Ethiopian adds 1500m title to 3000m win as Muir secures second medal in Birmingham, while Kevin Mayer and Will Claye gain golds
Genzebe Dibaba was chasing her fifth world indoor gold medal following her success in Thursday’s 3000m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham and she did it with another incredible performance with amazing finishing speed.
Sifan Hassan and Laura Muir – the other 3000m medallists – joined her in action along with a supposedly fresh Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech, who won the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in an impressive 4:02.21 to lie second in the world rankings behind Dibaba’s 3:57.45.
Muir had won 3000m bronze behind Hassan and this time the Scot proved the better to finish just under a second down on Ethiopian world record-holder Dibaba.
The race started with a jog – 39.25 for the first 200m, which is only just inside five-minute pace, and picked up slightly through 400m in 76.48.
It was Dibaba who this time lost patience with the dawdle and she picked up the pace through 600m in 1:49.96.
Now Dibaba was operating at a mind-boggling 3:42 pace as she was running sub 30-second laps as she went through 800m in 2:20.81 and it was down to six runners to fight for the gold.
The third 400m through to 1200m was run in a vicious 59.77 but still Hassan, Muir and Chepkoech were holding on to the frantic pace.
The next 200m was run in 29.47 and that went away from Hassan. Down the back straight, Muir passed Hassan and briefly began to close on the leader.
Dibaba is special though and completing the last 800m inside two minutes she won in a superb 4:05.27.
“I am so happy to be able to do the double,” said Dibaba. “Last year I was sick but this time I was ready to run for my country.
“Laura was very strong but I am in good shape and that is why I won it. This is a gold for all the people of Ethiopia too.”
Muir was a brilliant second in 4:06.23 to take Britain’s first medal in this event since Kelly Holmes in Birmingham in 2003.
Hassan was a second back in third and such was the vicious pace, there was a huge four second gap to fourth and USA’s Shelby Houilihan, which meant all the top four had run in Thursday 3000m race.
“I ran my socks off,” said Muir. “I was trying to stay strong and controlled.
“I’ve finished fourth, sixth and seventh in world finals before so to win two medals this time around is amazing; it is about time!”
Given the bad weather conditions, earlier in the week she feared she might not even make it to Birmingham from Scotland. “I’m so glad that we made it down,” she added. “I think it was worth the trip!”
.@lauramuiruns chats about her @WICBham2018 🥈🥉 success, juggling athletics with her veterinary degree and how earlier in the week she feared she might not even make it to the Champs… “I’m so glad that we made it down. I think it was worth the trip!” #IAAFworlds pic.twitter.com/jLlV98JHaz
— Athletics Weekly (@AthleticsWeekly) March 4, 2018
Heptathlon win for Mayer
The 1000m completed the seven-event programme and victory went to Katarina Johnson-Thompson’s training partner, the world decathlon champion Kevin Mayer.
The Frenchman started the race with a 34 point lead which equates to around three seconds and he held on but only just.
After a slow first 200m lap, the second-placed overall Damian Warner pushed on and had a small lead as he passed 400m in 63.42.
He kept the pressure on through the third lap which he also completed inside 31 seconds as he led through 600m in 1:34.14 and Mayer was desperately trying to stay within some sort of contact though was over 10 metres back
Warner slowed to 31.96 for the fourth lap to pass 800m in 2:06.10 and then kicked again to go away and now it was clearly going to be very close. His last lap was a strong 31.02 and he powered through the line in a PB 2:37.12 Mayer really struggled in the last 30 metres and went through the line in 2:39.64.
It meant he held on to win with a world-leading score of 6348 with Warner setting a Canadian record of 6343 for the silver medal and the best world indoor runner-up score since 2004.
“It was a difficult one,” said the winner. “KJT won, so I had to win because she trains with me. Thank you to the crowd. The competition was crazy.”
Warner said: “The goal is always to win and five points is always a bit upsetting but at the end of the day I put myself in a position to challenge for the medal and I am proud of the effort I put forward.”
Kaz Kazmirek started in bronze medal position with a 13 point advantage over Maicel Uibo but the Estonian chased Warner home in 2:38.51, over three seconds ahead of the German which was enough to snatch bronze with a PB 6265 by 27 points.
USA, who had won six of the last eight titles and also won three silver medals could do no better than Zachery Ziemek’s sixth.
Claye regains title in close contest
The 2018 world rankings suggested this would not be a classic in terms of distance with Almir dos Santos heading them with a mere 17.37m win in Lievin but the fact that there were plenty of other jumpers within range suggested this should be a competitive event. It was.
It started modestly enough with a lot of no jumps but the round ended well.
Double Olympic silver medallist Will Claye took the lead with a 16.89m but that was easily surpassed by the last of the 15 jumpers Nelson Evora. The 2008 Olympic champion, who has won the last two European Indoors and is still in great form at the age of 33, went out to a 17.14m.
That did not last the second round as former Cuban, Alexis Copello, now in the colours of Azerbaijan, edged by early in round two with a 17.17m.
That stayed ahead most of the round but then dos Santos edged ahead with a 17.22m and just eight centimetres covered the medallists as Evora fouled his second jump.
Evora responded well with a 17.40m Portuguese record – set 10 years earlier – to take the lead in the third round.
It was all change again in round four though as Claye went out to 17.43m to edge past Evora.
Claye himself went close with a 17.35m jump but near the end of the round Dos Santos improved his PB to 17.41m to go second, just two centimetres off the lead.
Claye started the final round with a 17.31m but the other three jumpers could do nothing special and the American had regained the title he last won in 2012.
» See the March 8 issue of AW for full coverage from Birmingham