Greg Rutherford leaps a UK indoor long jump record of 8.26m in Albuquerque (© Randy Miyazaki)
With little more than six months to go until the athletics programme gets underway in Rio de Janeiro, Olympic champion Greg Rutherford set an early season benchmark with his 2016 opener at a collegiate meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
After opening his series with a solid 7.96m, Rutherford soared beyond the eight-metre mark with his second jump of the competition. The Brit leapt out to 8.26m to claim the world lead and add eight centimetres to the national indoor record held by his long-time domestic rival Chris Tomlinson since 2008.
Rutherford, who has been training in Phoenix, Arizona in the off-season, fouled his third attempt before sitting out the remainder of the competition. His next event is likely to be the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix on 20 February, the fourth and last stop of the IAAF World Indoor Tour.
Olympic 110m hurdles champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt also made his comeback at this low-key meet.
The 30-year-old, who underwent a kidney transplant operation just four days after claiming a bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last summer, clocked 7.77 on his comeback race in the 60m hurdles.
Merritt hasn’t ruled out competing at the US Indoor Championships on 11-13 March where places on the team for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland will be up for grabs.
At the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, NCAA indoor champion Courtney Okolo clocked a world-leading 51.16 in the 400m, just 0.04 shy of her indoor PB. 2012 world junior champion Ashley Spencer was second in 51.56, her fastest indoor time for three years.
Haratyk sets world lead and Bukowiecki breaks junior record in Lodz
World junior champion Konrad Bukowiecki looked destined to claim the mantle of Poland’s best shot putter from Tomasz Majewski but the 18-year-old might have to wait a season or two for that accolade.
Michal Haratyk was virtually unknown at this stage of the season 12 months ago. He finished a lowly ninth at the 2015 Polish Indoor Championships with 18.44m but the 23-year-old has made phenomenal progress over the past few weeks.
Haratyk improved his lifetime best from 20.10m to 20.74m last weekend but four more PBs were to follow at the Pedro’s Cup in Lodz on Friday. After opening with 20.80m, Haratyk improved by one centimetre in the fourth round before soaring out to 21.10m with his penultimate effort.
In the last round, Haratyk capped off his breakthrough competition by claiming the world lead with 21.35m; not bad for a thrower who finished ninth with 18.71m at this competition last year.
Bukowiecki finished second to Haratyk and improved his European indoor junior record to 20.58m. His last-round throw was in excess of this record but he fell out of the front of the throwing circle.
Majewski had to settle for third with 20.09m in his first competition of the year.
Another Pole to excel on home soil was world indoor high jump champion Kamila Licwinko. The Pole equalled the world-leading mark of 1.97m before three attempts at 2.00m. Spanish veteran Ruth Beitia was second with 1.94m.
In the 60m, Yunier Perez joined Julian Reus and Kim Collins at the top of the world list with 6.53 while 18-year-old Ewa Swoboda claimed her third win against international competition in the space of a week in 7.15.
Fresh from victory in Dusseldorf in a Spanish record of 7.49, Orlando Ortega won the 60m hurdles again in 7.52 while Mutaz Essa Barshim cleared 2.29m to win the high jump on countback from Andriy Protsenko.
Felix opens season with 60m victory
Allyson Felix was made to work hard on her season’s debut at the fourth House of Track High Performance Meet in Portland on Friday.
Contesting her first 60m race in four years, the world 400m champion demonstrated her versatility once again by winning the shortest event on the programme in 7.24, the third-fastest time of her career.
Felix nudged out English Gardner by 0.01 while Jenna Prandini and Kimberlyn Duncan finished third and fourth in 7.27 and 7.39 respectively. Gardner had earlier clocked 7.22 in the heats.
The 3000m boasted one of the standout line-ups on the programme and so it proved with the top four finishers all setting outright lifetime bests at the distance.
One week after setting a world-leading time of 3:54.02 for the mile, Matt Centrowitz just missed the world-leading mark of 7:39.23 in the 3000m but the US runner was rewarded with his fastest ever time – and a World Indoor Championships qualifying time – of 7:40.74.
Centrowitz was chased home by teammate Hassan Mead in 7:40.95 with Britain’s Tom Farrell finishing third in 7:42.47 just ahead of Trevor Dunbar in 7:43.33.
Elsewhere, 400m hurdles specialist Kori Carter won the 60m hurdles in 8.31 while Treniere Moser won the 800m in 2:02.75.
Steven Mills for the IAAF