To kick-start our new ‘fab five’ series, we highlight a quintet of world-class performances which were all produced in the first month of the year.
Haile Gebrselassie’s world indoor 3000m record
Karlsruhe, 25 January 1998
The Ethiopian distance king was arguably in his pomp during a triumphant 1998 campaign. And he announced his outstanding form early in the season by obliterating his world indoor 3000m record by more than four-and-a-half seconds in Karlsruhe.
At the Europahalle he completed the 15-lap distance in a blistering time of 7:26.15 and although Kenya’s Daniel Komen lowered the record a mere 12 days later, Gebrselassie’s mark still remains No.2 on the world all-time list.
Steve Backley’s world javelin record
Auckland, 25 January 1992
At an early season meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, the British javelin ace washed away some of the disappointment from the previous year’s World Championships in Tokyo where the pre-event favourite and reigning European champion failed to advance to the final.
Just five months later he bounced back to launch the spear out to a monster 91.46m, adding nearly two metres to his existing world record mark.
Carl Lewis’s world indoor long jump record
New York, 27 January 1984
The US athletics legend had won triple gold at the 1983 World Championships but he gave an early season indication he was in shape to later complete the Olympic quadruple (100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m) at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics by soaring to a majestic world indoor long jump record of 8.79m in New York.
Lewis added 23 centimetres to his own world indoor record. As a measure of the quality of the performance, not only does the world indoor record still stand today but on only one other occasion in his career did Lewis register a legal mark in excess of this distance (at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo).
Tirunesh Dibaba’s world indoor 5000m record
Boston, 27 January 2007
The Ethiopian distance runner produced another staggering performance to wipe five-and-a-half seconds from her own world indoor 5000m record at the Boston Indoor Games.
The three-time Olympic gold medallist – who was paced for some of the race by sister, Ejegayehu – produced a blistering final 400 metres to record 14:27.42 to eclipse her previous world indoor record, which was set at the 2005 edition of the meeting, also in the month of January.
Peter Snell’s world mile record
Whanganui, 27 January 1962
The leading middle-distance runner of his generation produced arguably one of his greatest performances when trimming 0.1 from the world mile record.
Competing on a 353m grass tracks at Cooks Gardens in Whanganui in his native New Zealand, Snell took up the lead just after halfway and went on to stop the lock in 3:54.4, breaking the world record set by Australia’s Herb Elliott three-and-a-half years earlier. During an exemplary career, Snell also won Olympic 800m gold at the 1960 Rome Games and the 800m/1500m double at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Steve Landells for the IAAF