Shawn Barber at the 2016 Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix (© Getty Images)
After a surprisingly indifferent string of results in recent weeks, Canada’s world pole vault champion Shawn Barber returned to form in front of a capacity crowd at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix, which hosted the fourth leg of the IAAF World Indoor Tour, and went over 5.89m on Saturday (20).
Thiago Braz, who went over a South American record of 5.93m in Berlin a week ago, surprisingly left the competition at 5.77m, the Brazilian scraping over at his opening height of 5.60m on his third attempt.
By contrast, Barber looked imperious clearing 5.77m and 5.89m on his first attempts before three solid attempts at what would have been a national record of 6.01m.
“It’s a great feeling to come out here and jump well,” said Barber, who is advised by retired six metre-plus vaulter and 1999 world indoor silver medallist Jeff Hartwig. The American was in the stands on the far side of the arena watching his charge in action.
“It is the biggest year you could ask for; we have the World Indoor Championships next month and it’s Olympic year so hopefully it is going to come together,” added Barber, who also finished second in Karlsruhe and in Boston earlier this month, the first and second stops of the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Tour.
Barber was already confirmed as the overall winner of the men’s pole vault on the tour but he won’t have too much time to celebrate this feat. He is travelling to Clermont in France where a head-to-head with Olympic champion and local star Renaud Lavillenie beckons tomorrow afternoon.
Lorraine Ugen also sealed a tour win in the long jump, courtesy of a victory in a largely domestic battle.
Ugen finished fifth at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 to Shara Proctor’s second but the 24-year-old has now beaten her more esteemed compatriot twice in the space of four days.
Having finished second in Stockholm with 6.71m on her season’s opener, Ugen surpassed that mark with an indoor best of 6.80m in the fifth round but Proctor didn’t give up without a fight.
She followed Ugen’s decisive jump with 6.76m in the fifth round and 6.72m in the final round.
Schippers delivers, Safo-Antwi surprises
Dafne Schippers duly extended her winning streak in the build-up to the World Indoor Championships, where the Dutchwoman will start as the commanding favourite to add the 60m title there to her world 200m title from Beijing last summer.
Schippers didn’t get out of the blocks particularly well in the final but she cut through the field in the last 30 metres to claim victory in 7.10 ahead of world 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson from Jamaica, who had to settle for second behind Schippers again on her indoor debut in 7.14.
Kim Collins said in Stockholm he was capable of running under 6.50 this winter and such a time looked on the cards based on his heat in which he posted a season’s best of 6.51.
But two races in the space of an afternoon might have taken their toll on the 39-year-old. He pulled up with cramp in the final and had to be stretchered off the track.
With Collins limping through the line, British sprinters took first and second through Sean Safo-Antwi and Richard Kilty in 6.56 and 6.57 respectively.
The winner might not be a particularly well-known name internationally but Safo-Antwi has lowered his best to 6.55 and is unbeaten in seven races this winter.
US sprinter Mike Rodgers finished third in 6.60 but sealed the overall win in this event.
Kendra Harrison claimed her second win of the tour in the women’s 60m hurdles in another fast time of 7.92 but the overall series win went to world indoor champion Nia Ali, who finished second in 7.98.
Even though Ali has lost both of her races against Harrison, the 27-year-old topped the rankings by virtue of three runner-up finishes which brings her tally to 21 points to Harrison’s 20 points.
The favourites in the men’s 60m hurdles came to grief. After a great start, Yordan O’Farrill clattered the first hurdle with his trail leg and finished seventh in 7.82 while French record-holder and world leader Dimitri Bascou suffered a similar demise over the last flight and stumbled through the line in third in 7.71.
China’s Xie Wenjun didn’t succumb to any such mishaps and claimed a surprise win in 7.63.
Maslak survives fast start to win the 400m
Aggressive tactics were on show in the men’s 400m with Pavel Maslak, Chris Brown and Rusheen McDonald racing for the front.
The halfway point was reached in a scintillating 20.58 with Brown stubbornly holding the inside line ahead of a competitive Maslak, who overhauled the veteran on the top bend of the second lap.
Maslak, who will be defending his world indoor title in Portland next month, powered to a season’s best of 46.02 while Brown and McDonald succumbed badly to the lactic, finishing fourth (46.80) and sixth (49.38) respectively.
In the women’s equivalent, indoor newcomer Stephenie-Ann McPherson from Jamaica recovered from a knock on the final bend to overhaul home favourite Seren Bundy-Davies, 52.05 to 52.10.
Lisanne De Witte from the Netherlands finished quickly to claim third place in a lifetime best of 52.49, which was enough to top the overall tour standings in this event thanks to her win in Stockholm on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, Omar Craddock sealed top spot in the triple jump standings courtesy of back-to-back wins in Boston and Glasgow. After opening his season with 16.82m last Sunday, he set the best mark of this competition in the fourth round with 16.93m.
Lavern Spencer and Alessia Trost both cleared 1.93m in the high jump and shared the honours on the day. In fourth, Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch didn't add to her points tally in the tour standings, but had already done enough to win the series.
Steven Mills for the IAAF