Genzebe Dibaba made it three from three in 15 days as she produced her third breath-taking world record performance to bring the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix to a scintillating climax in the British city of Birmingham on Saturday (15)
Having taken three seconds from the 1500m record in Karlsruhe on 1 February and six off the 3000m mark in Stockholm last week, the Ethiopian ran 9:00.48 in the two miles to smash her compatriot Meseret Defar’s five-year-old mark by more than five seconds at the last of this winter’s six IAAF Indoor Permit meetings.
It is the 16th world record – although technically Dibaba’s time is a world best as there are no official records for the distance – set at the National Indoor Arena but the first since Kenenisa Bekele broke the men’s two miles mark in 2008, and the appreciative sell-out 7000 crowd came to its feet in full support as Dibaba powered away on her own over the second mile.
Having gone through one mile in 4:31.7 behind the Polish pacemaker Renata Plis, Dibaba struck out alone, running 4:28.8 for the second half.
Astonishingly, her finishing time could have been even quicker as she was some 10 seconds up on Defar’s record schedule with a quarter of a mile to go (7:54.0) when a sub-nine-minute time was clearly on the cards.
She passed 3000m in 8:24.85, the fifth fastest ever time for that distance, and reached the bell in 8:27.7.
With the crowd roaring her on, she sprinted the last lap in 32.8 before throwing her arms up in triumph and frustration; the record obliterated, the nine-minute barrier missed by a whisker.
“I’m very delighted, because to break three world records was what I’d planned,” said Dibaba, who confirmed she will go for 3000m gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, next month.
“In the middle of the race I felt a bit weak and tired, but with the help of the crowd and all the buzzing I was able to gain momentum and get the record.
“I’m hoping to win a gold again at the World Indoors, that’s the plan. I have a 1500m gold from last time, so this time I want the 3000m.”
Dibaba, who pocketed a tidy US$15,000 bonus for her efforts, had never before run over two miles, indoors or out. She now holds not only the world, African and Ethiopian records for the distance, but the family record too, overtaking her older sister Tirunesh who ran 9:12.23 on the NIA track four years ago
Genzebe also surpassed her sister as the most prolific indoor record-breaker among the Dibaba siblings.
Dibaba won by more than 20 seconds, her fellow Ethiopian Hiwot Ayalew was second in 9:21.59 as all six finishers ran personal bests.
Dibaba wasn’t the only Ethiopian in world-beating form as Mohamed Aman took more than half a second from his 800m world lead with an African indoor record of 1:44.52.
Only Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer and Russia’s Yuriy Borzakovskiy have now run faster than Aman under cover.
The 20-year-old world champion, both indoors and outdoors, took the lead with a lap-and-a-half to go and had a five-metre lead on Adam Kszczot at the bell.
The Pole closed the gap down the back straight but Aman was too strong in the final straight.
Kszczot was passed by South Africa’s Andre Oliver who also squeezed under 1:45, clocking a personal best of 1:44.99. Kszczot ran his best of the year in 1:45.19 while Andrew Osagie became the second quickest Briton ever, behind Seb Coe, with 1:45.22.
Dasaolu in tight finish
The Birmingham crowd also saw two world leads in the men’s 60m, although both came in the semi-finals as France’s European indoor champion Jimmy Vicaut ran 6.48 only for Great Britain’s James Dasaolu to go 0.01 quicker in the second race.
Dasaolu went to win the final in 6.50, a clear victory over his likely Sopot rivals, but it was a day of mixed fortunes for the Briton as he strained his left thigh two strides from home and limped over the line.
“My right leg felt tight at about 40-50m,” he said. “I think it’s cramp but I’ll go and see the doctors and see what they say.”
Vicaut couldn’t match his quick semi, fading to sixth in the last 10 metres as Jamaica’s Nesta Carter came through for second in 6.53.
There were no such dramas in the women’s sprint where Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure repeated last year’s victory over Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Both were timed at 7.10, with Britain’s Asha Philip just 0.02 back in third.
Dibaba may be the world’s finest distance runner at the moment but she wasn’t the only one in fine form here.
Laura Muir already holds the world’s fastest 800m time, and the Briton clocked 4:05.32 in the 1500m today to beat the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan by 0.02.
“Hassan is a world class athlete so it gives me a lot of confidence,” said Muir, adding that she’s now unsure which event to run in Sopot.
Her time is not only the third fastest in the world this year but also the second quickest ever by a Briton after Kelly Holmes.
Hassan’s compensation for her narrow defeat was a Dutch indoor record of 4:05.34.
There was more dominant Ethiopian running in the men’s 3000m where Hagos Gebrhiwet took several metres out of his rivals in the final lap to lead two compatriots over the line in 7:35.74.
It was just slightly down on his world lead of 7:34.13 from Boston last Saturday but the world 5000m silver medallist will go to Sopot as favourite after again showing his compatriot Dejen Gebremeskel a clean pair of heels.
Gebremeskel clocked 7:36.53 with fellow Ethiopian Yenew Alamirew third in 7:37.10.
By George! Regina runs into medal reckoning
Nigeria’s Regina George also put herself in the frame for a Sopot medal in the women’s 400m, coming from behind in the home straight to beat Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer in 51.78, the third quickest time in the world this year.
Britain’s Nigel Levine leapt into the world’s top five in the men’s 400m, beating Dominican Republic’s Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos by three metres in 45.71, which matches his personal best.
Santos attacked at the bell and around the final bend but had to settle for second in 46.08.
The top-billed hurdles clash between the US pair of David Oliver and Aries Merritt was a non-event as neither man appeared in the final. Olympic champion Merritt withdrew from the contest through illness while world champion Oliver could only finish seventh in his semi-final in 7.73.
Britain’s Andy Pozzi was the form man at that stage, clocking 7.57, a season’s best he couldn’t repeat in the final when he rapped a hurdle allowing Frenchman Pascal Martinot-Lagarde to come through for the victory in 7.55 ahead of Russia’s European champion Sergey Shubenkov.
Nixon Chepseba continued to show good form over the 1500m. After winning in Karlsruhe earlier this month, the Kenyan again held off all challengers and clocked 3:37.19 to come home ahead of the fast-finishing German Tesfaye Homiyu and Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski.
Homiyu ran a personal best of 3:37.35, while Lewandowski was rewarded with a national indoor record of 3:37.37.
Angelika Cichocka will take some confidence into the World Indoor Championships on home soil after the Pole improved her season’s best to win the women’s 800m ahead of European indoor champion Nataliya Lupu in 2:01.61.
USA’s Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard leapt an indoor best of 2.34m to win the men’s high jump, the pick of the day’s field events.
Great Britain’s Holly Bleasdale was an easy winner of the pole vault at 4.71m, but wasn’t close in her three attempts at what would have been a world-leading height of 4.77m, while Russia’s world champion Aleksandr Menkov needed only 8.14m to win the men’s long jump.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF