Donavan Brazier on his way to winning the 800m at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Boston (© PhotoRun)
Donavan Brazier came a little closer to the sub-1:45 mark in the 800m, Edward Cheserek ran the second half of a remarkable two-day double, and Christian Coleman continued his utter domination of the US 60m season on Saturday (10) at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, the fourth stop on the IAAF World Indoor Tour.
The theme, if there was one, was winning from the front.
Brazier admitted in the pre-meet press conference that he’d thought the 50-second pacing target for 400m a little aggressive at last week’s Millrose Games, but after following through with a 1:45.35 PB, he had some cause to rethink that.
Tonight, the pacemaker led world indoor champion Boris Berian (50.28) and Brazier (50.68) through 400m in almost the same split before stepping off. Berian, returning from an injury-shortened 2017, soon found the limits of his returning fitness, and Brazier took over at the bell.
Brazier didn’t let up, even though Berian was now effectively going backwards. He dug in to complete the fourth and final lap a little faster than the third to shave a few more fractions of a second off his indoor PB, running 1:45.11. He didn’t appear to be struggling and held his form until relaxing slightly a few steps before the line. His mark represents the fastest indoor time run by a US runner since 1992 – six years before Brazier was born.
“I'm excited and a little disappointed [to] miss the American record for the second week in a row,” said Brazier of Johnny Gray’s 1:45.00 North American record. “But I'll take what I can get, it's just indoor season. I was happy because it was a steep field, so just competing today was the main goal and coming in first.”
Berian, for his part, slid to 1:50.17 for seventh, and suggested afterwards that this might be both the beginning and the end of his indoor campaign; instead of pursuing the indoor season, he might return to altitude and resume training for outdoors.
Coleman gun to tape
Christian Coleman was ahead from the gun and won a commanding 60m victory in 6.46, ahead of Xie Zhenye in 6.54. Zhenye was second for the second consecutive year at this meeting. Noah Lyles, who had suggested the only place to beat Coleman was at the start, took third in a PB of 6.57.
“The crowd showed up and they were amazing,” said Coleman. “When you have a lot of people here, the fans charge you up and they're screaming loads and cheering, that really gets you up and going.”
Coleman’s reaction time was solidly in the middle of all the entrants but his velocity out of the blocks was visibly superior, and he put daylight between himself and his pursuers by halfway down the track. This dominant victory, together with his eye-opening 6.37 clocking last month, put him on a course to tangle with Su Bingtian in Birmingham in just a few weeks.
Cheserek the King
Collegiate athletics in the USA can often be a sport of multiple races in a short timespan as athletes stack up points for their team, but few athletes at the professional level attempt a double like the one Edward Cheserek took on here in Boston.
After running a 3:49.44 mile (the second fastest in history indoors) last night at Boston University, Cheserek crossed the city to enter the 3000m here, competing with the likes of Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet, both previous winners of this event. (Gebrhiwet still holds the meeting record.)
It turned out 24 hours of recovery was no big deal for Cheserek. The early going was not taxing – Adel Mechaal actually held a four-second advantage over the trio of Cheserek, Gebremeskel and Gebrhiwet with four laps remaining – but just as the crowd was beginning to wonder if Mechaal might get away with a heist of epic proportions, ‘Ches’ put the hammer down and simply ran away from the two Ethiopians, blowing past Mechaal in the process.
Cheserek’s winning time was 7:38.74, with Gebrhiwet (7:41.79) and Gebremeskel (7:42.78) also finding their way past Mechaal (7:44.31).
“I kept looking back,” said Cheserek. “I knew I had something left over and I saved it for the last three laps.”
Jenny Simpson admitted that she felt, for the first time, “a tiny twinge of guilt” as she let world steeplechase champion Emma Coburn set the pace in the women’s 3000m. But with a column of pursuers including Fotyen Tesfaye, Steph Twell and Genevieve Lalonde close behind her, Simpson opted for caution, and when she finally did move to the front it was decisive.
Simpson won in 8:40.31 with Tesfaye second in 8:41.08 and Twell third in 8:41.94; all three were PBs. Coburn was fourth in 8:43.57 and Lalonde, in fifth, set an outright PB of 8:49.78.
Sharika Nelvis won the battle of the top-ranked 60m hurdlers, kicking off the meeting with a 7.89. Nelvis bested Christina Manning (also recorded as 7.89) by thousandths of a second, 7.881 to 7.888, with almost all of that coming in reaction time; Nelvis’s reaction to the gun was .016 faster than Manning’s. Jasmin Stowers (7.98) took third.
“I really don’t know what happened,” Nelvis admitted afterwards.
Dawit Seyaum appeared almost shocked awake by a late-race pass from Jamaica’s Aisha Praught-Leer in the women’s 1500m, scrambling to a 4:04.38 victory to Praught-Leer’s Caribbean indoor record of 4:04.95.
Chris O’Hare ran a meeting record 3:37.03 in the men’s 1500m, closing strong with fellow Briton Jake Wightman on his heels. The previous record of 3:38.15 was run by Bernard Lagat in 2003.
Jenna Westaway made her case for selection to Canada’s team for the World Indoor Championships by running a PB of 2:01.22 almost entirely from the front to win the women’s 800m. Westaway was at the front when pacemaker Marisa Turner stepped off after 500m, and simply opened a progressively wider gap on Lyndsey Sharp.
USA’s Raevyn Rogers (2:01.73) and Charlene Lipsey (2:02.05) overtook Sharp on the homestretch for second and third, respectively.
“I knew if I could take control and lay it all on the line, something good will come of it,” explained Westaway.
There may have been bigger names in the women’s 400m field but it was Shakima Wimbley who got to the break line first and held on for the win, crossing the line in 51.82.
"I just wanted to make a name for myself,” said Wimbley. “Show that I can compete with the best, and be confident and strong.”
World champion Phyllis Francis challenged Wimbley on the final lap but couldn’t draw up on her shoulder, finishing second in 52.38.
Erika Kinsey won the women’s high jump with a 1.91m clearance on her third attempt. Doreen Amata and Alyxandria Treasure attempted the height with her, but couldn’t get a clearance; Amata was awarded second place on fewer earlier misses.
Chris Carter won the men’s triple jump by reaching 16.67m twice, on his third and fourth attempts.
Noah Lyle’s younger brother Josephus was disqualified for a false start in the men’s 400m, after which Trinidad and Tobago’s Deon Lendore got first to the break and ran away for the victory in 46.25.
Just moments later, Lendore’s compatriot Jereem Richards won the 300m in a national record of 32.10, moving him to seventh on the world indoor all-time list.
Parker Morse for the IAAF