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Giles races to second-fastest indoor 800m as Chepkoech is beaten in Torun

ATHLETICS By World Athletics | February 19th 2021
Athletics - Copernicus Cup - Torun, Poland - February 17, 2021 Britain's Elliot Giles celebrates after winning the men's 800m [REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel]

The nature of his recent victories had hinted at a big breakthrough, but even England’s Elliot Giles appeared surprised when he crossed the line in 1:43.63 to win the men’s 800m at the Copernicus Cup – part of the World Athletics Indoor Tour – in Torun, Poland on Wednesday.

Following his 1:45.5 win in Karlsruhe and 1:45.49 victory in Lievin, the 2016 European bronze medallist had been targeting Sebastian Coe’s British indoor record of 1:44.91, which had stood for almost 38 years.

Giles far exceeded his target, though, and improved Coe’s mark by more than a second, moving up to second place on the world indoor all-time list.

Only the legendary Wilson Kipketer, with his 1:42.67 world indoor record from the 1997 World Indoor Championships, has ever run faster indoors.

Giles positioned himself well for the first two laps and followed the pacemaker, who went through 200m in 23.99 and 400m in 50.14. Once the pacemaker stepped aside, Giles had a comfortable lead and he passed through 600m unopposed in 1:17.28.

Realising he was operating at record pace, Giles cranked up the tempo for the final circuit – covered in 26.35 – and crossed the line a clear winner in 1:43.63.

Fellow Briton Jamie Webb finished second in a huge PB of 1:44.54 – also inside Coe’s previous national indoor record – to move up to ninth on the world indoor all-time list. Andreas Kramer was third in a Swedish indoor record of 1:45.09, while world indoor champion Adam Kszczot was fourth in 1:45.22 – his fastest indoor performance for seven years.

The men’s 800m was one of eight disciplines in which the meeting record fell. And three meeting records were set by Ethiopian middle-distance runners.

Teenager Lemlem Hailu showed her recent Lievin victory wasn’t a fluke as she adopted similar tactics to sprint away from steeplechase world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech on the final lap.

World indoor record-holder Genzebe Dibaba, looking out of sorts, stepped out of the race after just two minutes of running and later limped off the track.

It left Hailu, Chepkoech and Ethiopia’s Fantu Worku in the lead pack, following the pace maker through 1000m in 2:44.60.

The pace dipped slightly in the second kilometre, but it picked up again towards the end. Worku was dropped with two laps remaining, leaving Hailu and Chepkoech to battle it out.

As the bell sounded for the final lap, Hailu kicked past Chepkoech into the front and sprinted away to win in a world-leading 8:31.24. Chepkoech, who set a world record on the roads for 5km last weekend, was second in a PB of 8:31.72 and Worku was third in 8:40.04.

It’s the first time the women’s 3000m had been held at the Copernicus Cup, so Hailu’s winning time was a meeting record by default. [World Athletics]

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