Mo Farah en route to his European indoor 5000m record in Birmingham (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Eight world leads, European 5000m record for Farah in Birmingham

Birmingham, UKThere was no World record for Abubaker Kaki in the men’s 1000m but his 2:17.76 was one of eight world leads at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham today (19) on an afternoon of pulsating athletics that climaxed with a European 5000m record by the indomitable Mo Farah.

Those were just two of five brilliant distance performances at the IAAF Indoor Permit meeting, which also included the top men’s and women’s 1500m of the year from Augustine Choge and Abeba Aregawi, and a superb women’s 3000m from Sentayehu Ejigu.

Choge won a thrilling 1500m from Derese Mekonnen in 3:33.23, Aregawi front ran to 4:03.28, and Ejigu ran away from a high class field with half the race still to go to clock 8:30.26.

There was also some impressive sprinting with world leads for Bianca Knight in the women’s 200m, for Michael Rodgers, who matched Kim Collins 6.50 in the men’s 60m, and for Sebastian Ernst who recorded an equal world lead in the men’s 200m.

There was also a near world best for Felix Sanchez who won an eventful 400m hurdles in 49.76.

Ejigu moves up to No. 4 all-time over 3000m

Ejigu produced the performance of the day as she strode away from the rest of the field to smash the previous world lead by 11 seconds in 8:30.26, the fourth fastest of all time by the Ethiopian world bronze medallist in her first race of the year.

Led through the first kilometre in 2:53.01 by Ireland’s Rose-Ann Galligan, Ejigu took up the running with 1500m remaining and simply stretched away from a chasing trio made up of Kenya’s Mercy Njoroge, her compatriot Kelkidan Gezahegn and Briton Helen Clitheroe.

She sped through 2000m 25 metres clear in 2:43.45 and hit the bell in 7:57.95 before powering home.

Gezahegne won the battle for second, smashing her PB by nine seconds in 8:37.47. Njoroge was third in 8:39.70, three seconds inside her best, and Clitheroe fourth in 8:39.81, the 37-year-old smashing her PB by some 11 seconds. There were also PBs for athletes in places six to nine.

Aregawi was almost as impressive in the 1500m as the 20-year-old ran away from her opponents with two laps to go and came home in 4:03.28, more than two seconds quicker than Yevgeniya Zolotova’s world lead.

Irene Jelagat was stretched to the limit by the powerful Ethiopian but still broke the Kenyan record in second as she clocked 4:06.90 with two Britons, Hannah England and Stacey Smith, recording PBs in third and fourth – 4:07.24 and 4:07.42.

Ingvil Makestad took advantage of the blistering pace to hang on for a Norwegian record of 4:09.17 in fifth.

Choge evens the score with Mekonnen

It was a case of sweet revenge for Choge in the men’s 1500m after he suffered defeat at Mekonnen’s hands at this meeting last year when the Ethiopian ran the fastest time of 2010, 3:33.10.

Choge had to be satisfied with second that day, but the Kenyan seemed determined not to let the same happen this time.

The pair were taken through 800m in 1:53.48 and 1200 in 2:37 before Mekonnen burst past the Kenyan with 300 metres left. He passed the bell in front, but Choge responded immediately, squeezing round the World indoor champion on the penultimate bend and racing away to win by five metres.

It was a personal best for the former Commonwealth 5000m champion.

“It felt really good, although I really wanted something more out there, I thought I could go a bit faster,” he said. “I’m really happy to have run my personal best, I’m happy I did that for the fans and everyone that made the meet here today.”

Mekonnen finished in 3:33.97 with a second Kenyan Bethwel Birgen in third, 3:37.07.

Behind them there were a string of PBs for athletes in places five to 10, including 3:38.17 for USA’s Russell Brown, 3:33.71 for Britain’s Colin McCourt, 3:39.16 for compatriot Andy Baddeley, and 3:40.69 for Nick McCormick – the last three inside UKA’s qualifying standard for the European Indoor Championships.

Kaki beats back Lalang’s challenge

Wilson Kipketer’s 11-year-old world 1000m mark proved just too good for Kaki, although the world indoor 800m champion won a tough battle with Boaz Lalang over the five laps.

