Marcin Lewandowski had never run a mile race before Wednesday (13) night in Athlone, Ireland, but what a way to start for the multiple Polish middle distance gold medallist.
Lewandowski, the defending European indoor 1500m champion, not only won in 3:56.41 at the 7th AIT International Grand Prix, a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting, but he also broke a national indoor record which had stood for 25 years.
His time surpassed that of Michal Bartoszak, who ran 3:58.39 in Fairfax in the United States on 6 February 1994 and is the perfect platform which Lewandowski can take with him to Glasgow in just over a fortnight for the European Athletics Indoor Championships.
It was a close race with Lewandowski victorious from Australians Stewart McSweyn in 3:56.46 and Ryan Gregson in 3:56.85 and he will head to Glasgow looking for his third successive European indoor title. He won the 800m title in Prague followed by 1500m gold in Belgrade.
Mageean and English defeat competitive fields on home soil
It was a memorable evening for Ireland’s runners as they showed superb form so close to the big championships.
Topping the bill was Ciara Mageean who joined the list of history-makers by breaking her Irish 1500m indoor record as she won in 4:06.76 from Romania’s Claudia Bobocea in 4:07.05 and Sweden’s Anna Silvander in 4:13.80, both personal best performances.
"The pacing was absolutely spot on and whenever she stepped off, Bobocea picked up the pace and I was happy to go with that," she told reporters after the race.
— Ciara Mageean (@ciaramageean) February 13, 2019
Mageean had set the record time of 4:08.66 in 2016 and will now take this fine display into Glasgow with what is her second Irish record this year. In Boston last month, she ran 4:28.31 for the mile.
Mageean’s teammate Mark English is no stranger to the European podium and he will be seeking a place on it again in Glasgow as he demonstrated with a great run in the 800m which he won in 1:46.92.
English is a European indoor silver medallist from 2015 and a European outdoor bronze medallist from 2014 and won in a season’s best of 1:46.92 by a clear distance from Erik Sowinski from the United States in 1:47.64.
Barr finishes a battling second in the 400m
Thomas Barr just missed out on making it three home victories as he finished a close second in a physical contest over 400m. Pushed out into lane five, the European 400m hurdles bronze medallist lunged to the line but just missed on the win, finishing second to the Netherlands’ Tony van Diepen, 47.01 to 47.05.
Happy with tonight’s run, and as always, a fantastic night at the AIT Grand Prix, despite falling short (‘scuse the pun) of the win . Despite the lack of hurdles this meet is one of, if not my favorite meet in the Irish Calendar ! Thanks for having me again this year https://t.co/GqFg5Q9UxJ
— Thomas Barr (@TomBarr247) February 14, 2019
Great Britain’s David King looked sharp as he won the 60m hurdles in 7.66 from Finland’s Elmo Lakka in 7.75 and Denmark’s Andreas Martinsen in 7.95.
Other highlights included Great Britain’s Meghan Beesley winning the 400m in 53.00 from Slovakia’s Anita Horvat in 53.19 and in-form Greek high jumper Tatiana Gusin clearing 1.87m.
From an international standpoint, the highlight of the programme was the season's debut of China's world indoor silver medallist Su Bingtian. He clocked 6.54 in the heats before improving to 6.52 in the final.