The last ever meeting at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall ended in style this afternoon as Mo Farah brought the crowd to their feet with a stadium record in the men’s 1500m after Helen Obiri and Konstantin Shabanov had earlier clocked world leading times in the women’s 3000m and men’s 60m Hurdles.
Stepping down for speed
Farah said yesterday that running a 1500m here was “a vital step” towards winning Olympic gold this summer. Vital or not, it was certainly a positive one as the World 5000m champion stepped down in distance but up in class as he held off Augustine Choge in the last lap of a pulsating race and romped home over the boards in 3:39.03.
It was a fitting end to the Aviva International Match - a European Permit - the annual curtain raiser to the UK indoor season, and a personal best by almost two seconds for Farah in his first 1500m for three years.
Farah, who set a British 3000m record in this stadium in 2009, is fresh from two months’ altitude training in Iten, Kenya. He’d been asked by his coach Alberto Salazar to use this race to hone his speed and he needed every ounce of it to rebuff Choge in the last few strides.
It was a stirring battle between the two. Choge led through 800m but Farah hit the front with 600 to go. The Kenyan fought back to gain the lead again with two laps to go before the Briton struck for home at the bell and hung on to win by just 0.11s.
“It was a good test; it was a good battle. I didn’t want to give up the inside lane so a couple of times I had to dig in,” said Farah. “The main thing is, it’s a win to start 2012 and that’s good.
“I couldn’t believe how much noise there was, it was unbelievable. I’ve never experienced that in my life.”
Farah’s rousing victory rounded off a good day for the host nation as Britain won the five-day match against Russia, Germany, USA and a Commonwealth select team for whom Obiri was the undoubted star.
A World 1500m finalist in Daegu, Obiri enjoyed her indoor debut as she ran the first sub-9 minute time of the year to beat last year’s European champion Helen Clitheroe in 8:42.59.
That was inside Clitheroe’s stadium record from 12 months ago but the Briton was happy enough to open her season with 8:45.59.
The two worked together interchanging the lead until three laps to go when the Kenyan took off with a 32s lap. Afterwards, she immediately set her sights on the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
“It was my aim to run a fast race today, I knew that I would not hold back so I’m pleased with the end result,” she said. “I’m planning to run at the World indoors and will keep working hard in competition to make sure I’m ready.”
Shabanov’s victory came in the opening race of the day, an event lined up to bring victory to Britain’s World bronze medallist Andy Turner.
But it was bad start to the year for Turner who limped off the track suffering with a “dodgy Achilles”, a long-term injury that was hurting with every step, he said.
The pained Turner could only finish fourth as Shabanov, a former world junior champion, stormed home in 7.54, a personal best for the Russian and equal to Kevin Craddock’s world lead.
“I got out of the blocks quickly which was much better for me,” said Shabanov. “I’ve had a back injury but now I’m looking forward to the World indoors.”
USA’s Dexter Faulk was second in 7.60 ahead of Briton Lawrence Clarke who clocked a PB 7.67 running for the Commonwealth.
Fast 400s too
Pavel Trenikhin was another impressive Russian winner. The tall 25-year-old came from behind in the men’s 400m to beat the fast-starting Chris Brown of the Bahamas with ease in 46.68, third quickest in the world this year.
Brown was second in 47.42, 0.04s ahead of Jamaal Torrance who never recovered from a slow start on the inside lane.
“I was not expecting to win with such a high quality field including the indoor World champion, Chris Brown,” said Trenikhin. “This gives me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the indoor season. I am hoping to continue my success in Istanbul.”
Russia won the women’s 400 as well thanks to Yulia Terekhova who passed the fading Briton Shana Cox on the inside to clock 53.12. It was a PB for the 21-year-old, a European under 23 silver medallist last year.
Natasha Hastings finished strongly to take second in 53.54 after being bumped at the bell.
Like Turner, Hannah England, one of Britain’s other world medallists, also suffered defeat, although the Daegu 1500m silver medallist was much happier afterwards despite being caught on the line by Germany’s Denise Krebs.
England took the lead with three to go after a slow start, but the German was just too strong at the end and edged ahead to clock 4:25.09 with England only 0.02s behind.
For the last two seasons this five-way match has featured Jessica Ennis beating Lolo Jones over 60m hurdles. In the absence of those two, it was US captain Danielle Carruthers who took the spoils this time in 8.09, 0.02s ahead of Germany’s Cindy Roleder.
Legend Collins held-off twice
Danny Talbot scored Britain’s first victory when he held off Kim Collins to win the men’s 200m in 21.17. “It’s such an honour to beat him,” said Talbot afterwards. “He’s a legend of the track.”
Minutes later Maraget Adeoye added the women’s 200 for the hosts as she made a massive step from 24.30 to 23.69, enough to beat the experienced Russian Yuliya Gushchina.
Gushchina, an Olympic relay champion outdoors, finished last in 24.41, as Germany’s Cathleen Tschirch took second in 23.70.
Britain’s dominance of the sprints continued with 60m wins for Jeanette Kwakye and Mark Lewis-Francis.
The first from Kwakye was especially impressive as the former world indoor silver medallist won by a full two tenths from Germany’s Yasmin Kwadwo in 7.26.
Then Lewis-Francis handed Collins his second defeat of the day by winning the men’s by 0.01s in 6.65. Germany’s Christian Blum was third in 6.67.
There was a big PB for another Briton as Joe Thomas produced a blistering last lap to beat the Kenyan Boaz Lalang over 800m. Thomas won by 20m from Germany’s Soren Ludolph in 1:47.35, second quickest in the world this year.
Jenny Meadows was missing from the women’s 800m with a minor injury, and in her absence Erica Moore was rewarded for a brave front running performance with a personal best of 2:02.87 ahead of Russia’s Yeketerina Martynova.
Great start for Klishina
Darya Klishina was the pick of the field eventers. The Russian star won the women’s Long Jump with 6.75m, moving her up to second in the world this year – “a great start to the season,” she said.
Klishina needed three attempts to register a legitimate jump but then leapt into the lead with 6.66 before improving again in the fourth. Britain’s Shara Proctor leapt to fourth on the UK indoor all-time list with 6.59, the best by a British woman for 15 years and good enough for second place.
Germany’s Karsten Dilla beat world leader Dmitry Starodubtsev in the men’s Pole Vault, the Russian failing to match his previous indoor form. Starodubtsev has vaulted 5.90 twice this year, but could only clear 5.60 today as Dilla won with a best of 5.75.
Robbie Grabarz was another world leader who struggled. The British high jumper, who cleared 2.34m in Germany last week, almost went out at 2.26 then failed at 2.29. He had to be satisfied with second as Russia’s Aleksandr Shustov produced a perfect series up to 2.29 before failing at 2.32.
Britain did have one field event win thanks to Yamile Aldama who won the women’s Triple Jump with 14.03.
Britain won the match with 60 points, seven more than Russia and Germany, with the Commonwealth select finishing ahead of USA.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF
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