Sport | A new Dibaba emerges to steal the show in Birmingham

There were many encouraging performances from British athletes at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham. The event was treated by many of those competing as a chance to ramp up their preparations for the World Indoor Championships, which take place next month.

In the 60m, James Dasaolu showed why he is the dominant force in British sprinting, taking the title ahead of compatriot Dwain Chambers – a repeat of last weekend’s British Championships in Sheffield. In the women’s equivalent, Asha Philip did well to push Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Murielle Ahoure very close, but ultimately had to settle for third place.

In the 400m, Nigel Levine claimed a major scalp by comfortably defeating Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos, equalling his personal best time indoors, which was set at the same venue two years ago. Andrew Osagie also looks in good shape heading into next month, narrowly missing out on a top-three finish in a competitive field.

Olympic champion Greg Rutherford, who had a disappointing 2013, managed a best jump of 8.00m, putting him third behind Li Jinzhe and world champion Aleksandr Menkov. Robbie Grabarz, another medallist from London 2012, also came up short in the high jump, which was won by American Erik Kynard.

Two of the standout performances from a British perspective came from Laura Muir and Holly Bleasdale. Muir smashed her own personal best and the Scottish national record to take the women’s 1,500m, pipping Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan to the post. Bleasdale managed to clear 4.70m for the first time this season as she dispatched the competition. After a slight lull in form last year, she will be looking to cement her reputation as one of the best pole-vaulters around.

However, the top performance of the meet came from Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, who has stepped out of the shadow of her older sister Tirunesh and eclipsed the old two-mile indoor record by almost six seconds. She has now broken three world indoor records in the last 15 days and could achieve legendary status in the next few years if she continues in this vein.

The signs are that Britain can build on their total of two golds from two years ago in Istanbul and keep pace with the best athletics nations in the world.

Alex Bowmer

Image courtesy of the Guardian

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