European indoor and outdoor champion Keely Hodgkinson maintained her sizzling indoor season form, winning the 800m in a world leading 1:57.18 at the World Indoor Tour Final in Birmingham on Saturday (25) afternoon.
She was one of three athletes to set British records at the Utilita Arena alongside Neil Gourley and Dina Asher-Smith in the 1500m and 60m respectively.
Asher-Smith generated the first roar of the day from the partisan crowd when breaking her own national record in the heats. She clocked 7.03, shaving 0.01 from the record she set in Karlsruhe last month.
She returned just over an hour to win the final in 7.05, powering clear of British rival Daryll Neita, who was second in 7.13. World 200m champion Shericka Jackson was among those left in Asher-Smith’s wake, placing fourth in 7.18.
Asher-Smith will now cool off her racing spikes until the outdoor season while European 100m bronze medallist Neita shifts her focus to Istanbul.
The European Athletics Indoor Championships from 2-5 March remain firmly in the sights of Hodgkinson who made a bold attempt on Jolanda Ceplak’s near 20-year-old world record of 1:55.82. She was left to run alone from the 500-metre point and reached the bell in 1:27.56.
But with her rivals well adrift, she only had an enthused crowd to feed from. She still delivered a truly world-class run, improving her world lead and national record to 1:57.18.
Australian Catriona Bisset was second in 1:58.83 with Great Britain’s European U23 champion Isabelle Boffey third in 2:00.25.
The men’s 1500m was arguably the race of the day with Gourley and fellow Scot Josh Kerr early to commit to a true run race.
Olympic bronze medallist Kerr took over from the pacemaker with 500m to go with Gourley poised on his shoulder. Kerr maintained his lead through the bell, but ran out of steam with around 150 metres to go.
Gourley stormed past and ran strongly to the finish, winning in 3:32.48, a national record and the second fastest time in the world this year behind Norway’s Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s time of 3:32.38.
It was also a fruitful race for the second and third placed athletes - Adel Mechaal of Spain and Andrew Coscoran of Ireland - who were both rewarded with national records in 3:33.28 and 3:33.49 respectively, whetting the appetite for another thriller in Istanbul. Kerr faded to fifth in 3:34.93.
Expectation is always high when Olympic and world 1500m medallist Laura Muir hits the track in her home country. The Scot was making another attempt on Maria Mutola’s 23-year-old world record of 2:30.94.
It was always a tall order, and after going through 600m in 1:29.36, she endured a torturous final two laps alone. But she prevailed in 2:34.53. Romania’s fast finishing Claudia Bobocea clocked a Romanian record of 2:35.35 - breaking Doina Melinte’s long-standing mark of 2:36.91 - in second with Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui third in another national record of 2:35.69.
All three athletes will be contesting the 1500m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul where Muir is seeking her fifth title.
Full results here.
Chris Broadbent for European Athletics