Ahead of the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston later today (26), we look back at five classic moments from the IAAF World Indoor Tour and its precursor, IAAF Indoor Permit meetings.
Genzebe Dibaba’s world indoor 3000m record
Perhaps no athlete has made such a seismic impact on indoor athletics in recent years.
Between 2014 and 2016, the Ethiopian set five world records or world bests at a range of distances (1500m, one mile, 3000m, two miles and 5000m) in a staggering demonstration of awe-inspiring dominance.
Ranking her set of world records is no easy task, but it was perhaps Dibaba’s dismantling of the global indoor 3000m mark in 2014 – just two days prior to her 23rd birthday – which was the most impressive.
Chasing her compatriot Meseret Defar’s world record of 8:23.72, Dibaba was two seconds ahead of world record schedule by half way, and by 2000m (5:34.25) was almost five seconds up. Flashing past the line in 8:16.60, she destroyed the previous mark by more than seven seconds and set an outright African record and fastest time for the distance (indoor or out) since 1993.
Mo Farah’s world indoor best at two miles
The British distance great has racked up gold medals for fun on the global championship stage, but it was on the indoor track in Birmingham when he added a first elusive world best to his spectacular CV with a scintillating display over the rarely run two-mile distance.
Preparing for his race with a seven-week training stint in Ethiopia, Farah needed to run the final 400m in 58 seconds to wrestle the existing mark of 8:04.35 set by Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele on this track in 2008.
Farah delivered, completing the second half of the race within four minutes to stop the clock in 8:03.40, taking almost a full second from Bekele’s mark.
“People have been saying, ‘when are you are going to break a world record?’ It was nice to do it in the UK,” said Farah. “It was very special.”
Susanna Kallur’s world indoor 60m hurdles record
Bedevilled by injury for such a large chunk of her career, the super Swede did, however, for one small window in the 2008 indoor campaign prove invincible.
After setting national 60m hurdles records of 7.75 in Goteborg and 7.72 in Stuttgart prior to Karlsruhe, many predicted the in-form hurdler could threaten Ludmila’s Engquist’s 18-year-old world indoor record of 7.69.
And so it proved. In a perfect demonstration of hurdling wizardly, the two-time European indoor champion stopped the clock in 7.68 to shave 0.01 from the world indoor record.
“This is absolutely unbelievable,” said an ecstatic Kallur. “I can’t put my feelings into words.”
For Kallur it represented the highlight of her career. 11 years on, the mark still stands.
Kenenisa Bekele’s world indoor 5000m record
The serial world record-breaker produced, arguably, the highlight of his indoor career when trimming 0.78 from his compatriot Haile Gebrselassie’s world indoor 5000m record.
Bekele, who was running in only his second ever indoor competition, passed 3000m in 7:47.27 and after hitting 4000m in 10:18 – more than three seconds up on the former mark – he appeared set to cruise to the record.
However, by the bell he had lost all of his banked time and was fractionally off world record pace. Yet digging deep, Bekele covered the final 200m oval in a scintillating 27.06 to cross the line in 12:49.60 – a mark which still stands today as the world indoor record.
“I had to run over half the race on my own which was very hard,” Bekele said in the wake of posting the mark. “I don’t know where the strength came from on the last lap, but the crowd was fantastic.”
Su Bingtian’s Asian indoor 60m record
The Chinese sprinter may not have served up a world record performance inside the Arena-SportPark, but his stunning Asian record time of 6.43 was a hugely meritorious moment.
Su, a world 100m finalist in 2015 and 2017 and the first sub-ten-second 100m sprinter from China, had contemplated the 2018 season being his last in the sport, but a stunning indoor campaign brought an abrupt end to such thinking.
Three days prior to his outing in Dusseldorf, he had blitzed to an Asian 60m record of 6.47 in Karlsruhe. But there was room for improvement at the Arena-SportPark.
Producing a technically accomplished race, Su powered away from the opposition to post his 6.43 clocking, a performance which elevated the 28-year-old to joint fifth on the world indoor all-time list.
“I am surprised by the result,” said Su, who went on to reduce his best to 6.42 when taking the silver medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018. “I never expected it or even imagined it.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF