Report06 Feb 2024

Swoboda storms to 60m world lead, Barega and Hailu impress in Torun


Ewa Swoboda wins the 60m at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Torun (© Sergio Mateo Maria)

Polish sprint queen Ewa Swoboda set a world lead in the women’s 60m on a pulsating evening at the ORLEN Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, on Tuesday (6). 

It was just one of five world leads and five meeting records set as the hosts celebrated the event’s 10th anniversary at the latest World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting.

Local favourite Swoboda gave the crowd what they craved most, as she blasted to a 60m win in 7.01. Italy’s Zaynab Dosso ran shoulder to shoulder with the Polish sprinter and was rewarded with a personal best of 7.02. Jamaica’s Shashalee Forbes took third in 7.13. 

“Each time I run, I get faster and faster, which is motivating,” said Swoboda. “I'm glad the Italian woman was pushing me from behind like that. This provided additional motivation to run faster. 

“The Torun hall was great, as usual. I feel at home here, even though it is not my hometown. Today's run is a great forecast before the upcoming Polish Championships and World Indoor Championships. My only goal at the moment is to train in good health for these two events,” added Swoboda, who also clipped 0.02 off her own two-year old meeting record.

In the men’s 3000m, Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega set a world lead and meeting record in the 3000m in a brilliant display of front running, holding off Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase fourth-place finisher Getnet Wale. 

Selemon Barega on his way to 3000m victory in Torun

Selemon Barega on his way to 3000m victory in Torun (© Sergio Mateo Maria)

With the pacemaker peeling away with six laps to go, it looked like anyone’s race as Wale tracked his fellow Ethiopian every step of the way. But, with two laps to go, Wale began to show visible signs of fatigue and the strength of Olympic 10,000m champion Barega told.

The world indoor champion maintained his form right to the finish, sprinting home in 7:25.82 as Wale clocked 7:26.73 – respectively the fifth and ninth fastest times in history. Ireland’s Darragh McElhinney was third in 7:54.02. 

“I expected a good performance here,” said Barega. “My training has been going very well and I have good speed. I set a PB at 1500m here three years ago, so this is a fast track. The world record is possible, but it is sometimes easier to run behind another athlete.” 

Both women’s middle distance races also produced world leads and in the 1500m the top three – Freweyni Hailu, Diribe Welteji and Hirut Meshesha – achieved times that place them third, fourth and fifth respectively on the world all-time list.

Hailu, fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, and world silver medallist Diribe Welteji had a game of cat and mouse, with Welteji seemingly taking charge with three laps left. 

Hailu regained the lead with 400m remaining and Welteji then led at the bell, but Hailu made the decisive burst with 100m to go. She ran strongly to the finish to win by 0.19 in 3:55.28 – moving her to No.3 all time. Welteji followed her in 3:55.47 as Meshesha was third in 3:56.47. The top 10 athletes all set indoor personal bests.

Three-time world indoor finalist Habitam Alemu fed off an enthralled crowd as she won the women’s 800m in a superb world lead of 1:57.86, shaving 0.01 off Keely Hodgkinson’s one-year-old meeting record.

She took over on the penultimate lap and immediately stretched out the chasing pack. Fellow Ethiopian Worknesh Mesele was next home in 1:59.93, a personal best.  

In the field, Andy Diaz extended his own world triple jump lead with a second round meeting record of 17.61m. The two-time Diamond League champion contentedly sat out the next three rounds with victory all but secured, only re-emerging for a final round foul. Portugal’s Tiago Pereira finished second with 17.02m. 

Lieke Klaver set a meeting record in the women’s 400m, bettering training partner Femke Bol’s mark of 50.64 from 2022 by 0.07. 

The Dutch athlete took charge from the start and ran relentlessly to the finish. In her slipstream, second placed Henriette Jaeger was rewarded with a Norwegian record of 51.05 and Great Britain’s Lavai Nielsen also grabbed an indoor personal best with 51.31. 

“It is always good to set a new meeting record. But it doesn't matter that I beat Femke's mark. I'm here for myself,” said Klaver. “I've been running a bit slower over the first lap lately, it's a small difference, but it makes a big difference in the end. I'm hoping I can set a new PB this winter and run faster than 50.3.”

Polish hopes were high in the sprint hurdles events. European indoor silver medallist Jakub Szymanski maintained his strong early season form, dominating the men’s race and winning in 7.48. Italy’s European U23 silver medallist Lorenzo Simonelli was second in 7.56 and Cuba’s Roger Iribarne was third in 7.57. 

The women’s race was a much closer affair.  European 100m hurdles champion Pia Skrzyszowska got the best start. But by the third hurdle, twice European indoor champion Nadine Visser had got on level terms, and she edged clear to win by 0.01 in 7.80. Ireland’s Sarah Lavin was third in 7.92. 

European indoor champion Reetta Hurske was making her first competitive outing of the year. But the Finn was eliminated in the heats after she clattered the second flight and took a nasty looking tumble. 

The women's 60m hurdles in Torun

The women's 60m hurdles in Torun (© Sergio Mateo Maria)

In the men’s 1500m, twice world indoor gold medallist Samuel Tefera ran a composed race to win his first race of the season. He made the decisive break with 100m to go, bursting past fellow Ethiopian Biniam Mehary and South African’s Tshepo Tshite to win in 3:34.61. With his time of 3:34.83, 17-year-old Mehary improved the world U20 record. 

Botswana’s Tshepiso Masalela ran a controlled race to win the men’s 800m, to add to earlier victories in Ostrava and Metz already this season. The African Championships bronze medallist went to the front with two laps to go and was never headed, winning in 1:46.07. 

He was valiantly chased home by Abdelati El Guesse of Morocco and Catalin Tecuceanu of Italy in 1:46:22 and 1:46.64 respectively. 

European 100m bronze medallist Jeremiah Azu cranked up his indoor campaign with a season’s best of 6.57 to win the men’s 60m. Azu didn’t get out of the blocks first, but he finished strongly to grab a confidence boosting win. Poland’s Oliwer Wdowik was second in a personal best of 6.60, just 0.01 ahead of Japan’s Akihiro Higashida. 

The men’s pole vault was won by three-time world medallist Piotr Lisek, who recovered from taking three attempts to clear 5.65m. His first time clearance at 5.75m was enough to win in front of his home crowd. 

Chris Broadbent for World Athletics

• Miss any of the action? Rewatch the meeting in Boston on demand on Inside Track. Geo-restrictions may apply.

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