Karlsruhe, Germany - Ethiopia's two-time Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar was appearing at the Weltklasse meeting in Karlsruhe - an IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting - for the first time but it showed no signs of unfamiliarity and controlled the women’s 3000m right from the gun before posting a world-leading 8:35.28 on Saturday (2).
Compatriot Gete Dima was competing indoors for the first time and was the designated pace maker, bringing Defar through the first kilometre in 2:52.43 before departing just before the end of the second kilometre, which was reached in 5:46.72, and Defar easily achieved her goal of a meeting record.
“This was my first race of the year,” said Defar. “Although I wanted to run 8:31, I’m lucky that it went so well with the pacer during the first part of the race. The speed was quite high.”
Behind Defar, Azerbaijan's Layes Abdullayeva held third place midway through the race, albeit at a distance from the Ethiopian pair, but Germany’s Corinna Harrer kept Abdullayeva in view and passed her with just over four laps to go.
The German finished strongly in second with 8:51.04 as Ireland's 2012 European Cross Country Championships gold medallist Fionnuala Britton was third in a personal best of 8:55.22, followed home by Abdullayeva in 8:57.17.
In the highly-touted men's Pole Vault event, London 2012 Olympic Games champion Renaud Lavillenie opened with a big clearance at 5.65m, by which time only three other competitors remained.
The Frenchman, now unbeaten in five meetings this winter, then appeared quite satisfied to emerge with a 5.83m meeting record and beat the man who has become his main rival over the last 12 months, Germany’s 2012 Olympic Games and European Athletics Championships silver medallist Bjorn Otto, who ended with 5.72m.
After Otto missed at 5.83m on his first attempt, Lavillenie immediately cleared to send the bar to 5.93m as Otto then passed. However, neither vaulter could manage that world-leading height today.
“It was a pleasure to jump here,” said an ebullient Lavillenie. “Last year, some of the Germans came to Paris, and I was able to beat them on my home turf. Now, I was able to also defeat them in their home arena. It was also great to have my brother (Valentin, fifth with 5.45m) here with me. He can learn a lot, not just from me but from all of the others.”
Life left in Lagat's legs
Bernard Lagat showed that there is still plenty of life in his 38-year-old legs as the American pulled away from two much younger challengers to a win in 7:34.71, the third-fastest mark of his long career and a world-leading time for the season.
After the departure of the pacemakers, Lagat was in a tight three-man pack with Azerbaijan's Hayle Ibrahimov and Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew. Slowly, the American was able to get clear as Alamirew moved past Ibrahimov with 500 metres to go and ended second with 7:38.57 while Ibrahimov got as national record with his third-place 7:41.46.
Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba tore away from the start and fashioned a 15-metre lead after only the first 150 metres of the women’s 1500m. The reigning World indoor champion may have had her sights on bettering her own meeting record of 4:00.13 but she had to settle for a 4:02.25, which was still a world-leading mark.
A long way behind Dibaba, a group was contesting the other places as Poland's Angelika Cichocka moved ahead off the final curve to take second in 4:11.79.
The men’s 800m saw a gripping battle as Spain’s Kevin Lopez nipped Poland's Adam Kszczot on the line, 1:46.72 to 1:46.76, with both men under the previous world-leading mark.
After one lap, Kszczot led the group behind the pacer Luca Randazzo, as Lopez and Kenya's Boaz Lalang followed close behind. When the bell sounded, Kszczot changed gear and appeared to be en-route to victory but Lopez had a powerful kick over the final 100m to just steal the win.
In the men’s 1500m, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, the 2012 Olympic Games 3000m Steeplechase silver medallist, used his strength from that event to power away from the field with two laps left, winning in a European-leading and personal best time of 3:36.95.
The Frenchman went with the pacer Cornelius Ndiwa from the gun and, except for a short time when Ethiopia's Teshome Dirisa took over the lead, he controlled the race.
Dirisa held on for second in 3:37.64, in his indoor debut at the distance, while Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski put on a strong surge over the last 100 metres to take third in 3:38.58.
Cuba’s Orlando Ortega won the men’s 60 metres Hurdles in 7.60 over erstwhile season leader Omo Osaghae, of the USA, who was given second in 7.65 while Germany’s Eric Balnuweit was third in the same time.
The heats had seemed to presage a slightly brisker time than the final eventually produced. Balnuweit firstly ran a personal best and European-leading 7.60, followed by Ortega’s personal best and world-leading 7.54 in the second heat.
The women’s 60m Hurdles went to Czech Republic’s Lucie Skrobakova in 8.03, ahead of Italy's Micol Cattaneo in 8.09. American hurdler Yvette Lewis false-started in her heat.
In her first competition of the year, Bulgaria's 2012 European 100m champion Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria eked out a narrow win in the women’s 60m over her German predecessor as European champion Verena Sailer, with both timed at 7.19; the latter having also clocked 7.20 in her heat.
Germany's former European Long Jump champion Christian Reif posted his second eight-metre performance in as many competitions this season to win with 8.01m. Sweden’s Michel Torneus was a distant second with 7.80m
The women’s Long Jump victory went to France's 2012 European champion, Eloyse Lesueur with 6.81m, just three centimetres short of her indoor national record. Germany's Melanie Bauschke was already assured of at least second place as she went to the runway for her final attempt and used the no-pressure situation to her advantage as she came up with an indoor personal best of 6.68m
Ed Gordon for the IAAF