Obiri bounces back, Birgen clinches Indoor Tour victory
Olympics silver medallist, Hellen Obiri returned to winning ways and set a Kenyan record as the IAAF World Indoor Tour closed at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday night.
Following her defeat in Karlsruhe, the Kenyan tracked the pacemaker through the first kilometre in 2:51.92 and then took up the running about 300 metres later.
World indoor 1500m champion Sifan Hassan was tucked closely behind Obiri and the pair gradually distanced themselves from the rest of the pack during the second half of the race.
Having passed through 2000m in 5:42.27, Obiri continued to lead until Hassan charged to the front going into the final lap.
Hassan’s lead only lasted about 100 metres, though, as Obiri kicked back and sprinted to the finish line in 8:29.41, breaking the national record she set in Karlsruhe and securing the World Indoor Tour win.
Hassan could find some consolation in a Dutch record of 8:30.76. Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum was third in 8:37.65 in a race where 12 of the 14 women set personal bests.
Obiri was the only Kenyan to take the honours at the meeting highlighted by the record setting performance of home runner, Laura Muir in the women 1000m and victory for British double Olympics distance champion, Mo Farah.
Despite finishing third, Bethwell Birgen won the World Indoor Tour in the men 1500m won by American Ben Blankenship who produced a world leading performance on the night.
Blankenship took the lead with 300 metres to go. Birgen momentarily edged back into the front but Blankenship kicked again with 150 metres to go, taking Australia’s Ryan Gregson with him.
Blankenship won in a world-leading 3:36.42 as Gregson set an Australian record of 3:36.50 in second. Birgen was third, but it was enough to hold on to the World Indoor Tour win.
With a European record as his goal, Farah sat behind the early pacemakers, going through 1000m in 2:36.80 and 2000m in 5:15.90.
The field broke up after the 3000m checkpoint, leaving a four-man group out in front with Farah running alongside Kenyan born Bahraini Albert Rop, France’s Morhad Amdouni and Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali.
The crowd roared as Farah took the lead with two laps to go, but the race was far from over as Rop fought back. Farah kicked again with 200 metres remaining and held on to his lead until the finish, crossing the line in a European indoor record of 13:09.16.
Rop set an Asian indoor record of 13:09.43 in second with Amdouni and El Bakkali setting national records of 13:10.60 and 13:11.18 in third and fourth respectively.
Farah confirmed afterwards that it was most likely his last ever indoor race.
“I can’t quite believe it is my last race but I have had a great indoor career,” he said. “It is something that must come to an end. It is weird thinking about it and saying goodbye because I have had great support from everyone and in particular this track where I have broken so many records. It has been amazing over the years.”
-Material from IAAF used to produce this report
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