Aregawi breaks European record in Stockholm

Aregawi breaks European record in Stockholm as Ekelund delivers again
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Sweden's Abeba Aregawi broke the European indoor 1500m record last night in front of her home crowd at the XL Galan meeting in Stockholm with a time of 3:57.91.

A spectacular night of track and field at the XL Galan meeting in Stockholm lived up to all expectations and predictions - with Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi producing the run of a lifetime.

Aregawi, such a heroine in the country after her European Athletics Indoor and World Championships outdoor success in 2013, now has a new honour to her name.

She is the European Indoor 1500m record holder after a stunning run which brought the 8,000 spectators to their feet.

The mark Aregawi was chasing was the 3:58.28 from Russia’s Yelena Soboleva, and that is now consigned to second spot in the European all-time list after the Swedish star charged her way around the Globe Arena to triumph in 3:57.91.

It was a stunning run, and further proof that there need be no concerns about Aregawi having a difficult ‘second season’.

Often after a year such as the one she had last year - she was so dominant in the 1500m also winning the IAAF Diamond League - it can be tricky to repeat the success.

She responded with another wonderful performance.

With splits of 62.83, 2:08.02 and 3:11.82, she was way out in front, which has so much become her trademark style, as she left a field of 12 way behind.

Now Aregawi's attention will shift to the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot next month, and then she will have a real battle on her hands.

Aregawi’s time was the second fastest in history, sitting behind the world record which was run just last Saturday in Karlsruhe when Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba produced a time of 3:55.17.

And what a year Dibaba is having because she broke her second world record of the week here in Stockholm when she won the 3000m in 8:16.60, smashing the old mark by an amazing 7.12 seconds.

The head to head between Aregawi and Dibaba over 1500m in Sopot will be one of the best duels of the whole year; you suspect both will try to take control and the tactics alone could be something to savour.

The big crowd at the 25th staging of the XL Galan was also treated to a brilliant performance from another Swedish star - Irene Ekelund.

Still only 16, Ekelund, the 2013 World Youth champion, soared to victory in the second of the 200m races in 23.48, setting an arena record.

Pavel Maslak, the Czech Republic’s European 400m champion - indoors and out - is in fine form once more as he showed by winning in a brilliant 45.66, equalling his national record with the fastest time by a European in 2014.

Russia’s Mariya Kuchina remains unbeaten this year after she took the high jump with a personal best and world lead of 2.01m as she beat Sweden’s Emma Green Tregaro, who was second with 1.96m.

In the pole vault, a new best height for 2014 was achieved as Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg beat Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou on countback after both women cleared 4.72m. It was a Greek record for Kyriakopoulou as Jirina Svobodova, of the Czech Republic, finished third with 4.64m.

Germany’s Verena Sailer won the 60m in 7.22 while Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic took the long jump by one centimetre with 6.58m as she denied Erica Jarder a home win.

Not that the crowd could complain about what the Swedish athletes had produced on a night to remember.