Jennifer Suhr cleared 4.88m on her first attempt to set a national record and regain her No. 2 spot on the all-time women's pole vault list to highlight the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood on Saturday (4). The meet saw five other world leading marks.
Suhr, who had been second among pole vaulters indoors all-time until Holly Bleasdale vaulted 4.87m earlier this year, made one attempt at 5.01m, but declined to continue afterward. A clearance at that height would have represented a world record. Suhr's agent later explained that she had felt irritation in her Achilles tendon, and that concern about aggravating previous injuries led her and her coach to opt out of further attempts. Suhr herself opted not to stand in the athlete-media mixed zone and did not talk to reporters.
Suhr passed the first two heights, 4.20m and 4.40m, which were sufficient to prune the field down to four. With Jillian Schwartz, Lacy Janson, and Becky Holliday all accumulating three misses at 4.52m, Suhr cleared that height on her first attempt, then made 4.63m on her second vault. It took her three tries to clear 4.72m before her single-attempt clearance at 4.88m. The previous national record, also held by Suhr, was 4.86m, set last year in Albuquerque.
World leaders at 400m and 3000m
400m World champion Kirani James, running in lane 5, made up the stagger on Josh Scott in lane 6 before the break and led the field to the rail at 200 metres, then defended that lead through the second lap to win in a world-leading 45.96. "I'm opening my season here to see where I'm at", said James. "I'm happy with this as an opening race."
Asked about carrying his World Championship title into the Olympic Games, James was cautious. "It's going to take a lot of hard work."
Caleb Ndiku ran a world-leading 7:38.29 in the men's 3000m to hold off last year's winner (and world 5000m bronze medalist) Dejen Gebremeskel, who ran 7:38.97. The two broke away from the pack in the closing laps.
Oliver takes down Merritt in 60m Hurdles
David Oliver ran down Aries Merritt to win the men's 60m hurdles in 7.60, but discounted the effort almost immediately. "This was not a very good run," he said. "It's my start. I can't give up so much at the very beginning. That's what indoors is for. I want to give a good accounting of myself, and I don't think I did that today."
Before Oliver's rivals take too much encouragement, however, he added, "We start from the end of the track and work backwards" to the start. "We'll get it done eventually."
Btissam Lakhouad pipped Diamond Race winner Morgan Uceny in the women's 1000m run, in a world-leading 2:38.14; Uceny ran 2:38.44 with Anna Pierce and Maggie Infeld right behind in 2:38.91 and 2:38.99 respectively.
Farah tumbles but still improves
Mo Farah featured in the highly anticipated men's Mile race, but when he tumbled to the track before the first lap was completed, the race took on extra drama. Farah took several kicks as the pack attempted to clear him, but bounced back up and was immediately in pursuit. Training partner Galen Rupp took the late-race pace but ultimately it was the third member of their Oregon-based training group, Irishman Ciaran O'Lionaird, who took the victory in 3:56.01, with Rupp slipping to third.
Farah, in fourth, ran a new PB of 3:57.92. "I got clipped, not their fault," he explained. "I'm not feeling any ill effects yet. You've got to be ready for anything."
O'Lionaird called his win "Good for this time of year," adding, "I'm still new to this game, so I'm just thankful to be here and not injured."
Defar over Simpson at 3000m
The women's 3000m was a meeting of champions as newly-minted 1500m champion Jenny Simpson stepped up to meet multiple champion Meseret Defar. Defar arrived better-prepared tonight, running away from the field to an 8:33.57 victory, while Simpson overreached, finishing seventh in 8:58.70. "I'm pleased with my race," said Defar, alternating between answering questions in English and using an interpreter. "The pace was uneven, but I raced well."
Defar professed to be still undecided on her event for London, but added, "We are going to train well" for the Olympic Games, and "I don't think the kind of dominance the Kenyans had in 2011 will happen again."
Defar also noted the performance of her sometime rival and compatriot, double Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba, who won a two-mile race earlier in the program in 9:21.60. "[Dibaba] wasn't well trained for this race, so to achieve that mark, she had to be amazing. She will do well this summer."
Simpson, for her part, admitted taking a risk which hadn't paid off. "I was training hard at altitude until the last minute," she said, "and I overestimated what I could do on my first run [at sea level]." Simpson noted that while expectations of her are high in 2012, "I'm doing my best to meet them."
Adam Nelson tossed 21.27m in his first attempt to win the Shot Put over Cory Martin at 20.44m. "I just want to improve by a foot and a half each week from now until the Olympics," joked Nelson, who putted 20.68m last week in New York City.
Maggie Vessey won the closest of women's 800m races over Erika Moore, with both timed at 2:02.37. Vessey, who laid off the pace early and closed quickly in the final lap, found a gap on the inside on the homestretch. "I had to take a risky move," she confirmed. "I tried to slip through."
Murielle Ahoure was the women's 60m winner in 7.13. Deedee Trotter won the 300m in 37.07, just ahead of Bianca Knight.
Parker Morse for the IAAF