Jessica Ennis warms up for Istanbul with two encouraging performances, Mo Farah beaten over two miles but sets European record, Shara Proctor beats UK long jump record, while world-leading marks were set by Liu Xiang, Lerone Clarke and Meseret Defar
Jessica Ennis showed she is in the form of her life as the European heptathlon champion delivered a 60m hurdles performance which would put her in to individual medal contention at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
However, the City of Sheffield athlete is firmly focused on the multi-events and her 7.87 performance shows her target of breaking Irina Belova’s long-standing world indoor pentathlon record of 4991 is a realistic ambition next month.
To put the magnitude of Ennis’s performance into context, the world heptathlon silver medallist defeated world 100m hurdles silver medallist Danielle Carruthers by four hundredths of a second and Ennis’s time would have claimed individual gold in four previous editions of the World Indoor Championships.
Ennis followed up her 60m hurdles PB with her second lifetime best of the afternoon in the long jump with 6.47m, just four centimetres shy of her outright PB.
Performances this winter show the pentathlon will be one of the most competitive events in Istanbul. Natalia Dobrynska is back in fine shape having set a Ukrainian indoor pentathlon record of 4880 this season while world champion Tatyana Chernova has opened her year with some of her best-ever marks. Chernova’s compatriot Ekaterina Bolshova also won the Russian indoor title with a world-lead of 4896.
British sweep in the field events
In the long jump though, Shara Proctor took the plaudits as she smashed the long-standing UK indoor record of 6.70m. The UK indoor champion added one centimetre to the record in the third round and, buoyed by the support of the capacity crowd, the former Anguillan sailed out to 6.80m in the final round, just one centimetre short of her outright PB.
She will face tough opposition in Istanbul in the shape of world champion Brittney Reese and Darya Klishina but Proctor, who moves to fifth on the world rankings and within eleven centimetres of the world-leading mark, has established the consistency to make her a firm medal contender next month.
Holly Bleasdale had a slight scare at her opening height of 4.52m but after needing three attempts to clear this height, the 20-year-old sailed clear at 4.70m with room to spare to defeat 2009 world champion Anna Rogowska on countback. The Blackburn athlete has showed remarkable consistency this year and this performance translates to her fourth competition over 4.70m this winter.
Robbie Grabarz had a slight blip at the trials but the Bedford & County athlete showed some of the form which took him to No.3 on the UK indoor all-time rankings. Grabarz enjoyed first-time clearances at 2.29m and 2.32m to defeat Slovakia’s Michal Kabelka by a commanding distance.
JJ Jegede scored some great scalps in the long jump and the UK indoor champion also achieved the only eight-metre jump of the competition with 8.04m, a lifetime best mark. Trailing Jegede were Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena from South Africa, third in 7.89m, and European junior record-holder Eusebio Caceres from Spain, fifth in 7.78m.
Farah beaten but claims European record
The crowd came expecting to see Mo Farah close the afternoon with victory in the two miles, but despite the best efforts of the crowd, the world 5000m champion was outsprinted by Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, who came to this race in good form and fresh from a recent 3000m season’s best of 7:32.03.
Farah, who admitted he felt a little bit heavy-legged in the closing stages, dropped down to fourth at one point but despite a last-lap rally, the double European champion couldn’t catch Kipchoge, who moved to No.5 on the world indoor all-time rankings with 8:07.39.
Farah, whose mile splits were recorded at 4:05.6 and 4:02.5 respectively, was still rewarded with a UK and European record of 8:08.07 to move into the world indoor all-time top-10.
Clarke and Madison remain unbeaten in 2012
Asafa Powell said “a good time was overdue” in the pre-meet press conference and even though the former world 100m record-holder came away with a pair of 6.50 PBs, Powell was beaten in to third in the final by compatriots Lerone Clarke (6.47) and Nesta Carter (6.49).
Powell didn’t enjoy the best of starts in the final while Clarke, who was fastest out of the blocks, maintained his indoor unbeaten streak in finals in 2012.
Tianna Madison continued to impress in the 60m with another pair of fair fast times. Fresh from wins over Veronica Campbell-Brown and Allyson Felix in Fayetteville last week, Madison opened her account with 7.11 in the heats followed by victory in the final in 7.07.
Fastest out of the blocks, Ivet Lalova improved her PB from 7.16 to 7.14 while Ezinne Okparaebo set a Norwegian record of 7.17.
Making amends for a false start which ruled her out of the final at the trials last weekend, Asha Philip finished fourth in a PB of 7.19 to move to equal fourth on the UK indoor all-time rankings.
Liu Xiang hasn’t raced since the World Championships but the former Olympic champion has clearly wintered well. The Chinese superstar defeated an accomplished field in the 60m hurdles with a national record of 7.41 with Dayron Robles, suffering his second defeat in the past week, second in a season’s best of 7.50.
Andrew Pozzi was the best of the Brits in the final, finishing seventh in 7.71 although he equalled his PB of 7.62 in the heats.
GB dominate 400m
Nery Brenes looked on course for victory in a very fast time in the 400m, but the Costa Rican – who was disqualified in Karlsruhe on Sunday – tripped on the curb in the home straight and fell out of contention. This allowed UK indoor champion Nigel Levine to take a repeat victory and the European under-23 champion scored an outright PB of 45.71 to move to equal fifth on the UK indoor all-time rankings.
The meeting started with a bang as Richard Buck fought off Conrad Williams with a 45.88 PB in the national 400m race. Passing through the halfway point in 21.33 – faster than his 200m PB – Buck lowered his three-year-old lifetime best from 46.22. Williams was also rewarded with a PB of 46.20 while European silver medallist Michael Bingham had a better run, finishing third in a season’s best of 46.69.
Shana Cox made it a British double with victory in the women’s equivalent in 52.18.
Defar and Dibaba impress
Ethiopia took a brace of victories in the middle distances, starting with Mohamed Aman’s national indoor record of 1:45.40 in the 800m. The 18-year-old lunged past European champion Marcin Lewandowski from Poland to win by one-hundredth while Joe Thomas and Andrew Osagie delivered PB performances in fourth and fifth.
Thomas was forced to relinquish his unbeaten streak this winter but the Welshman smashed his PB with 1:46.35 while Osagie opened his year with a PB of 1:46.53. They move to No.5 and No.6 on the UK indoor all-time lists respectively.
Meseret Defar narrowly missed Sentayehu Ejigu’s stadium record in the 3000m although the Athens Olympic champion revised her world-leading mark of 8:33.57. The Ethiopian, who is aiming for her fifth world indoor title next month, posted a 31-second final lap to claim victory in 8:31.56.
Helen Obiri from Kenya set a PB of 8:35.35 for the runner-up spot with Gelete Burka also under 8:40. Helen Clitheroe spent most of the race in no-man’s land but still clocked a respectable 8:48.58.
Team-mate Genzebe Dibaba smashed the stadium record in the 1500m. Dibaba, who was initially supposed to go head-to-head with Defar over this distance, clocked 4:01.33 while Hannah England came through in the closing stages to take the runner-up spot in 4:09.79.
Nixon Chepseba prevailed ahead of a strong field in the 1500m. The Kenyan set a season’s best of 3:34.70 to outsprint long-time leader Bethwel Birgen while Andy Baddeley led a spate of British indoor PBs in fifth in 3:37.16.
Finally, Angelika Cichocka from Poland won the 800m in a season’s best of 2:01.90. Marilyn Okoro, who approached this race in a much more conservative manner, got boxed at the bell but ducked under the qualifying time for Istanbul in third in 2:02.62.