Naoto Tobe’s shock 2.35m clearance in the high jump highlighted the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe on Saturday (2), the second stop on the 2019 IAAF World Indoor Tour.
Competing before a capacity crowd of 5000 at the Karlsruhe Messehalle, the 26-year-old produced the finest competition of his career, producing a clean card through 2.31m, his second Japanese indoor record of the night. He followed it with two outright national records: first, a second-attempt clearance at 2.33m and then another at 2.35m, which he topped on his third try. But he clearly has more in the tank, as illustrated by a pair of near-misses at 2.37m.
“My goal this season was get the national record but now I’ve already done that,” said Tobe, whose previous indoor best was 2.26m. “My next aim will be 2.40m.”
A two-time national champion, Tobe showed a hint of promise when he took bronze at the 2010 World Junior Championships, but didn’t crack the 2.30m barrier outdoors until last year when he improved to 2.32m.
Wang Yu of China equaled his 2.31m indoor best to finish second. Further back, Bahamian Donald Thomas was third at 2.26m.
Swoboda dashes to 7.08 world lead
Now in its fourth season, the World Indoor Tour is comprised of the six finest indoor meetings on the planet, in which athletes compete for points in designated tour disciplines. Nine were on the programme in Karlsruhe, with world leads emerging in three.
Ewa Swoboda made an auspicious season’s debut en route to her dominant victory in the 60m. The 21-year-old Pole shook the winter rust from her legs with a quick 7.08 dash in the first of two heats, a world lead and just 0.01 shy of the national record she set two years ago.
She fell to her knees in shock in the immediate aftermath, but that wore off as soon as she blasted from the blocks in the final 54 minutes later. Quickly building a clear lead by the midway point, Swoboda forged on to a 7.10 clocking, handily beating pre-race favourite Dafne Schippers, who clocked 7.19 in second.
“I’m very happy and relieved with my time,” said Swoboda, who raced to European indoor silver over the distance two years ago. “I didn’t know where I stood and the pressure to know was high.”
Germany's Rebekka Haase was third, clocking 7.23.
The third world lead of evening came in the final event, the women’s 3000m, courtesy of Briton Melissa Courtney.
The 25-year-old, who took 1500m bronze at last year’s Commonwealth Games, tailed Ethiopians Alemaz Samuel and Gudaf Tsegay for most of the waning laps, before zipping past as she descended from the middle of the final turn. Never threatened as she approached the finish, Courtney clocked 8:43.36, clipping nearly 12 seconds from her previous indoor best.
Samuel was second and Tsegay third, clocking 8:43.78 and 8:46.27, respectively.
Peleteiro rains on Rojas’s return
In the women’s triple jump, the pre-meet focus fell on Yulimar Rojas’s first competition since winning her second successive world indoor title 11 months ago. But as Rojas struggled - sometimes awkwardly - to find her rhythm in the early rounds, Spain’s Ana Peleteiro stole that spotlight with a 14.51m effort in round three, a leap that took control of the competition for good.
But Rojas took up the chase. After opening with a pair of fouls, the Venezuelan played it safe to find the board on her third, reaching a modest 14.18m. She came closest in the fourth round, breaking the sand at 14.45m, to eventually settle for second.
“I’m feeling very good and loved the atmosphere here, but I was having problems with the runway surface,” said Rojas, who has struggled with foot and ankle injuries since last winter. Those problems are behind her, she said; now she’s just waiting to regain the jumping rhythm she’s lost after being sidelined for nearly a year. Her next opportunity for that will be in the Madrid leg of the World Indoor Tour on 8 February.
Patricia Mamona, the Tour winner in 2017, was third with 14.36m, equaling her own Portuguese record.
Nilsson Montler defeats Echevarria
Rojas wasn’t the only reigning world indoor champion to handed a rare defeat.
Like Rojas, Juan Miguel Echevarria struggled with his approach in the long jump, and couldn’t do better than his 8.08m opening round effort. It was just one of three measured leaps the 20-year-old Cuban produced, and the lone effort beyond eight metres.
Conversely, 22-year-old Thobias Nilsson Montler produced the best competition of his young career, reaching 8.08m in the second round and 8.04m in the fifth to beat Echevarria on countback. The Swede improved his indoor best by 17 centimetres and fell just two centimetres shy of his outdoor best.
Deadlock in the pole vault
Just three metres to the right of the jump runway, a fierce battle was waged in the women’s pole vault, one that ended in a three-way draw.
Though she didn’t win outright, the night seemingly belonged to Alysha Newman, who produced five straight clearances through 4.71m, all on her first attempts. That ultimate clearance added one centimetre to her own Canadian record.
World and European champion Katerina Stefanidi and Anzhelika Sidorova, the runner-up at last year’s World Indoor Championships, took an easier approach, jumping and clearing just twice before the bar was raised to 4.78m, a would-be meeting record. While Newman was clearly fatigued by then, Stefanidi and Sidorova had one strong attempt each before taking their final bows. Meeting organisers decided yesterday that there would be no jump-offs, leaving the trio to each gain 10 World Indoor Tour points.
World leader Katie Nageotte topped out at 4.63m to finish fourth.
Kibet and Maslak earn first tour points of the year
Back on the track, Bethwell Birgen made his bid for the 1500m win at the bell, briefly gapping the field by about a metre and a half. But Kenyan compatriot Vincent Kibet was in close pursuit down the backstretch and through the final bend. He pounced with about 40 metres to go, en route to a decisive victory in 3:38.23 to collect his first Tour points of the season. Birgen was next in 3:38.69 with Frenchman Simon Dennisel closing fast to finish third in 3:39.17.
Elsewhere, two-time world indoor champion Pawel Maslak took a clear victory in the 400m, clocking 46.78, nearly half a second clear of Spaniard Oscar Husillos.
Two non-scoring events filled out the programme. Dutchwoman Nadine Visser edged Cindy Roleder in the 60m hurdles by a scant 0.01 in 7.97, a season’s best.
And in the men’s 800m, Swede Andreas Kramer held off USA's Erik Sowinski’s late-race charge in 1:46.52, a personal best. Sowinski clocked 1:46.69.
The World Indoor Tour resumes with the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, on Wednesday (6).
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF