Genzebe Dibaba after breaking the world indoor mile record at the Globen Galan in Stockholm (© Hasse Sjogren)
The Globen Galan – the third stop on the new IAAF World Indoor Tour – had three world record wishes and they all came true at the Ericsson Globe Arena on Wednesday (17).
Ayanleh Souleiman set a new mark over 1000m (2:14.20), 18-year-old Abdalelah Haroun produced a 500m world best time of 59.83 and, climactically, Genzebe Dibaba produced a stupendous breakthrough in the mile, clocking 4:13.31 to smash the 26-year-old record of 4:17.14 set by Romania’s Doina Melinte and finish less than a second away from the outdoor world record of 4:12.56 set by Svetlana Masterkova in 1996.
All three world record performers – strictly speaking, Haroun’s effort was a world best – are part of coach Jama Aden’s training group. He said afterwards that Dibaba, who was voted IAAF world athlete of the year in 2015 after winning the world 1500m title and breaking the world record, would definitely be making another attempt this season at Masterkova’s mark.
Dibaba’s effort was always likely to be a race against the clock following the late withdrawal of Sweden’s world indoor 1500m champion Abeba Aregawi because of a back problem.
The 25-year-old Ethiopian was paced through to 800m in 2:05.69 by Poland’s Joanna Jozwik, who leads this year’s list with 2:00.12, before setting out on the long lonely route home which is becoming an increasingly familiar one to her.
En route, she missed her own world indoor 1500m record of 3:55.71 by less than a second, clocking 3:56.46. But as she crossed the line in 4:13.31, a smile lit her face.
“The pacing was perfect for me,” she said. “I know this track well, and it is very good for me. The only thing that was difficult was the conditions in the arena – it felt very cold.” As if to make her point, she then relapsed into a fit of coughing.
“I am very happy with this record. And I think I will be able to run even faster this season,” added Dibaba, who will race over 3000m in the Spanish city of Sabadell on Friday.
Thus, in a single night, the world record total of the Globen Galan meeting moved from 16 to 19.
World junior champion Gudad Tsegay was a distant second in 4:24.98, the third-fastest time ever by a junior. World indoor silver medallist Axumawit Embaye made it a 1-2-3 for Ethiopia, finishing third in 4:27.75.
Souleiman, world indoor champion at 1500m, claimed his first world record here as he ran 2:14.20 to break the 1000m mark which has stood since 2000 to Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer, who ran 2:14.96.
The exuberant 23-year-old Djiboutian said afterwards that he already knew the record was his for the taking after he reached 800m in 1:46.97.
He duly stepped up – and out – to take it, pushing on alone over the final lap, his normally sunny face contorting into a grimace of effort as he pushed for the line before transforming back to the relaxed character who likes to celebrate his track successes with some shadow boxing for the cameras.
Souleiman was bobbing and weaving as the significance of his achievement sank in, before the donation of a gift box and a large bouquet of yellow and red tulips cramped his style.
Praising the pacemaker Bram Som, who led him through to 600m in 1:19, Souleiman said: “He did a good job. That was the pace I wanted. After that I knew I had to work – but I knew I was ready.
“After I passed 800m in 1:46, I knew I would have the record.
“This is my first world record, and I am very happy. I want to thank my coach, Jama Aden, for working so hard with me.
“Now I am looking forward to defending my world indoor 1500m title in Portland.”
At which point he stepped away to follow the fortunes of the other two members of his group still to make their attempts on world records.
Second place in the 1000m went to Thijmen Kupers of the Netherlands in a personal best of 2:17.02 as he passed Elijah Manangoi just before the line, with the Kenyan clocking 2:17.09.
Haroun, who is still a junior, was targeting the world indoor 500m mark of 1:00.09 set last year by Brycen Spratling.
The burly Haroun made an unexpected breakthrough in Stockholm last year in setting an Asian indoor record of 45.39 in the B race, almost a second faster than the winning time of world indoor champion Pavel Maslak in the A race.
This time he assumed centre stage, and although the effort looked excruciating, and his head was rocking all the way down the home straight, he forced himself over the line inside his target time. To say he looks a fabulous prospect may be underplaying it.
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF