up to top billing.

Dibaba turns back Cheruiyot in fast two-miler

The target for Tirunesh Dibaba was Meseret Defar’s world best of 9:06.26. That proved beyond her reach but the Olympic champion produced a stunning second mile to get within six seconds of her compatriot’s historic mark.

Dibaba clocked 9:12.23, the second quickest of all time, followed closely by Vivian Cheruiyot in 9:12.35 and Sentayehu Ejigu another 0.33s behind. Dibaba’s time was the fastest ever seen in the UK, while in fourth Jessica Augusto ran 9:19.39, a European indoor best and a Portuguese record. Lidia Chojecka in fifth broke the Polish record with 9:31.68, as eight of the 10 finishers set personal bests.

Ireland’s Kelly McNeice set the early pace before Cheruiyot took over. But as the leaders slipped behind Defar’s record pace Dibaba took it on. Having passed one mile in 4:41.2 she ran a full 10 seconds quicker for the second half (4:31.1), passing 3000m in 3:40.34 before kicking in a last 440 yards timed at 61.6.

Cheruiyot and Ejigu hung on to her tail but the Kenyan’s late burst over the final 50 metres was just a little too late.

Burka’s hot streak continues

Gelete Burka also moved into the all-time top ten as she won the women’s mile in 4:23.53, the ninth quickest ever, dragging her young compatriot Kakedan Gezahegn to a second World junior record in the space of a month.

Gezahegn, the World junior 1500m silver medallist, finished second behind Burka in 4:24.10, smashing a mark which has been on the record books for 30 years.

Burka, who passed 1500m in 4:06.90, was chased hard by Maryam Jamal but the Bahraini had to be satisfied with third in 4:24.71, her best time indoors. Norway’s Ingvill Makestad broke the Norwegian record in fifth (4:28.49), while all nine finishers set PBs.

Mekkonen leads host of 1500m PBs as well

It was a similar story in the men’s 1500m where Deresse Mekonnen moved to number five all-time as he improved his own world leading mark and broke the UK all-comers’ record with 3:33.10, a time that surprised even him. “To run 3:33 indoors, I can’t believe it,” he said.

Nor could some of those behind him, including Kenyans Augustine Choge and Gideon Gathimba, who set PBs of 3:33.74 and 3:35.40 in second and third. Bernard Lagat’s best of the year, 3:35.49, was good enough only for fourth, while Nick Willis in fifth broke the New Zealand record with 3:35.80.

Meadows thrills with 800m national record

There was much to cheer for the home crowd too as Jenny Meadows erased Kelly Holmes’ national record to win the 800m. The world bronze medallist powered away from the field on the third lap to win in 1:59.11 leaving Ukraine’s Yuliya Krevsun trailing in second in 2:00.36.

“Of course I am happy with the British record but I wish I had run 1:58,” said Meadows, who’s now second in the 2010 world rankings to Russia’s Yevgeniya Zinurova. She picked up a cheque for $5000 for the record.

Olsson’s comeback continues with world-leading 17.32m leap

There were records and world leading marks in the field events too as Christian Olsson returned to winning ways in the Triple Jump and Fabiana Murer leapt to equal third in the all-time list with a Brazilian record in the Pole Vault.

Olsson’s third round 17.32m was the furthest by any athlete this year, and his best since returning from injury, but it was only just good enough to win here as five men leapt beyond 17m and only seven centimetres separated first from fourth.

The Cubans, Yoandri Betanzos and David Giralt, were second and third, with 17.30m and 17.26m respectively, while Phillips Idowu’s best of the year, 17.25m, was only enough for fourth place.

“This means nothing towards the world championships,” said a smiling Olsson. “But it feels good for me right now.”

Another Brazilian record as confident Murer moves up to No. 3 all-time

Murer was rightly pleased with her performance too. After clearing 4.82m on her second attempt here, the Brazilian trails only Yelena Isinbayeva this year. She had a clean series at 4.50m, 4.60m and 4.72m, and also made three attempts at 4.90m, none of them close.

“I wanted to get 4.90 because then I would be second in the world,” she said referring to Isinbayeva’s world record of 5.00m. “Only one other person has done that and we know who that is. I am sure now I can jump higher.”

Significantly, it brought her victory over Svetlana Feofanova and World outdoor champion Anna Rogowska who were second and third respectively with bests of 4.72m, while Kate Dennison set a British record for the 11th time in her career.

Dennison finished fifth after clearing 4.60m on her second attempt. Catherine Larsasen also broke her national record, raising the Norwegian mark to 4.30m in eighth place.

Robles building momentum towards Doha

There were no records in the sprint hurdles but two impressive performances. Dayron Robles dominated the men’s in 7.44, 0.13s ahead of second-placed Petr Svoboda of Czech Republic, and Danielle Carruthers won the women’s. The American dipped ahead of Cuba’s Anay Tejeda by 0.01s to clock 7.95.

Robles was particularly pleased with his time, just a hundredth behind Terrence Trammell’s world leading run a week ago. “I am getting better and better with every race,” said the outdoor World record holder. “I am feeling very confident and I’m sure there’s more to come.”

The flat 60s were also quick, both won by Americans. Carmelita Jeter came from behind in the women’s to beat Laverne Jones by a hair’s breadth. Both clocked 7.06, with Chandra Sturrup running 7.20 for third. Michael Rodgers beat Daniel Bailey by 0.02s to win the men’s in 6.57, while Nick Smith was third in 6.60, a Scottish record.

David Gillick dominated the men’s 400m to win in 45.52, matching his own Irish record, while Rabah Yusuf was second in 46.24, a Sudanese record. Novlene Williams won the women’s two-lap race ahead of Christine Amertil in 52.03, a 2010 best for the Jamaican.

A tight calf caused by speed training prevented Bekele making an attempt on Daniel Komen’s world 3000m record, and in his absence Kenyan Sammy Mutahi held off Dejene Gebremeskel of Ethiopia to win in 7:44.58, with Saif Saaeed Shaheen third.

Yaroslav Rybakov showed his best form of the year to win the men’s High Jump. The Russian World champion leapt 2.31m on his third attempt after trailing the two Britons Samson Oni and Tom Parsons on countback due to one failure at 2.28m.

Naide Gomes also produced her best performance of the year to win the women’s Long Jump. The Portuguese leapt 6.69m top beat Cuba’s Yargelis Savigne by 14cm.

Matthew Brown for the IAAF

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