Ethiopians Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar were within seconds of the World indoor records in the 5000m and 3000m, respectively, at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games Saturday evening (27). The meet, at which Dibaba set the 5000m record last year, also saw world leading performances in the men's 60m, Shot Put, and 1000m, while Craig Mottram and Sileshi Sihine duelled in a competitive Two Miles.
World 5000m and 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba was in sight of her own world record for most of the women's 5000m, but the mark slipped away as she ran solo in the closing laps. Dibaba ended happy with the final result of 14:35.46, but without a record. "It was a fast-paced race," Dibaba said afterward, "but somehow I couldn't make it (to the record). I think I ran well, I thought I was on record pace."
Dibaba, IAAF World Ranked number one for her events, followed pacemaker Mardrea Hyman through the first two kilometres, reached in 2:54 and 5:53, respectively. When Hyman moved out of lane one, Dibaba struck out on her own. Her elder sister Ejegayehu, the Olympic silver and World 10,000m bronze medallist, attempted to help with the pace, but with twelve laps remaining Tirunesh was on her own.
Dibaba expanded, "With two laps to go, I knew I couldn't make it," but the crowd didn't share that opinion, seeing her split of 13:31 with two laps remaining. They roared as she launched into her closing sprint, eventually finishing with a 30.2-second final lap. Sister Ejegayehu was lapped with the rest of the field, and finished 43 seconds back. "Next, I would like a fast time for 3000m in Birmingham," said Tirunesh.
Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar left Boston last year with the second-fastest mark on the all-time list, and hoped to put up a record this year. While she didn't encounter the heavy traffic of lapped runners which broke her stride last year, the early going may have been tougher. "I believe the pacemaker was not very consistent," said Defar. "When she stepped off, we had to make up time."
Indeed, Kenia Sinclair's opening laps were so fast she opened a gap on Defar and almost dropped Sentayehu Ejigu. After running 400m in 1:07, Sinclair slowed to 1:10 for the next 400 before finally finding a steady pace. When Sinclair stepped off with seven laps remaining, Defar was nearly five seconds off record pace. She fought to make it back up, but with two laps remaining, Defar needed to run under 1:01 to match the record, and she simply didn't have that much sprint remaining. Her 8:30.94 stands as the third fastest all-time, behind her mark from last year and Berhane Adere's 8:29.15 World indoor record.
"I was prepared to get the record, and I am disappointed, though I am happy with winning and the time." Defar said after the race. "I'll get (the record) next time." She suggested that she might try for the record in Stuttgart or Birmingham.
Mottram's Commonwealth read-through
It is too early for anyone to be trying dress rehearsals for the Commonwealth Games, but Australian Craig "Buster" Mottram's 8:26.54 Two Miles victory over Ethiopia's multiple global 10,000m medallist Sileshi Sihine (8:27.03) and a loaded field was unquestionably part of his preparations for the Games, to take place within a kilometre of his Melbourne home in March. The field, including European Indoor 3000m champion Alistair Cragg (8:27.39), and Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele (8:27.56) included as many potential winners as a good championship final, and developed much the same way.
While pacemaker Geoffrey Rono tore through an incredible 1:55 800m and 2:59 1200m, Mottram, Bekele, Cragg, and Sihine took turns in the lead, as much as seventeen seconds off Rono's scorching pace. It was Cragg who started anticipating the closing moves with small surges to test the others, and with three laps remaining he began defending the lead aggressively, sprinting down the straightaways to discourage moves from his pursuers. This worked through the bell, but with 100m remaining Sihine bolted for home, and Mottram covered the move instantly.
The pair arrived in the homestretch together, and Mottram's speed turned out to be superior as he pulled away in the last 50m for the win. "It's the start of my Commonwealth Games season," Mottram said. "I didn't want to start on a bad note. And I didn't fly 24 hours here to not win."
Hoffa upsets Nelson
Reese Hoffa toppled World champion Adam Nelson to win the Shot Put in a world indoor leading 21.07m. Christian Cantwell also bested Nelson (20.99m) with his final throw (21.03m). Nelson's first fair throw, in the second round, was also his best, just a centimetre off the 21.00m Hoffa heaved in the second round. When Hoffa improved to 21.07 in the third round, he had the win sewn up, though Cantwell came close with his last and best pitch.
Terrence Trammell shook off distraction to cruise to a world-leading 6.57 victory in the 60m dash, ahead of last year's winner, Jason Smoots (6.62). Trammell, noting that one of the other athletes twitched in the blocks just before the start, said, "It might have thrown me off, but I've learned my lesson about not moving. Still, I'm happy to come through with the win.
David Krummenacker, 2003 World Indoor champion at 800m, took the 1000m lead from occasional training partner Berhanu Alemu (ETH) with an unorthodox move: he passed Alemu on the inside with 100m remaining.
"I took a page out of Rich Kenah's book," said Krummenacker, referring to the 800m runner, now working for the meet management, who won two World Championship bronze medals (1997 indoors and outdoors) by taking advantage of inside lanes opening up late in the race. "You can't pull it off that often," noted Krummenacker. "But it's good to start the year off with a win." Krummenacker's 2:21.37 leads the short 1000m list for the year.
Me'Lisa Barber took the women's 60m in 7.09, just .01 off the world lead and the fastest yet for Barber. Hearing where her mark stood, Barber joked, "I'll get (the world leader) next time."
IAAF World Ranked number one 400m Hurdler Sanya Richards, won the women's 400m in 52.10, but admitted, "I was hoping to run a bit faster. I eased up maybe a bit too much on the third turn. It's only my second time in spikes all year."
Dee Dee Trotter won the women's 200m in 23.62. Also running her first race of the year, she observed, "My coach didn't want me doing anything crazy. I don't think she expected me to win it."
Carmen Douma-Hussar won the women's Mile in 4:29.52. "I'm learning from the master of the indoor mile," she said about coach Marcus O'Sullivan. Douma-Hussar will not be headed to Moscow to attempt to improve on the silver medal she won in 2004, instead heading to Melbourne to represent Canada at the Commonwealth Games. "It's exciting to have a major outdoor championships like this to train for," she said, "but I'm disappointed to miss the World Indoors."
A more unusual race was a 600m including 400m sprinters, intermediate hurdlers, and 800m runners. World 400m Hurdles champion Bershawn Jackson set an aggressive pace, but was shadowed by former U.S. 800m champion Jonathon Johnson. The two battled to the line, where Johnson's lean was just enough better than Jackson's to take the victory, 1:18.63 to 1:18.65.
World silver medallist Chaunte Howard won the women's High Jump with a 1.95m leap, and Elkanah Angwenyi won the men's Mile in 3:55.95.
Parker Morse for the IAAF
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