• Aviva Grand Prix

Ennis on song but Farah is beaten

ESPN staff
February 18, 2012

Jessica Ennis set a personal best and ran the fastest time in the world this year to win the 60m hurdles at the Aviva Grand Prix on Saturday.

Ennis, coming off victory in the same event in the UK Trials & Championships last week, ran 7.87 seconds in Birmingham - as World Championships runner-up Danielle Carruthers finished second.

"I am literally in shock," Ennis told BBC Sport. "To go to [7.]87 was incredible. I know training had been going well and I had been working on my starts, but to run that time in Birmingham - I am so happy.

"It was great to come here because I knew it was going to be a strong field, and running against Danielle pushed me here all the way and got me my PB."

The heptathlete subsequently set a new personal best in the long jump, as she managed 6.47 metres in an event won by fellow Brit Shara Proctor - who broke the British indoor record twice as she finished the competition with a jump of 6.80m that puts her into medal contention ahead of the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

"It's an event I struggle with, so to jump 6.47m is encouraging," Ennis said of her performance, before Proctor added: "I came out here and I broke the record, and I'm excited about it going into the World Indoor Championships. That record is older than me, so my motivation was there to break it."

The news was not so good for the other high-profile British athlete in action, as world champion Mo Farah was beaten over two miles in the final event of the day. Farah never really seemed to be on song on the day as he struggled to keep pace with the early leaders, and despite the vociferous cheers of the crowd proved unable to overhaul eventual winner Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

"I was a bit disappointed with the race, I felt a bit heavy," Farah said. "I appreciate all the support and I know I've just got to keep working hard."

There was also a shock in the penultimate event of the day, as Asafa Powell was beaten by fellow Jamaican Lerone Clarke. Powell, the third fastest man of all time over 100m, was expected to win the race - but Clarke's early season form shone through as he defeated another compatriot, Nesta Carter, in a time of 6.47s - as Powell was forced down into third.

"It feels great," Clarke said. "I knew I just needed to stay focused and relaxed - and I did it. I've been in the background for a minute, and I need to get further and win here and make myself feel more confident for the rest of the year."

In one of the most eagerly-anticipated head-to-head battles of the evening, Lui Xiang trumped Dayron Robles in the men's 60m hurdles. The Chinese was never really under pressure after a clean start, breezing over every hurdle on the way to victory in a time of 7.41s, as his Cuban rival eventually recovered to finish a somewhat distant second after a rather languid start.

World Championship silver medallist Hannah England came a distant second in the women's 1500m, being able to only watch in wonder as Genzebe Dibaba put on a masterclass to win in just over four minutes.

The Ethiopian athlete ordered the pacesetter to go out fast as she targeted a world record, and only fell narrowly short as England proved herself the best of the rest as she finished eight seconds adrift. Claire Gibson finished down in six, agonisingly less than a second outside the qualifying time for the forthcoming World Indoors.

Mo Farah could not win his race © Getty Images

Elsewhere, Holly Bleasdale won the pole vault on countback, defeating Poland's former world champion Anna Rogowska despite the fact both athletes cleared 4.70m - because she managed it at the first attempt.

"I felt a little bit of the pressure, and today I felt really good on the run-up but my technique was a little bit lacking," Bleasdale said. "I need to go back and work and that and hopefully I'll be able to go higher - but I'm happy to be jumping consistently."

Robbie Grabarz won the men's high jump with a clearance of 2.32m, although he narrowly missed out on a new British record of 2.39m after clipping the bar with his final attempt.

"I'm very happy, and when I'm happy I jump high," Grabarz said. "That's about it really!"

Team GB's JJ Jegede won the long jump after setting a new personal best of 8.04m - completing a sweep of the jumping events for Team GB competitors - while Nigel Levine also broke his previous best in the 400m as he won in a time of 45.71s.

Shana Cox then won the women's 400m in a time of 52.18s, as both Nadine Okyere and Nicola Sanders came third and fourth respectively.

Marilyn Okoro finished third in the women's 800m, while Joe Thomas was fourth in the men's equivalent - although the young Welshman did set himself a new personal best.

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