Mo Farah’s ear-busting 3000m victory may have been the meeting’s grand finale but it was four women who stole the show at the British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham, an IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting, this afternoon (Saturday).
Best of all was Murielle Ahouré who posted the seventh quickest time ever as she shot to victory the women’s 60m in 6.99, one of four world leads at the National Indoor Arena.
The Ivory Coast sprinter sliced a hundredth from the time she set in Houston last month to break the UK all-comers’ record for a second time in the afternoon, while Genzebe Dibaba and Olha Saladuha extended their own leads at the top of the 1500m and triple jump lists, and Natasha Hastings went under 51 seconds in the 400m.
All the pre-race publicity in the women’s 60m was about Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and world champion Carmelita Jeter. But Ahouré was in dominant form, blasting away to cross the line a full tenth ahead of the Jamaican.
Fraser-Pryce just outdipped Barbara Pierre of USA for second on her first indoor appearance, while World 100m champion Carmelita Jeter could only finish fourth in 7.18.
“That’s very cool, a boost of confidence to go out there and run against great competition and beat them,” said Ahouré. “It’s so exciting to go out there and run fast like this, it means my 100m is going to be amazing.”
Ahouré made her intentions clear in the semi-finals when she sped to 7.03, eclipsing Gail Devers’ 14-year-old stadium record. Fraser-Pryce eased off to win her semi comfortably in 7.19 before going a tenth quicker in the final.
“It was a good experience,” she said. “I’m looking forward to many more indoor races. I don’t have any more planned this year – the world title is my aim.”
That’s the aim for Dibaba too, although the Ethiopian had to be satisfied with a UK all-comers’ record here after making a bold attack on Yelena Soboleva’s 2006 World indoor record.
Dibaba remained on target to beat the World mark of 3:58.28 until she tightened up in the last 100m to clock 4:00.84. There were season’s best for the next five athletes, with Siham Hilali the best of them in second, more than seven seconds behind Dibaba.
Saladuha was similarly dominant in the Triple Jump. She won by 41cm with a third-round leap of 14.61m and all of her four legal jumps would have been enough for victory.
Trecia Smith was the only other athlete to breach 14 metres, while World indoor champion Yamile Aldama was fourth with her best of the year, 13.91m.
Hastings had been disqualified from the 60m semi-finals two hours before the 400m, but she came back in determined mood and streaked away from Perri Shakes-Drayton at the end of the two-lap event to win in 50.88, improving her season’s best by almost a second.
Shakes Drayton chased her home in 51.37 with fellow 400m hurdler Eilidh Child third in 51.50, both PBs.
Farah still the fans’ favourite
As for Farah, he will still grab the morning’s headlines after revealing he intends run half this year’s London Marathon in preparation for his full Marathon debut next year. The double Olympic champion will race to half way alongside the likes of Patrick Makau, Wilson Kipsang on April 21 as a kind of “fact-finding mission” before he tackles the full 26.2 miles in 2014.
The world 5000m champion had the rather easier task here of beating a largely domestic field over 3000m – his role to bring the meeting to a suitably rousing conclusion, a duty he duly performed in 7:42.00.
Farah, who’s just back from six weeks’ training in Kenya with “some good mileage” in his legs, had enough speed to pull away from European 1500m silver medallist Florian Carvalho.
It was his 11th consecutive victory – discounting the Olympic heats – and he’s now set his sights on adding the World 10,000m title to his 5000m crown in Moscow.
“I’ve got a lot of miles under my legs but we’re good,” he said. “I’m definitely looking forward to the outdoor season and the Worlds should be great.”
Farah was one of six Olympic champions on show today, although hurdler Aries Merritt wasn’t one of them – the World 110m Hurdles record-holder pulled out of the meeting with a hamstring injury.
Fellow American Omo Osaghae took advantage of his absence with an impressive victory in 7.51, moving him into third on the world list, just a hundredth behind Kevin Craddock and Sergey Shubenkov.
Shubenkov was second here in 7.58, no match for Osaghae’s quick start, while Craddock made a mess of his semi-final, hitting the fourth and fifth barriers hard and finishing last.
Mike Rodgers also got a great start in the men’s 60m final, and he held off the fast-finishing Jamaican, Nesta Carter, to win in 6.53, the third-quickest time in the world this year.
There was clear daylight at the finish before Carter crossed the line second in 6.56, ahead of Antoine Adams and Kim Collins, the St Kitts sprinters both timed at 6.61.
World No.2 Lerone Clarke and UK No.1 Dwain Chambers both failed to make the final. Clarke, who has run 6.52 this year, was sixth in his heat in 7.13, while Chambers was fifth in his with 6.81, more than two-tenths outside his season’s best.
The former world indoor champion ran 6.58 in Glasgow in January but missed last weekend’s UK Trials with a back injury.
Dramatic finish in men’s 800m
Michael Rimmer moved to second place in the world 800m rankings after a fast and dramatic race in which Abubaker Kaki fell at the finish and rolled sideways across the line.
Kaki somehow stopped the clock at 1:46.57, while the lunging Rimmer emerged from the carnage with victory and a personal best, two hundredths ahead of the Sudanese athlete.
A second Briton, Mukhtar Mohammed, was also in the photo. He fell over Kaki’s legs to take third in 1:46.58 while Andrew Osagie was fourth in 1:46.97.
There was another confident British victory in the Long Jump where Shara Proctor led throughout, improving from 6.46m in the first to her best of 6.78m in the final round, enough to move into the world top five. Cornelia Deiac of Romania was second with 6.54m.
Holly Bleasdale exacted revenge on Yarisley Silva in the Pole Vault without quite hitting the heights of a week ago. Bleasdale, who lost to the Olympic silver medallist in Bydgoszcz on Tuesday, got the better of the Cuban on count-back as both cleared 4.70m.
She took the lead with her first vault, clearing 4.50m after Silva had one failure, and took victory at 4.70m, again going over first time when Silva needed two again. Both attempted a world lead of 4.78m, Bleasdale going close with her third effort.
Robbie Grabarz predicted a leap “in the mid-30s” would win the men’s High Jump, and so it proved. Unfortunately for the Briton, it was Russia’s Aleksey Dmitrik who cleared 2.33m to win by 4cm.
Grabarz was second with a best of 2.29m ahead of Ivan Ukhov and Donald Thomas on count-back.
Bethwell Birgen had to settle for second in the men’s 1500m for the second year in a row. The Kenyan, who is world No.2 this year, was beaten in a dip finish 12 months ago.
This time he was outkicked by Morocco’s World indoor champion Abdelaati Iguider who took the lead at the bell and held on for a season’s best of 3:37.54. Marcin Lewandowski of Poland was third.
Russia’s Ekaterina Poistogoiva strode away from Jenny Meadows to win the women’s 800m in 2:02.25.
The Olympic bronze medallist was a comfortable winner, but Meadows was satisfied with second in 2:02.86 in her first race since getting injured ahead of the European Championships in Helsinki last June.
Thirty-nine-year-old Helen Clitheroe won in the same fashion against UK champion Lauren Howarth in the women’s 3000m. The European indoor champion overcame the 17-year age difference to win in 8:50.16.
Nigel Levine took some significant scalps in the men’s 400m, beating the Olympic silver and bronze medallists, Luguelin Santos and Lalonde Gordon, in 46.34, while six women crossed the line virtually abreast in the women’s 60m Hurdles.
It was some minutes before world silver medallist Danielle Carruthers was given the verdict in 8.11 ahead of her US compatriot Loreal Smith and Britain’s Tiffany Porter, both clocked at 8.12. Just four hundredths separated the top six finishers.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF