Ethiopia’s World 5000m and 10,000m champion Tirunesh Dibaba lowered her own World indoor 5000m record** by five and a half seconds Saturday evening (27) at he Reebok Boston Indoor Games, running 14:27.42.
Running on the same track where she set the previous record of 14:32.93, just under two years ago, Dibaba left behind the last pacemakers at halfway and struck out alone, eventually lapping everyone else on the track.
Dibaba's performance was the highlight of a meet that saw five national records and eight other world indoor season leading performances, including a Shot Put upset, and near dominance of Australian athletes--with no indoor tracks in Australia, their record books were ripe for rewriting.
Dibaba's dominating run
American Bridget Binning led the first kilometre in 2:55.23, and Serbian Marina Muncan took Dibaba, wearing a bib marked "Tiru," her older sister Ejegayehu ("Gigi"), the World 5000m bronze medallist, and Aheza Kiros (also of Ethiopia) through a slightly faster second kilometer, reaching 2,000m in 5:48.
Ejegayehu, who Tirunesh later explained was suffering from a cold, didn't move into the lead until a full lap after Muncan stepped off, and then lasted barely two laps before Tirunesh took over. The third kilometre was the slowest of the race, reached in 8:44.30, but the record was still in Dibaba's reach--if she didn't slow any more.
When 4000m came in 11:40.98, Dibaba was perilously close to falling off record pace, but her pace was steady. With six laps to go, she had lapped Kiros and was closing in on Ejegayehu. With two laps remaining and the record still possible, Dibaba poured on the speed.
She covered the final 200m lap in 29.72 seconds, and the difference between that and her previous pace was the difference between the old record and the new one.
"Gigi was under the weather and wasn't able to keep up with me," Dibaba said of her sister. Still, she affirmed, "I'm very happy. I was prepared for this race, and I had the confidence to break the record. I didn't think I would break it by this much." Asked if she might pursue the outdoor record, currently held by her friendly rival Meseret Defar, Dibaba allowed, "If God is willing, I will try."
Defar not so lucky
Defar had a harder time later in the meet with her own World record attempt in the 3000m. Despite suffering from a cold which appeared to affect several of the Ethiopian party, Defar followed Ukraine's Irina Vaschuk from the start. Vaschuk was supposed to set World record pace, but barely lasted four laps before leaving Defar alone in the front, passing the first kilometre in 2:49.61, not a promising start.
Running alone, Defar slowed further, reaching the second kilometre in 5:42.95, needing to run sub-2:45 for the record. More surprisingly, American Shalane Flanagan had moved up from the pack and onto Defar's shoulder, with New Zealander Kim Smith not far behind.
Defar had slowed to 34-second laps, and with two laps remaining Flanagan actually moved up as though to pass. Defar reacted as though waking from sleep, accelerating into a 33-second penultimate lap and a 32-second bell lap, finishing in 8:30.31. Flanagan, second in 8:33.25, sliced nearly six seconds off the U.S. NR of 8:39.14; Smith, third in 8:38.14, lowered the New Zealand NR of 8:45.53 previously held by Anne Audain. Defar, spent from the effort, spent several minutes lying flat on the floor of the athlete's recovery area, and required assistance to stand.
"I think (Defar) is a little sick, and I took advantage of that today," said Flanagan. "She helped me a lot."
Taylor upsets shot kings
With Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell atop the world of shot putting, it can be hard for a young American thrower to get attention. Dan Taylor found one way to do it: release a world season leading 21.57m to top both of them. With action on the track stopped to focus attention on the throwers on the infield, Taylor blasted all his throws over 21 metres. "It was the best meet I've ever had," admitted Taylor, a recent graduate of the Ohio State University.
Australian records come easily
Australia’s double World Cup 3000m title holder Craig Mottram returned to action after rehabbing an injury from the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid on New Year's eve. In the men’s 3000m, after waiting behind a pacemaker and then European Indoor champion Alistair Cragg for 2000m, Mottram took off in the final 1000m. Only Ethiopian Markos Geneti was able to stay within five seconds of Mottram, who finished in a world-leading 7:39.24 (an indoor PB and NR) despite waving to the crowd on the backstretch of his final lap. Mottram covered the last 400m in 54.9. "That was probably one of my best runs ever," said Mottram.
Sarah Jamieson ran another world season leading Australian record in the women's Mile, which she won in 4:28.03; Mark Fountain, 3rd in the men's Mile (3:57.76) only missed an Australian NR because he'd already set it here in 2005. Alan Webb won that race in a world leading 3:55.18.
Steven Hooker laboured under greater difficulties than the other Australians, since his vaulting poles did not arrive from Australia in time for the meet. He borrowed poles from Jeff Hartwig and won with a 5.81m clearance, also a world season leading mark and Australian indoor record. Hooker admitted to reporters afterward that this was the second time he had defeated Hartwig with Hartwig's own poles, but, "Jeff has won a lot more than me." "Steve had the performance of the night," said Mottram.
More world leaders
David Payne ran a list-leading 7.58 to win the men's 60m Hurdles after Aries Merritt false-started. Shawn Crawford won the men's flat 60m dash in 6.55, equalling the time run by Craig Pickering in Glasgow just hours before.
Canada’s Perdita Felicien's 7.97 winning time in the women's 60m Hurdles trails only Susanna Kallur (another mark only hours old,) and Nick Symmonds won the men's 800m in 1:48.15, just .02s slower than Jackson Langat's world-leading 1:48.13 run at the Terrier Invitational, a mostly collegiate meet just a few miles away.
Parker Morse for the IAAF
**NOTE - a World record subject to the usual ratification procedures
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