Genzebe Dibaba en route to her 3:57:45 run in Karlsruhe (© Jiro Mochizuki)
Living up to her meeting poster girl billing, Genzebe Dibaba powered to the second fastest indoor 1500m of all time to highlight the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe on Saturday (3), the opening leg of the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Tour.
The Ethiopian's sensational 3:57.45 run was one of five world-leading performances to play out before a vociferous sell-out crowd of 4,500 at the Messe Halle Karlsruhe, but the only one likely to remain atop the world lists, unless Dibaba herself decides to attack it later this season.
Clearly, Dibaba likes to race in Karlsruhe. The Ethiopian set the 3:55.17 world indoor record at this meeting four years ago on the nearby Europahalle track. She clocked 4:00.13 two years prior to that, which is, after this evening, the 10th fastest run of all time.
On this return engagement, she looked like the Dibaba of 2014, attacking her world standard from the gun. She appeared eager early on, testing her patience behind the pacesetter Nelly Jepkosgei, who opened with a 1:01.16 opening 400m. That was well inside the 62.5 in Dibaba's world record run, but too quick for Jepkosgei, who struggled in the waning stages of her 800-metre assignment. The tempo not to her liking, Dibaba forged ahead to go it alone, passing the 800m mark in 2:07.52, a second-and-a-half faster than four years ago.
Unrelenting, her record assault intentions, mere whispers prior to the race, were clear by 1100m. Here the clock read 3:10.57, almost identical to the 3:10.5 en route to her record. Forging on, she finally ran out of steam midway through the final bend, but still managed to finish well under the formidable indoor four-minute barrier for the third time. No other woman can claim that achievement.
While Dibaba went for broke from the outset, the race for second was a contest of patience. Kenyans Beatrice Chepkoech and Winny Chebet tried to maintain for the first 800 metres, but quick paid for those ambitions, both falling back over the next two laps. That played well into the hands of Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who often prefers to run alone. Passing the Kenyan duo, the German, who will celebrate her 21st birthday on 18 February, pushed on to eventually reach the line in 4:04.00, a personal best.
Chepkoech was third in 4:08.33 and Chebet fourth clocking 4:09.45.
Nelvis improves to 7.80
While Dibaba was the meeting's main global attraction, that role’s national counterpart was played by Pamela Dutkiewicz, whose star has risen considerably since she took world 100m hurdles bronze last summer in London. But Sharika Nelvis of the US rained on that parade after she emerged victorious in a blanket finish in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.80, another world lead and nabbing ten World Indoor Tour points.
Her compatriot Christina Manning got out quickest, but Nelvis and German Cindy Roleder drew even by midway. The blitz for the finish veiled the outcome in mystery until a careful reading of the photo gave Nelvis the edge by a scant 0.01 over Manning. Roleder was third in 7.84.
"I feel like there was much room for improvement," said Nelvis, who knocked 0.03 from her previous lifetime best, "but this is my second meet and I'm very satisfied. It's going in the right direction."
Falling behind early, Dutkiewicz was never in the chase and finished well back in fifth clocking 7.95.
5.88m indoor career best for Holzdeppe
While the hurdles didn't bring the home victory, the men's pole vault did, courtesy of Raphael Holzdeppe, who signalled that he could be returning to the best form of his career.
It took a clearance of just 5.70m to whittle the field down to three: the German, world record holder Renaud Lavillenie, and Pole Pawel Wojciechowski. That was the vaulting Pole's limit on the night, but Holzdeppe and Lavillenie had more. Both topped 5.83m with their second attempts but Holzdeppe took command --and thrilled the crowd-- with a flawless clearance at 5.88m, a career indoor best and world lead. He was too tired for serious efforts at 5.95m, but he was pleased to bank the ten-point series win.
Su sizzles 6.47 Asian record
Unlike the women’s 60m hurdles, the outcome of the men’s 60 was never in doubt from the 20-metre point. That’s when China’s Su Bingian shifted a gear to power to a clear lead, one he extended and carried through the finish. His 6.47 performance was an Asian record, eclipsing the 6.50 he set at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016. His performance also equalled the world’s second fastest time this season.
The race for second was close, with Everton Clarke of Jamaica getting the nod over Yunier Perez who were both credited with 6.54. Michael Rodgers of the US was fourth in 6.55.
The women's 60m, not a World Indoor Tour event this season, was considerably closer, with a mere 0.03 separating the first four. Germans Tatjana Pinto and Lisa Mayer, European indoor champion Asha Philip of Great Britain and Swiss Mujinga Kambundji started well, drew nearly even by midway and reached the line virtually inseparable. When the dust settled, the victory went to Tatjana Pinto in 7.10 to add to her early season momentum.
"It was definitely close," said Pinto, who clocked a notable 7.12 in the heats, "so I'm very happy."
Mayer and Philip each clocked 7.12 and Kambundji 7.13 for fourth.
World leads for Gebrhiwet and Mihambo
Hagos Gebrhiwet and Yomif Kejelcha bided their time before pouncing in the men's 3000m to leave Karlsruhe with an Ethiopian 1-2. The pair waited until midway through the final lap before taking command, Gebrhiwet winning in 7:37.91, to close the meeting with its fifth world lead. Kejelcha was next in 7:38.67, a personal best, holding off the Abdalaati Iguider's strong but late finishing charge. The Moroccan clocked 7:39.92 ahead of Adel Mechaal's 7:74.14, a personal best for the Spaniard who took last year's European indoor crown.
Earlier, there was another world lead on the infield, courtesy of Germany's Malaika Mihambo. The European bronze medallist outdoors two years ago celebrated her 24th birthday in style with a 6.72 sixth round leap, adding 18 centimetres to her previous indoor best and winning the competition by just two centimetres from compatriot Sosthene Moguenara, whose 6.70m effort also came in the final round.
Ivana Spanovic, the European indoor champion, was third, reaching 6.61m.
The men's 800m quickly turned into a clash between Pole Marcin Lewandowski and Erik Sowinski of the US, the 2016 world indoor bronze medallist. Sowinski quickly settled in behind the pacesetter, with the Pole just shadowing closely. The order remained the same through the midway point (52.49), until Lewandowski took command just as they approached the bell. The last 100 metres were a thriller, with the pair battling through to the line. In a blanket finish, Lewandowski was given the edge by just 0.01 in 1:46.90 to take the early Tour lead. Spaniard Saul Ordonez snuck by Briton Andrew Osagie to take third, clocking 1:46:96.
Elsewhere, Lea Sprunger dominated the women's 400m in 52.03. Anita Horvat of Slovenia, the winner of the first heat in 52.58, was second.
There was a minor upset in the women's high jump with Olympic silver medallist Mirela Demireva getting the better of Yuliya Levchenko, the 2017 world silver medallist. The 28-year-old Bulgarian improved her lifetime best with a first attempt clearance at 1.95m while the Ukrainian topped out at 1.92m.
The afternoon began with the men’s long jump, won by Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria with a 7.97m effort. German Julian Howard was second with 7.78 leap in the final round, his only measured leap.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF