Ethiopia’s Tefera sets 1500m indoor world record

Updated February 18, 2019

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BIRMINGHAM: Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria competes on his way to winning the men’s long jump at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix.—Reuters
BIRMINGHAM: Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria competes on his way to winning the men’s long jump at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix.—Reuters

BIRMINGHAM: Ethiopian teenager Samuel Tefera outduelled compatriot Yomif Kejelcha to break the world indoor 1,500 metres record in Birmingham on Saturday.

Tefera, 19, clocked three minutes, 31.04 seconds at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting to take down Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj’s 1997 record of 3:31.18.

It came on the same Birmingham track where Tefera had won the world title last year. Tefera kicked past Kejelcha after the bell for the final lap and charged to the finish line. Kejelcha finished second in a personal best of 3:31.58.

Kejelcha, the 21-year-old two-time world indoor 3,000m champion, had come within 0.01 of the world indoor mile record last week in New York. He had announced before Saturday’s race he would be going for the 1,500m record.

And with pacemakers taking the field through 800m in 1:52.70 and 2:49.28 at the 1200m mark, Kejelcha was on course for a record.

But Tefera was tucked in on his shoulder and, as the bell sounded for the final lap, he kicked past his countryman and charged towards the line.

“I can’t believe that,” Tefera said. “I’m delighted with the outcome and to have the world record is a special feeling.”

El Guerrouj still holds the outdoor world record of 3:26.00, set in 1998.

Britain’s Laura Muir also pleased the home crowd by beating the nat­ional women’s indoor record in the mile, which had stood since 1988.

Muir finished in four minutes, 18.75 seconds, shaving more than five seconds off the old mark set by Kirsty Wade 31 years ago. It was the third fastest indoor mile of all time by a woman.

“To run one of the fastest runs ever, a British record and a win in your final race before the [European] championships is perfect,” Muir said.

The world record is 4:13.31 by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba in 2016.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2019