Double Olympic, World and European champion Mo Farah (Alberto Salazar) brought the capacity crowds to their feet as he stormed home to set a new world indoor record over two miles at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday 21 February.
Competing in only his first race of the year, Farah stepped up the pace with six laps remaining and was cheered on all the way as he pushed to the line to beat the previous record held by Ethiopia’s former Olympic and world champion Kenenisa Bekele.
Farah’s time of 8:03.40 was almost a second faster than Bekele’s mark set back in 2008, and rounded off a superb day of indoor athletics at the Barclaycard Arena, with no fewer than seven British winners.
“It feels amazing to break the world record. I belong on the track so it’s nice to be back. It’s different training for a world record than training for the championships – I wanted to see what I could do as we’d targeted the world record.
“Training’s gone pretty well – I’ve been out in Ethiopia for seven weeks and I knew I’ve trained well so I was confident. I’ll now fly home tomorrow to see my family and celebrate with them.”
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Mike Holmes) had already given the crowds plenty to cheer about, setting a new British indoor record in the long jump to add to the national high jump record she set when winning the Sainsbury’s Indoor British Championships last weekend. Better known as a world class multi-eventer, Johnson-Thompson – who clinched world indoor long jump silver last year – proved she is also a highly talented long jumper in her own right, leaping to 6.93m on her third attempt.
“I am delighted to get the British record in the long jump, after doing it in the high jump last week too; things are going really well at the moment and it gives me confidence going ahead.
“I think I am used to different events being a heptathlete; it’s good to do all the different events before I actually do a heptathlon, so it has worked out well.”
Reigning Olympic, European and Commonwealth champion Greg Rutherford (Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo) also triumphed in the men’s event, setting four new indoor personal bests on his way to long jump victory. The 28-year-old kick-started the competition with a personal best of 8.03m, and continued to improve through the rounds, soaring out to 8.17m with his final jump to push China’s national champion Xinglong Gao in to second place.
“It’s a great place to be – it’s wonderful to come out and jump so well.”
“Taking this as my first competition of the year though, things are looking good. I’ve been doing a lot faster, more responsive weight training – not necessarily lifting heavier weights. But I feel in good shape and that’s always good at this point of the year.”
Jenny Meadows (Trevor Painter) continued her terrific run of form with a comfortable win in the 800m. The 33-year-old, who clinched her seventh indoor British Championship title last weekend, clocked 2:01.25, whilst Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Ayo Falola) was fourth in 2:02.96. Meadows commented afterwards:
“I’m feeling very confident ahead of Prague. I’ve proved to myself that I can run well off different tactics. Today didn’t go to plan but I felt very strong in the last 200m.”
Nigel Levine (Linford Christie) looked in terrific form as he led all the way to win the men’s 400m with a season’s best 46.43.
The 25-year-old, who secured a record fifth British indoor title in Sheffield last weekend, will be heading to the European Indoor Championships hoping for further success. Joining him on the plane to Prague is Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt), who secured his place on the GB & NI team finishing second behind Levine in 46.67.
“It didn’t all go as I planned but I’m so glad to get the win out here today against a good field,” said Levine after his race.
“I’m confident now going ahead to the European Indoors in Prague in a couple of weeks’ time. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) is another athlete showing great form this year, and she proved it again on the Birmingham track as she stormed home to win the women’s 400m. The 20-year-old controlled the race from the gun, smashing her indoor best as she crossed the line in 51.72. She heads to Prague now as the leading European.
“I can’t really believe it. I knew I was in low 52 shape so I’m over the moon to hold it together. After last week, [where she fell in Sheffield] I came here with the intention to get a good time and prove myself.”
Allan Smith (Bryan Roy) was one of five athletes to clear 2.26m in a thrilling men’s high jump competition; good enough for victory as the only athlete to clear each height with his first attempt.
“I am pleased with the win, the height I was a bit disappointed with. I would have liked to go higher, however the season has gone well and now I will just push on before the Europeans.”
With Antigua’s Daniel Bailey and the USA’s Michael Rodgers disqualified for false starts, 38-year-old Kim Collins stormed home to win the men’s 60m, clocking 6.50 just ahead of young Briton Chijindu Ujah (Tawiah-Dodoo) who clocked 6.55.
Rachel Johncock clocked 7.29 to finish eighth in a highly competitive women’s 60m, just 0.19 seconds behind the winner Murielle Ahoure from the Ivory Coast, who leads the world rankings this year.
However Johncock’s time of 7.24 in the heats was a new personal best, and 0.01 seconds inside the qualifying standard required for the European Indoor Championships. Naturally she was delighted.
“Today has been absolutely brilliant! I am really pleased with how today has gone, a new PB, European qualifying, I can’t ask for more! The field today was amazing, and I have loved the crowd here – Birmingham has been superb.”
Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold) finished strongly in the men’s 60m hurdles, dipping over the line to finish second behind Kevin Craddock of the USA. Clarke clocked 7.62 ahead of Americans Jarret Eaton and Aries Merritt.
“That is my second fastest time of the year so I’m delighted. I came here and beat the Olympic Champion Aries Merritt – last time we raced, he ran the world record and I was 10 metres behind. This time I was competitive and challenging the world’s best.”
In the women’s 60m hurdles, Lucy Hatton (Jerzy Maciukiewicz) followed up her silver medal at last weekend’s Sainsbury’s Indoor British Championships with a third place finish in Birmingham, clocking 8.11 behind the USA’s Sharika Nelvis who stormed home with the fastest time in the world this year, 7.87.
“I’m really pleased to finish in third but I’m disappointed with the time,” said Hatton, who needed to clock 8.05 to achieve the standard required to qualify for the European Indoor Championships in Prague next month.
“I came out today and did the best I could. Hopefully I’m showing people I am competitive at the moment. I just really wanted that time today. I’d love to go to European Indoors but I don’t think I will do as I’ve just missed out on the time.”
Guy Learmonth (Henry Gray), James Bowness (William Parker) and Mukhtar Mohammed also achieved the qualifying standard for the GB & NI team, finishing seventh, eighth and ninth respectively in the men’s 800m. The race was won by Kenya’s Jeremiah Mutai in 1:45.93. Learmonth, the first Briton over the line, set a new personal best of 1:47.38 just one week after clinching the British title.
“The first goal today was to get the qualifying time and earn selection for my first GB & NI senior team, so that’s a big tick for me. I’d have loved to have run a lot faster but it is still an indoor PB.”
Tunisia’s world and Olympic silver medallist Habiba Ghribi quickly took control of the women’s 3,000m, and never looked in doubt as she crossed the line with a personal best 8:46.61. Laura Muir (Andy Young) was the first of the Britons home, finishing sixth in 8:54.07. Axumawit Embaye of Ethiopia set a new all-comers record in the women’s mile, clocking 4:23.50, whilst Kenya’s Vincent Kibet clinched victory in the men’s 1,500m with 3:34.91. Lee Emanuel (Joe Franklin) was the first Briton home, finishing in sixth place with a new personal best of 3:35.66.
Victory in the women’s pole vault went to European bronze medallist Nikolia Kyriakopoulou with a Greek record clearance of 4.80m. Former World Indoor champion Fabiana Murer cleared 4.70m for second, while Great Britain’s Sally Peake (Scott Simpson) cleared 4.15m before sadly withdrawing through injury.
Full results can be found here: https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/british-athletics-series/sainsburys-indoor-grand-prix/event-schedule/
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