Dibaba strikes again, Russia take high jumps

Dibaba finishes ahead of the Netherlands' Sifan Hassan (centre) and Britain's Laura Muir.
Dibaba finishes ahead of the Netherlands' Sifan Hassan (centre) and Britain's Laura Muir.PHOTO: AFP

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom (AFP) - Ethiopia's serial record holder Genzebe Dibaba won a fourth consecutive world indoor title when she romped to victory in the 3,000m in Birmingham on Thursday (March 1).

In a memorable opening night of track and field for Russians cleared to compete as neutrals in the wake of the doping scandal that has engulfed their country, Danil Lysenko and the unbeatable Mariya Lasitskene took golds in the men and women's high jump competitions.

Dibaba came to Birmingham as double defending 3000m indoor champion and had also won the 1500m in Istanbul in 2012.

And the 27-year-old favourite made no mistake at the Arena Birmingham, streaking around the blue track for an unprecedented eighth Ethiopian victory in the last nine world indoor 3000m events, Kenya's Hellen Obiri the only blot back in 2012.

Obiri, the world outdoor 5,000m gold medallist who won silver over the distance in the Rio Olympics and also picked up 1500m bronze at the 2013 worlds in Moscow, could only finish fourth this time around.

British hopes rested with European indoor champion Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan, whose mother Liz won silver in 1989. It was eventually Muir who hung on for bronze, a first global medal.

Current world record holder for the 1500m (both indoor and outdoor), the indoor 2000m, the indoor 3000m, the indoor 5000m, the indoor mile, and the indoor two mile, Dibaba was happy to sit at the back as Muir took up the early front running.

Halfway through the 15-lap race on the 200m track, Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen surged, Dibaba moving effortlessly through the field into second, Obiri on her shoulder.

Three laps later, Dibaba pushed the pace as the field split, with Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hassan sticking with the pace.

The final 400 metres saw Dibaba sprint clear, Hassan in second ahead of Muir as Obiri struggled.

Dibaba seemed to pull up slightly in the last frenetic lap, but held on for victory in 8min 45.05sec, with Hassan cleverly shifting across the lanes to deny Muir.

The men's high jump saw a repeat of the London world outdoor competition as Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim, winner in the British capital last summer, faced off with Lysenko.

Barshim landed four perfect jumps before failing three times at 2.36m, leaving the window open for the 20-year-old Lysenko.

The Russian sailed over on his third attempt at 2.36m to ensure Barshim did not regain the world indoor title he won back in 2014. Germany's Mateusz Przybylko claimed a bronze with 2.29m.

"Honestly I didn't expect to win this event," said Lysenko. "I just tried my best to the end of the competition." Barshim added: "I'm happy with the medal but not quite the result." The second Russian/neutral title came in the women's high jump, Lasitskene regaining the world title she shared back in 2014 under her maiden name of Kucina.

Lasitskene cleared a best of 2.01m for her 38th successive competition victory, an incredible record dating back to 2016.

She also went close in three efforts on what would have been a championship record of 2.07.

Defending world champion Vashti Cunningham of the United States took silver on countback from Italian Alessia Trost after both cleared 1.93.