Quick start for Susanna Kallur in Glasgow (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Flying start for Kallur, Freidrich's rise continues - Glasgow International Match report

Glasgow, UKThe howling gales that have blasted northern Britain in the last few days may have blown a few Glaswegians off their feet last night but nothing could knock sprint hurdler Susanna Kallur from her stride this afternoon as the Swede snapped up her sixth consecutive victory at the Norwich Union International in Glasgow clocking the year’s fastest time in the world.

Fastest-ever season opener for Kallur
 
“This is my sixth time opening my season here and it’s absolutely great,” said the delighted European champion whose convincing 60m Hurdles win was clocked at 7.81, just 0.01s outside her personal best and easily the quickest she has run at this stage of the year.

“I love the atmosphere here,” she said. “I was very surprised by the time. 7.81 is my second best time ever and absolutely my best opener to a season, so it’s a fantastic way to start.”

USA ‘s World Championships finallist Lolo Jones was a distant second in 8.05.

Friedrich’s rise continues, joins 2m Club

Ariane Friedrich was the pick of the day’s field eventers. The German, a former European junior champion, came to Glasgow aiming to clear 1.95m and surprised herself by jumping 2.00m, one centimetre above her previous best and the highest in the world before this weekend. She beat Sweden’s 2005 world bronze medallist Emma Green by 7cm.

“It’s just a dream for every high jumper to clear 2.00m and now my dream has come true here in Glasgow,” said the delighted 24-year-old.

Lagat's Beijing road begins 

It was good start for Bernard Lagat too. The double World champion declared he is “absolutely where I am supposed to be right now” after a commanding win over Kenya’s Shadrack Korir in the 1500m.

Lagat bided his time in third place until 300m to go before unleashing his trademark finishing kick over the last lap to win in 3:45.89.

“That was absolutely the kind of start I was looking for,” said the American, who then donned a tartan hat to the cheers of the small but noisy Scottish crowd. “I wanted to be local; I wanted to be adopted,” laughed the former Kenyan as he sported the “tartan bunnet”.

Adopting a more serious tone, Lagat then confirmed that the 1500m/5000m Olympic double is in his plans for August although he definitely won’t run at the World indoor championships in Valencia.

“My thought is always to go out and win an Olympic gold. That is my only aim, my absolute goal for this year,” he said. “I am going to take it one step at a time, but I want to qualify in both events from the Trials.”

“I am not doing the World Indoors. They are mid-March and I just want to be training around that time. I don’t want anything to disturb my focus for the Olympics.”

Heel injury sidelines Walker

If Kallur and Lagat were satisfied with their starts to a long and important year, the omens were less good for other Olympic medal hopefuls.

Lagat’s teammate Brad Walker, the World indoor and outdoor champion, was forced out of the Pole Vault with a heel injury (Germany’s Alexander Straub won with 5.60m), while reigning World indoor 400m champion Alleyne Francique was beaten to the line by a 21-year-old Briton, Richard Buck (47.76) and then found he’d been disqualified.

Indeed, it was largely Britain’s day as Buck’s was one of seven victories for the hosts, enough to give them the five-way match by a point from the USA. The win came in dramatic style thanks to two sparkling 60m victories for Craig Pickering and Jeanette Kwakye in the final two events of the day.

British sprint sweep

Pickering, in particular, looked impressive as he blasted away from fellow Brits Simeon Williamson, running for the Commonwealth, and his training partner Ryan Scott, to cross the line in 6.57, the quickest in the world so far.

The 21-year-old European indoor silver medallist, who made his name at this meeting last year, then sent a message to his world rivals about his intentions for the rest of the indoor season.

“It’s great to be in this sort of form already in an Olympic year, he said. “But my focus now is on the World Indoor Championships.”

USA’s Darvis Patton, twice a World relay champion, was left languishing in fourth place by Pickering’s speed, while Kwakye also took some notable scalps as she won the women’s 60m in 7.23, the third quickest time in the world this year. That left Jamaica’s Olympic relay champion Aleen Bailey back in fourth.

British women dominated their middle distance events as Jenny Meadows in the 800m, Lisa Dobriskey in the 1500m and Katrina Wootton in the 3000m all ran from the front to secure their victories. Meadows, in particular, looked strong as she clocked 2:02.89, a time only Russia’s Yelena Sobolyeva has bettered this year.

The other British victory went to Chris Tomlinson in the long jump (7.86m) but the Scottish crowd’s great hope, Alan Scott, failed to live up to his newly acquired “World leader” reputation when he was disqualified from the 60m Hurdles for false starts. USA’s David Oliver won in 7.60.

Ennis collects four PBs

It was a good day for heptathlete Jessica Ennis though. The Briton who finished fourth at the World Championships in Osaka last summer, produced no fewer than four personal bests in her two events.

First she equalled her PB in a tough race against the hurdles specialists, clocking 8.18 to finish fifth. Then she jumped 6.28, 6.30 and 6.33 to finish second in the Long Jump behind Germany’s Bianca Kappler by just four centimetres.

“I’m a bit ahead of where I was last year,” said Ennis afterwards. “It has been a good day for me with PBs. I am feeling good in myself for the rest of the year.”

Elsewhere there were impressive wins for Sweden’s European silver medallist Johan Wissman in the 200m (21.18), Uganda’s 19-year-old prodigy Abraham Chepkirwok in the 800m (1:50.02), and Shereefa Lloyd of Jamaica in the women’s 400m (53.08).

Matthew Brown for the IAAF

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