(Reuters) – Double Olympic champion Mo Farah continued his build-up to the Rio Games by breaking David Moorcroft’s 34-year-old British record in the 3,000 meters at a Diamond League meeting in Birmingham on Sunday.
Farah, the 5,000 and 10,000m gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, won in seven minutes 32.62 seconds after striding out at the front in a determined effort to beat Moorcroft’s 1982 time of 7:32.79.
“Did I get it?,” the 33-year-old, who pulled out of the meet last year after being angered by allegations surrounding his coach Alberto Salazar, who denied violating anti-doping rules, asked a BBC interviewer.
“That’s incredible… I thought I’d just missed it. It was a bit tight on the last lap, I had to dig in,” added Farah, who paid tribute to his boyhood hero Muhammad Ali before the race by striking a boxing stance.
Former Olympic and world heavyweight champion Ali died on Friday aged 74 and Sunday’s meeting held a minute’s applause for the man known as ‘The Greatest’.
“He was a big hero of mine and I send all my condolences to his family and friends,” said Somali-born Farah, who will defend his titles in Rio in August.
Kenya’s Mathew Kiptanui was second in 7:44.16 with compatriot Hillary Maiyo third.
Kenyan David Rudisha, the Olympic 800m champion and world record holder, ran the second fastest 600m ever with his time of 1:13.10, not far off the world best of 1:12.81 in the little-run distance. He felt he could have gone faster.
“I think I lost it in the last 100 meters,” he said.
Apart from Farah and Rudisha, there were four other world leading times at the meet including for Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya in winning the men’s steeplechase in 8:00.12 and for his compatriot Asbel Kiprop who took the 1,500 in 3:29.33.
Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim won the men’s high jump with a world leading leap of 2.37 meters, while Cuba’s Yarisley Silva produced a year’s best of 4.84 in the women’s pole vault.
Britain’s Greg Rutherford, another 2012 Olympic champion, was beaten in the long jump for the first time since last July.
He said after his jump of 8.17 left him fifth, with American Marquise Goodwin winning comfortably with a mark of 8.42, that he was struggling with a “mild neck injury” from the previous round in Rome last week.
“We have tried to get it 100 percent ready in time. Sadly I have made it worse on the first landing and I am currently unable to move my neck,” he said.
“The doctor thinks it is a bad whiplash but it won’t affect my Olympic bid. I am positive the British Athletics medical staff will be able to fix it over the next week.”
Australia’s Sally Pearson, the Olympic 100 meters hurdles champion, made her competitive return a year after shattering her wrist in a fall in Rome but finished seventh in a race won by American Kendra Harrison in 12.46 seconds.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)