After going through 600m in 1:19.88, it was Lalang who came by Kaki to lead at the bell. The Kenyan appeared to be pulling away down the back straight but the Sudanese champion attacked off the bend and sneaked past in 2:17.76, nearly three seconds outside the target of 2:14.96.

Kaki seemed happy enough, though. “The race was good,” he said. “It went well. Running here is very nice. I think I’m in good shape. I’m happy with it and it shows training is going well.”

Lalang’s compensation was a PB of 2:17.81 in second, while there were also PBs for Kenya’s Jackson Kivuva in third (2:18.46) and Briton Andrew Osagie in fourth (2:18.56) while Musaeb Balla broke the Qatari record in fifth with 2:21.71.

Bianca Knight produced the first world lead in the sprints as the 22-year-old dominated the one-lap race to win by 0.03s from her American compatriot Alexandria Anderson.

Knight, who holds the world junior best for this event, blasted away from the gun in lane five, was past Anderson by half way, and flew home in 22.89, 0.06s inside Jessica Beard’s world lead from 22 January.

“I was satisfied with the win but I did expect to run faster,” said Knight. “It’s my first 200m this year though so I am satisfied with the result and it sets me up for a great outdoor season.”

Anderson was second in 23.32, with Britain’s Joice Maduaka, in what may be her last indoor 200, third in 23.59.

Rodgers tops Collins and Clarke

Rodgers won his 60m battle with world numbers one and two, Kim Collins and Lerone Clarke, with a determined performance over the final 20m.

Collins and Clarke got out well and were neck and neck at half way, but the American held his form fractionally better than his opponents to break the line just three hundredths ahead of Collins with Clarke another one hundredth behind.

“That was pretty good,” said Rodgers. “I’m very pleased with the PB after only doing three or four days of blocks with my coach. My start was rubbish, though, because I haven’t been working on it much. Hopefully by the US championships I can run sub 6.50.”

Rodgers laid down the gauntlet in the first heat which he took in a sparkling 6.54 ahead of Clarke in 6.62. But that race saw the end of Briton’s Mark Lewis Francis who pulled up three metres from the line with a groin injury. Collins qualified with 6.62 a hundredth behind Burns who broke his PB in the final finishing fourth in 6.55.

Brian Mariano broke the Dutch record running 6.63 in fifth, but there was more bad luck for Britain’s sprint squad as Harry Aikines Areetey hurt a hamstring in the final finishing sixth in 6.65.

Ernst also equalled the world lead as he took the men’s 200m in 20.58. The powerful German powered past Rodgers from lane five and held off the fast finishing Briton Danny Talbot to match Kirani James’ Grenadian record.

“It was so close to the German record, but I'm still very happy,” said Ernst. “Mike Rodgers was very important for my race. He is such a good runner, he was pushing me all the way around the first 100m so the second 100m I could go out and do my own thing. He set the pace for me really.”

Sanchez takes dramatic 400m Hurdles win

If Ernst’s win was straightforward enough, Sanchez’s 400m hurdles win was nothing less than dramatic. The Dominican won in 49.76, missing his own world best by 0.03s as he tumbled across the line ahead of USA’s Reuben McCoy after hitting the last two hurdles. It was, to use the infield announcer’s phrase, a scene of “carnage”.

It was Yates who took the lead as the runners broke for the bell, but Sanchez fought back round the last bend with McCoy on his shoulder. Sanchez clatterred the penultimate barrier and virtually climbed through the final hurdle just a few metres from the finish line. His dip-come-forward roll was good enough to see him home with McCoy coming hard on his outside.

McCoy was timed at 49.78, a US record, while Richard Yates took the British record with 50.21 in third.

Farah caps meet with European 5000m record

If all that was tasty enough, the final course of the day was the sweetest of all for the British fans as Farah lived up to all the hype in the last event.

The 27-year-old announced yesterday that he is about to move to Oregon to work with Alberto Salazar in a bid to win a medal at the London 2012 Olympics. But the Somali-born Brit remains the favourite son of UK athletics and he had the crowd on its feet as he fought back over the last lap against his new training partner Galen Rupp to clock 13:10.60.

That was more than 10 seconds inside Nick Rose’s 29-year-old British record and half a second better Bob Tahri’s European mark from a year ago.

