Report21 Feb 2016

Stefanidi and Payne clear 4.90m at Millrose Games – indoor round-up


Ekaterini Stefanidi at the 2016 Millrose Games (© Kirby Lee)

Even though world indoor record-holder Jenn Suhr was absent, history was made at the Millrose Games in New York as two pole vaulters cleared 4.90m in the same competition with Ekaterini Stefanidi and Demi Payne both going over that height on Saturday (20).

Both women cleared that height on their second attempts at the 109th edition of the historic New York meeting and, after the pair failed three times at 5.00m, the verdict went to Stefanidi on count back, who recaptured her Greek record three days after Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou added one centimetre to her Greek indoor record with 4.81m in Stockholm.

Stefanidi had been flawless prior to 4.90m while Payne – who cleared 4.88m two weekends ago in a collegiate meet in Albuquerque – was left to regret the fact that she needed the full complement of three attempts at her opening height of 4.50m.

The pair are now tied at equal third on the world indoor all-time lists. Sandi Morris finished third with 4.70m.

On the track, the head-to-head between two-time World Championships 1500m medallist Matt Centrowitz and Nick Willis in the famous Wanamaker Mile didn’t disappoint with the American kicking hard off a quick pace on the last lap to defeat the 2008 Olympic silver medallist and set one of the fastest times in history.

Centrowitz produced a last lap of 26.45 to claim his third Wanamaker Mile victory in a meeting record of 3:50.63 to move to fourth on the world indoor all-time list behind three greats of middle-distance running: Hicham El Guerrouj (3:48.45), Eamonn Coghlan (3:49.78) and Bernard Lagat (3:49.89).

Victory in this race still eludes Willis but the New Zealander came away with a national indoor record of 3:51.06 with Great Britain’s Chris O’Hare third in 3:52.91.

Rowbury comes up short in record bid

Shannon Rowbury was bidding to improve on Mary Slaney’s 34-year-old US indoor mile record, and former world indoor record, of 4:20.5 but she fell some way short of this esteemed mark with 4:24.39.

Other world-leading marks in The Armory came from Ajee’ Wilson in the 800m with an indoor best of 2:00.09, Betsy Saina in the 5000m in 14:57.18 and Ryan Hill in the 3000m in 7:38.82.

The men’s 3000m was an especially high calibre race with the top nine finishers running faster than 7:45.

Hassan Mead also slipped under the previous world lead with 7:38.85 with Eric Jenkins third in 7:39.43, both men setting personal bests. US steeplechase record-holder Evan Jager was fourth in 7:40:10 while Mo Ahmed broke Kevin Sullivan’s Canadian indoor record in fifth with 7:40.11.

After opening his season last month with a world-leading 400m mark of 45.20 in a low-key meeting in Texas, Grenada’s Bralon Taplin confirmed this form against top-level competition in New York. The 23-year-old sped to another fast time of 45.35, bettered only by himself indoors this winter, to defeat Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon, who was second in 45.51.

After her win at the opening IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Karlsruhe earlier this month, Natasha Hastings returned to her favourite distance and won the women’s 400m in 51.66.

The short sprints produced a series of noteworthy results as well.

In his first race as a professional, Canada’s world 100m bronze medallist Andre De Grasse won the 60m in 6.61, coming through strong in the closing stages after a poor start.

Allyson Felix, who is preparing for her fourth Olympic Games this summer, looked sharp in winning the women’s equivalent in 7.15, confidently beating world long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta into second place, the latter timed at 7.20.

McLeod and DeLoach impress in the hurdles

In the 60m hurdles, Jamaica’s World Championships finalist Omar McLeod won in 7.46, the second-best time in the world this year, with Ashton Eaton coming within 0.02 of his PB in second with 7.53.

Like McLeod, Janay DeLoach moved up to second on this year's world list when she won the women’s 60m hurdles in 7.85 ahead of her US rivals Brianna Rollins, second in 7.89, with Jasmin Stowers third in 7.93.

Marquis Dendy won the long jump with 8.13m, with Eaton withdrawing from the competition after jumping 7.15m in the second round, while Olympic silver medallist Erik Kynard took the high jump honours with a clearance at 2.30m.

Elsewhere, the super-talented British teenager Morgan Lake failed in her bid to improve on the world indoor U20 pentathlon record in Salamanca, Spain, on Saturday.

After a 60m hurdles PB of 8.63 and a 1.93m leap in the high jump, Lake was 52 points up on PB pace, putting her on course to break the official world indoor U20 record of 4535 held by Carolina Kluft, and potentially challenge the unratified mark of 4635 set by USA's Kendell Williams.

But Lake slipped off record schedule after a throw of 12.97m in the shot put and a jump of 5.89m in the long jump. When she scored her PB of 4527 last year, she had marks of 13.91m and 6.10m respectively in those events.

She made up significant ground in the 800m, setting an outright PB of 2:18.53, and scored 4519, just eight points shy of her own national U20 record.

Nevertheless, it was still the sixth best performance ever by an U20 athlete, and Lake is the only junior ever to have twice totalled more than 4500 points.

Steven Mills for the IAAF