Back in December the International Association of Athletics Federations announced the inaugural World Indoor Tour, an attempt to replicate the relative success of the Diamond League within the context of early-season indoor athletics, offering a points system and $20,000 in prize money to the overall winner of each discipline, and automatic qualification for the World Indoor Championships which will take place in Portland between 17-20 March. Four meets, occurring in quick succession across February, were incorporated into this first iteration of the tour: the Karlsruhe indoor meeting on Saturday 6 February, the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston in Sunday 14 February, the Globen Galan in Stockholm on Wednesday 17 February, and finally this evening’s Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix.
The format of the tour means that only half of the individual indoor championship disciplines will be contested each season. For 2016 that meant the men’s 60 metres, 800 metres, 3000 metres, pole vault, triple jump, and shot put, and the women’s 400 metres, 1500 metres, 60 metres hurdles, high jump, and long jump. Other athletes were still able to compete at the four meets, but they contested their disciplines outside the confines of the World Indoor Tour, their performances subject to neither points nor prizes.
In Glasgow arguably the highlight of the meet came in a non-tour discipline, as the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers headed a talented field of women’s 60 metres sprinters. Winning the race in a time of 7.10, she held off the challenges of Elaine Thompson (Jamaica, 7.14), Ewa Swoboda (Poland, 7.15), Michelle-Lee Ahye (Trinidad and Tobago, 7.16), and Barbara Pierre (United States, 7.17), while Dina Asher-Smith, who broke the British record in finishing fifth in the 200 metres in the final of last year’s World Championships, had to settle for sixth and a time of 7.25, stating afterwards ‘I didn’t feel like my transition was any good so I’ve got a lot to work on’.
Over in the men’s 60 metres, a British one-two saw Sean Safo-Antwi edge Richard Kilty by a hundredth of a second for a winning time of 6.56, while Mike Rodgers of the United States finished back in third. But thanks to victories in Karlsruhe and Boston, and a second-placed finish in Stockholm behind a thirty-nine year-old Kim Collins, it was Rodgers who secured top spot in the tour standings and the full allocation of $20,000.
Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson won the women’s 400 metres in Glasgow ahead of Britain’s Seren Bundy-Davies and the Netherlands’ Lisanne de Witte, but the Dutch athlete came out on top of the tour standings owing to a solitary victory achieved a few days ago in Stockholm. A dominant Adam Kszczot wrapped up a triumphant tour with a comfortable victory in Glasgow in the men’s 800 metres. In the women’s 1500 metres Sifan Hassan returned to winning ways, but her absence from the earlier meets left Ethiopia’s Axumawit Embaye – third in Glasgow – to take overall tour success. And in the women’s 60 metres hurdles a winning performance from America’s Kendra Harrison was not enough to overcome the overall lead already built up by her compatriot Nia Ali.
Mo Farah headed to Glasgow looking for his first competitive victory of the year and a new British record in the men’s indoor 3000 metres. While he achieved the first objective thanks to an easy sprint finish, his winning time of 7:39.55 was not sufficient to topple the 7:34.47 he set in 2009 at the Aviva Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix. Farah explained, ‘At 2000 metres I could see it slowing down and once it slowed down, I was down by three seconds. It would have been hard to go on my own and to go for it. I had to make a decision to win the race or go for fast times’. Second on the night in a time of 7:40.66, Kenya’s Augustine Kiprono Choge claimed the overall tour victory in the discipline.
In the field Lorraine Ugen kept ahead of her British counterpart Shara Proctor to take victory on the night and overall in the women’s long jump, her winning leap in Glasgow a distance of 6.80. And despite finishing in joint fourth in Glasgow behind Italy’s Alessia Trost, Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch of Germany did enough across the meets to finish at the top of the overall standings in the women’s high jump. The men leapt too, as in the pole vault another victory for Canada’s Shawnacy Barber made him $20,000 better off, while in the triple jump Omar Craddock held off some stiff competition from his United States colleague Chris Carter. And although the Emirates Arena in Glasgow incorporated no shot put, Tim Nedow of Canada threw furthest in Stockholm to round off the winners in this first version of the IAAF World Indoor Tour.
Besides the women’s 60 metres, other disciplines were contested beyond the jurisdiction of the World Indoor Tour. Pavel Maslák of the Czech Republic, Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco, and Wenjun Xie of China took comfortable victories respectively in the men’s 400 metres, 1500 metres, and 60 metres hurdles. And Fabrice Lapierre of Australia, a silver medalist last year in Beijing, took advantage of Greg Rutherford’s late withdrawal to leap farther than anyone else in the men’s long jump.
Laura Muir – named Scottish Athlete of the Year for 2015 after finishing fifth in the final of the women’s 1500 metres at the World Championships – was well supported in Glasgow as she ended up just behind Canada’s Melissa Bishop over 800 metres. Closing out the race in a time of 2:00.19, Bishop in the process broke her own Canadian indoor record. And Nancy Chepkemwoi of Kenya beat Sofia Ennaoui of Poland by the narrowest of margins in the women’s 3000 metres, her chest crossing the finishing line a hundredth of a second before her challenger’s for a winning time of 8:49.06.