Kurt Roberts at the 2016 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix meeting in Boston (© Andrew McClanahan)
Kurt Roberts put up a world-leading shot put mark of 21.57m, a personal best, with the last attempt of the competition to provide the highlight of the field events at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, the second IAAF World Indoor Tour event of the year, on Sunday (14).
Roberts defeated 2007 world champion Reese Hoffa, who reached a respectable 21.02m, and Poland’s two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski, who continues to struggle to find anything approaching his best form this winter and could only manage 20.14m for third place.
Roberts led by a full metre over Majewski in the first round, with a 21.15m first attempt, but kept extending his lead, reaching 21.30m in the third round before his sixth-round blast. Hoffa opened at 19.90m and carried on improving with five of his six attempts, reaching his best mark in the final round.
Roberts was elated with the win, calling the facility “unbelievable”.
“It feels good to come out and PR,” he added. “It sets me up well for the big picture.” Roberts hopes to earn a spot at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 next month, and he now stands even with Canada’s Tim Nedow atop the IAAF World Indoor Tour standings.
Shawn Barber didn’t win his event but took over the tour lead in the pole vault by finishing second behind USA’s Sam Kendricks.
Kendricks cleared 5.77m on his second attempt, but Barber couldn’t get over after both vaulters bettered 5.67m on their first tries. Down the list, Ashton Eaton cleared an indoor PB of 5.40m for fifth place.
Suhr takes a tilt at another record
Jenn Suhr, who vaulted a world record 5.03m two weeks ago, moved the women’s pole vault bar to 5.07m after clearing a winning height of 4.82m. Her first attempt was solid, but she reported afterwards: “I then switched to a heavier pole, and after that I felt like I was pushing so hard and getting nothing back from my legs.”
Suhr noted that the door was still open for her to participate at the World Indoor Championships; she hopes to persuade USA Track and Field to adjust the timetable of the national championships to give the vaulters more time between qualifying there and the opening of competition in Portland.
After his victory in Karlsruhe eight days ago, Mike Rodgers won his second World Indoor Tour race in the men’s 60m, running 6.53 to beat world bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell, who ran 6.57.
Rodgers described the race as, “A great start and great execution,” but suggested with a two-round structure rather than the straight final run here he might have gone even faster.
Rodgers ambitiously claimed the lofty goal of lowering Maurice Greene’s 6.39 world record as his goal for this season, saying 2016 is going to be his last indoor campaign, and he wants it to be memorable.
English Gardner won the women's 60m, not a tour event in 2016, in 7.15 with world long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta second in 7.20.
The women’s 60m hurdles went to 2013 world 100m hurdles champion Brianna Rollins in 7.87, to move up to second on the 2016 world list, with world indoor champion Nia Ali just .02 behind in 7.89.
Like Barber, Ali now takes over the World Indoor Tour lead with two second-place finishes.
Janay DeLoach, third in the 60m hurdles, was still recovering from winning the women’s long jump. She sealed the victory with her first and only legal jump of the night, reaching 6.63m in the first round and either fouling or passing her next five attempts.
Jasmine Simmons and Brianne Theisen-Eaton both jumped 6.34m, with Simmons having a better second mark.
“When you’re training, you’re slowing everything down,” Theisen-Eaton explained. “In competition everything speeds up. We call it the blur. I wanted to compete in all the (pentathlon) events before the World Indoor Championships to get used to the speed.”
US 300m record for Hastings
Like DeLoach, Thiesen-Eaton doubled back in the women’s 300m, finishing third in 37.47, but that race was more notable for the 36.25 victory by Natasha Hastings.
Hastings’ mark broke the US record previously held by Allyson Felix, and took Hastings somewhat by surprise.
“I had no expectations, and no time in mind,” she explained. “I’ve been taking a new approach this season, sprinting more and concentrating on my running mechanics. I didn’t know what I was going to run today. I’m figuring it out as I’m going.”
Vernon Norwood won the men’s 300m in 32.70 and, like Hastings, set a world-leading time in the rarely-run non-championship event.
Omar Craddock won the triple jump with a 16.82m in the last round. Craddock’s next two best leaps – 16.81m and 16.61m – would also have won.
Parker Morse for the IAAF