News13 Feb 2012

Three world leads as middle distances steal the spotlight in Karlsruhe


Close! Edwin Soi and Augustine Choge clock 7:29.94 in Karlsruhe. Choge was given the win. (© Bongarts/Getty Images)

Karlsruhe, GermanyTrack events unexpectedly vied for attention with the marquee disciplines as three world-leading performances came from runners at the Internationales Hallenleichtathletik Meeting (IHM) in Karlsruhe, Germany, on Sunday (12).  

The top event at this IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting, certainly in terms of fan entertainment, was the men’s 3000m which featured a nail-biting finish with Augustine Choge almost being chased down by his Kenyan compatriot Edwin Soi as both were timed in a world-leading 7:29.94. Choge had sprinted ahead at the bell with Soi in rapid pursuit. Off the final turn, Soi made a final charge but fell short of victory by the slimmest of margins. The performances moved the pair into the tenth place all-time for the indoor 3000.  

Last year’s list leader in the event, Yenew Alamirew, took third in 7:31.23 ahead of Eliud Kipchoge (7:32.03).  

Of local interest was the fifth-place finish by Arne Gabius in a Europe-leading 7:38.13, as the German moved past the late Stéphane Franke into second place on his country’s 3000m list, less than a second behind leader Dieter Baumann.  Franke, who died last summer after a brief illness, was remembered during the afternoon program with a tribute from stadium announcer and former Eurosport colleague Wolf-Dieter Poschmann.  

G. Dibaba threatens sub-4:00

Genzebe Dibaba moved to an even higher statistical position in the women’s 1500m with a powerful 4:00.13 performance, also a world leader and the fastest 1500 since the 2008 World Indoor Championships.  It put the Ethiopian in the number-five spot in indoor athletics’ history. As the final pacer departed, Dibaba had a 7-metre advantage over Helen Obiri with three laps left. Over the remaining 600 metres she stretched out her lead and barely missed a sub-four performance.

Obiri held on for second (4:06.25) as Poland’s Angelika Cichocka closed fast to take third in a PB 4:07.83.  

The final season-leading performance came from Bethwel Birgen’s 3:34.65 in the men’s 1500m as the Kenyan ran from the front the entire way and held off Turkey’s Ilham Tanui Özbilen (the former William Tanui Biwott of Kenya), who strengthened his position atop the European season list with a second-place 3:34.76.  

“I was happy that I could repeat my win here from last year,” said Birgen.  “My next big goal is in Istanbul where I hope to win a medal.”  

Gebremehdin Mekonnen of Ethiopia had started a sudden move in the direction of the front-runners with 300 left, but he became blocked by the late-leaving pacer (Ismael Kombich) and his tempo was noticeably interrupted.  Mekonnen was unable to recover but still held on for third with 3:36.05 ahead of Collins Cheboi (3:36.43).  

Majewski prevails in Shot showdown

One of the highly touted events in the run-up to the competition, the men’s shot put was a showcase for Daegu world champion David Storl against a strong international field.  The 21-year-old German moved into the lead in the fourth round with 21.03m, but Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski responded with a Polish-record 21.27m on his fifth throw to capture the win.  Christian Cantwell took third with 20.68m, ahead of Rutger Smith’s 20.45m, the latter’s best indoor performance since 2008 after several years of injury.  

Despite his national record, Majewski felt that there was more to come this year.  “It was of course a good performance, but I think that I have potential to throw even farther,” he said. “In Istanbul, I hope to win a medal and throw something on the order of 21.50.”  

Another stacked event fizzled somewhat.  That was the women’s 60m Hurdles which promised a deep field including Lolo Jones, Carolin Nytra, and Yvette Lewis.  Slowly the event disintegrated starting with Jones’ abdication due to a strain in her lead leg while warming up for the heats. It continued in the final as Nytra false-started after sparkling with a 7.97 in the heats.  In the end, Lewis scored a 7.98 win ahead of Tatyana Dektyareva (8.02) and Loreal Smith (8:06).  

“The track here in Karlsruhe is really fast,” said Lewis, “and it pleased me that I could recover after my third-place in Düsseldorf on Friday night.”

Although finishing sixth in 8.12, Austria’s Beate Schrott brought down her country’s 24-year-old national record of 8.15 on her fifth attempt this season. The old record had been established by Ulrike Kleindl six weeks before Schrott was born.  

Another ancient national record which barely failed to fall was the 400m standard from the Czech Republic.  Pavel Maslak powered his way to the lead with a first-lap 21.36 but his final time of 46.29 just missed the 33-year-old record of 46.21, a goal which appears to be well within his grasp this season.  The second section was seemingly won by Nery Brenes in a sub-46 clocking, but the Costa Rican was later disqualified for a lane violation.  

Selsouli impresses in 3000m

Mariem Selsouli was unchallenged in her women’s 3000m win in 8:36.87, although she was disappointed at not being able to establish a personal best (8:35.86).  “I came here looking for a PB,” she said later, “but after the pacer left, I had to run the final six laps on my own.”  The Moroccan plans to be in Istanbul, but whether she runs the 1500 or the 3000 is still under discussion with her coach.  

Silvia Kibet took second with 8:43.54 as Meselech Melkamu’s 8:43.93 was a close third.  

Silke Spiegelburg easily won the women’s pole vault with 4.68m, and had a creditable attempt at a would-be German record 4.78m to end the evening.  Kristina Gadschiew was second at 4.52m, while Nicole Büchler of Switzerland had to settle for third at 4.42m after a good effort at a national record 4.52m barely missed.  

Irina Gordeyeva’s third-attempt success at 1.93m provided the winning margin in the women’s High Jump as Germany’s Ariane Friedrich continued to make progress in her comeback with a season-best 1.90m to tie for second with Anna Iljustsenko of Estonia.  

PBs for Lalova and Porter

Ivet Lalova lowered her PB in the women’s 60m to 7.16 as she held off Aleen Bailey (PB 7.18) at the finish, with Tameka Williams finishing third in 7.24, also a career best.  

The Bulgarian was frank about the whole experience, saying that “quite honestly the 60 metres is not my favourite distance. I really like the outdoor distances of 100 and 200 much better.  For me, the indoor season is more training than competition.”

Jeff Porter equalled his PB 7.54 in eking out a victory in the men’s 60m Hurdles as three others were in close contention. Konstantin Shabanov, after a PB and Europe-leading 7.52 in the heats, finished second with 7.56, ahead of the 7.59 clockings given to both Emanuele Abate, in third, and Joel Brown.  

“I was lucky tonight,” Porter said, “because in both races I stumbled out of the blocks.  My next race will be in Liévin.  After that, I hope to qualify for Istanbul at the U.S. Championships.”  

After qualifying for the finals, French hurdler Samuel Coco-Viloin appeared to break his right arm severely while warming up for the race.  He was assisted from the infield while obviously in great pain and was taken away in an ambulance.  

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Ed Gordon for the IAAF

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