Farah, who took an extra $5,000 home for his record-breaking efforts, the 25th British record to fall in this arena, ran a sensible race, shadowing Rupp from 3k. He pushed on at 4k, passed in 10:36.00, but Rupp had plenty of running left and strode ahead to lead at the bell.

At first Farah seemed to be tiring but the Briton responded as the crowd noise rose. He took the lead down the back straight and sprinted away for the win.

Rupp was rewarded with a US record of 13:11.44, while Shadrack Korir was some way adrift in third. Rui Silva broke the Portuguese record in fourth, 13:41.93, and Gezachw Yossef set a new Israeli record in fifth, in 14:17.81.

“The crowd made a big difference,” said Farah. “It was a nice race for me with Galen. He’s my new training partner so I’m look forward to the next few months.

“We had a plan going into the race. We wanted to start off steady and work our way through – that was the aim.”

Meadows and Uceny sub-2:00 in 800m

Jenny Meadows was on course for her own British record in the women’s 800m but tired over the last 100 to clock 1:59.22, her first sub-2 minute time of the year. Morgan Uceny followed her home in 1:59.97, a PB for the American.

The meeting started well for British hopes when 400m man Richard Strachan won a ‘national’ run-off in 46.35, not only a PB but well inside the Paris qualifying time of 46.70 and second only to Frenchman Leslie Djhone in Europe this year. The 24-year-old led from the start and was chased home by Nick Leavey in 46.49, also inside the 46.70 qualifier and third quickest in Europe.

As if not to be outdone, new British champion Nigel Levine responded quickly in the international race by hacking nearly six tenths from his PB in 46.17, the fourth fastest in the world this year.

Like Strachen, Levine led from the gun and was chased home by Rabah Yousif, who broke the Sudanese record in second with 46.24. The American Calvin Smith was a strruggling third 46.76.

There was more great front running in the women’s two-lap race as Novlene Williams-Mills held off Shana Cox at the bell and pulled clear over the final bend to win comfortably in 51.87.

Cox was second in 52.32 while Britain’s Kelly Sotherton got her tactics wrong and finished adrift of the field in 53.70 some way short of the European qualifying mark set by UKA at 53.00.

Wells’ hurdling momentum continues

Kellie Wells confirmed her position as the world’s number on sprint hurdler with an emphatic win over Danielle Carruthers in 7.87. Wells was away superbly, leading from the first hurdle and improved her advantage down the straight before crossing the line with daylight to spare.

“It’s an amazing. I’ve been working so hard and to finally have a breakthrough this year is so good,” said Wells. “Today it was a little messy but it was a good start and good technique.”

Carruthers cruised home in second in 8.06 with two more Americans, Vonette Lewis and Nichole Denby third and fourth, both in 8.14.

David Oliver may have been missing from the men’s event but Aries Merritt proved US-hurdling supremacy as he won comfortably in 7.49, 0.09s ahead of Jeff Porter with Britain’s Andy Turner third in 7.61.

Merritt had dominated his heat, winning by two metres in 7.50, while Turner broke his season’s best in the second heat in 7.57. Turner responded brilliantly to a less than stunning start to ghost past Payne to his left.

There was another US victory for Gloria Asumnu in the women’s 60m as she just held off Britain’s Bernice Wilson to win in 7.25. Wilson clocked 7.26.

Idowu soars 17.57m

The men’s Triple Jump provided by far the best of the field event action as Phillips Idowu won a super scuffle with Christian Olsson.

Idowu took the lead in round one with 16.93m, but Olsson moved ahead in round three jumping 17.20m. Idowu responded in the fourth, going 6cm further, and finished with a flourishing 17.57m, only 7cm short of Teddy Tamgho’s world lead.

Mark Hollis won the men’s Pole Vault with a best clearance of 5.60m, the American beating Britain’s Luke Cutts and German Fabian Schulze on countback.

There was bad news for Steve Lewis, though. The British number one hurt his thumb when landing heavily after attempting 5.50 and was taken to hospital with a suspected fracture.

Sweden’s Michel Torneus won the long jump by 19cm from Ghana’s Ignisious Gaisah with a best of 7.97m, while Britain’s Tom Parsons came out on top of a low-key high jump with a best of 2.21m.

Matthew Brown for the IAAF

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