Genzebe Dibaba ran the sixth-fastest 1500m performance in history to highlight the Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, on Friday (10), the penultimate stop on the five-meeting IAAF World Indoor Tour.
Arriving on the heels of her 2000m world record run in Sabadell, Spain, on Tuesday, expectations were high that Dibaba would land in this northern Polish city with her sights focused firmly on the 3:55.17 world record she set in Karlsruhe three years ago. She even indicated as much at the pre-meeting press conference yesterday, but erratic pacing over the first 600 metres would foil the effort, forcing her to settle for a 3:58.80 world lead.
“I’m happy with the result today but the pacing wasn't quite right,” said Dibaba, who turned 26 just two days ago. “I tried very hard over the last two laps but I wasn't quite able to do it.”
Those closing laps, at roughly 32.5 and 31.8, were well outside the 30.26 and 29.72 she produced en route to her record in Karlsruhe, but they still propelled the world 1500m champion to a performance that only two other women have managed to beat.
Jozwik impresses with 1:59.29 national record
Dibaba’s was one of five world leads on the evening which came before a capacity crowd of 5200 at Torun’s Indoor Arena. The most appreciated came from Olympic finalist and world leader Joanna Jozwik, who set a 1:59.29 national indoor record in the 800m, the first sub-two-minute performance in the world this season.
Taking off with pace setter Emilia Ankiewicz from the gun, the pair built a substantial lead over the first lap, one which they extended by the midway point, reached in 56.76. Soon after, the 26-year-old was on her own and she passed through 600m in a national indoor record of 1:27.40.
With the crowd on their feet, Jozwik pumped her arms hard down the backstretch and through the finish before falling to the track where she was soon surrounded by flowers and photographers.
Anita Hinriksdottir of Iceland was a distant second in 2:01.56, with world champion Maryna Arzamasova third in 2:03.17
That momentum didn't carry over to Adam Kszczot, the other Polish 800m world leader on the programme. Leading the field behind the pacer from the gun, Kszczot took command with 250 metres remaining but just as he looked poised to take the win, Kenyan Nicholas Kipkoech swept by on the outside over the final 20 metres to nab the his first victory of the season in 1:46.34, 0.10 ahead of the Pole.
World leads for sprinters Baker and Pierre
Ronnie Baker of the US captured the first indoor international victory of his career in fine fashion, dominating the 60m in 6.46. The two-time NCAA indoor champion over the distance was never threatened after the 20-metre point en route to a lifetime best that elevates him to 12th on the world indoor all-time list.
Chijindu Ujah of Great Britain was a distant second in 6.56, just edging Ghanaian Sean Safo-Antwi, who clocked 6.57.
It took a careful read of the photo to separate the top three in the women's 60m, with world indoor champion Barbara Pierre eventually getting the nod.
Ezinne Okparaebo of Norway built a small lead by the midway point, but Pierre, who clocked a 7.11 world lead in the heats, narrowed the gap by the 50-metre point to leave the two virtually inseparable at the line. Both were credited with 7.13 but Pierre got the edge by just two thousandths of a second. Jamaican Gayon Evans closed well over the final 20 metres to take third in 7.15.
The fifth world lead came wrapped in an upset, courtesy of Bralon Taplin in the 400m. The Grenadian Olympic and world indoor finalist shadowed two-time world indoor champion Pavel Maslak for some 350 metres before pulling away down the final stretch to a 45.59 victory. Maslak timed a season’s best of 45.80 for second.
Another dominant performance came in the men’s 60m hurdles, where Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega cruised to a Spanish record of 7.48, the second-fastest time in the world this year and just 0.03 shy of his lifetime best. Carrying a clear lead over the first barrier, he extended his advantage with every stride to eventually win by a whopping 0.27. This second tour victory upped his points tally to 27, giving him an insurmountable lead.
Konstadinos Douvalidis of Greece was a distant second in 7.75.
The women's contest, not a scoring discipline, was much closer, with Croatia's Andrea Ivancevic prevailing in 7.98, also a season's best. She held off quick-closing US duo Jasmin Stowers and Jackie Coward, who clocked 7.99 and 8.00 respectively.
Birgen shows his kick
The meeting kicked off with an entertaining battle in the men’s 1500m between Silas Kiplagat and Bethwell Birgen with the crowd, already filled to capacity, urging Marcin Lewandowski to break through the favoured Kenyan juggernaut.
Kiplagat, the winner in Karlsruhe, was the first to make a pivotal move as he broke for the front with 400 metres to go. That spurred on Birgen, who ran wide to take the lead with just under a lap and a half remaining. As their tussle continued, Lewandowski, sitting in fifth, began to advance through the field one by one, eventually settling in second half a lap from the finish. Birgen closed strongly to win in 3:37.63 while Lewandowski held off Kiplagat's advance to finish second in 3:38.24, 0.11 ahead of Kiplagat with Vincent Kibet fourth in 3:38.42.
Birgen and Kiplagat are now tied with 20 points in the World Indoor Tour standings.
The highlight on the infield came in the women’s pole vault, won by Nichole Buchler of Switzerland at 4.60m to take sole possession of the tour lead in the event. She only needed jumps at 4.50m and 4.60m – both first-attempt clearances – to seal the win ahead of Czech Romana Malacova and Mary Saxer of the US, who both topped out at 4.50m.
Sylwester Bednarek won the high jump with 2.27m and Anna Jagaciak Michalska the triple jump, on her 27th birthday no less, with 13.97m. Nadia Eke of Ghana was second at 13.52m.
And finally, Iga Baumgart rounded out a Polish victory spree with her win in the 400m in 52.17, just 0.17 shy of the national indoor record.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF