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Tobin's run steals the show from Bekele and Isinbayeva

20 February 2006

Robert Tobin Robert Tobin
In front of a high-powered audience including Sebastian Coe and Paul Deighton, the chairman and chief executive respectively of the London Olympic Games Organising Committee, British success was thin on ground at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Birmingham on Saturday. The biggest shock was that there was no new world record — the first time in six years that has happened.

But another good win for Robert Tobin — the only Briton to win one of the international programme events — confirmed that Great Britain’s strong heritage in the 400 metres is in good hands. Tobin eased past a rejuvenated Daniel Caines in the last ten metres and heads to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne next month, via the Gold Coast training camp, in contention for a medal.

The 400 metres will be one of the strongest events in Melbourne. But it has opened up in the past three weeks after the withdrawals through injury of Tim Benjamin, of Wales, who finished fifth in the World Championships in Helsinki last summer, and Tyler Christopher, of Canada, the bronze medal-winner in Helsinki.

Tobin, 22, has reduced his indoor best this season from 46.80sec to 45.90 but was happy with 46.18 in a more tactical race on Saturday to pass first Caines and then Davian Clarke, of Jamaica, who came second. “It was good because I haven’t been able to breathe properly this week because of a cold and I couldn’t breathe for the whole race,” Tobin said.

Jason Gardener, the world indoor 60 metres champion, did not have the Commonwealth send-off he wanted as he was beaten by Freddy Mayola, finishing two one-hundredeths of a second behind the Cuban. Hours before, Mark Lewis-Francis, Gardener’s rival in the 100 metres, laid down a marker by winning the Victorian State Championships in 10.22 on the Melbourne track that will host the Games.

The Birmingham Grand Prix closed with its two greatest stars attempting world records. After a slow second kilometre, Kenenisa Bekele, of Ethiopia, missed out on Haile Gebrselassie’s two-mile record of 8min 4.69sec by 0.43sec.

It was left to Yelena Isinbayeva, of Russia, to raise her own world record in the pole vault. Ever the show-woman, it appeared that she was just adding a bit of drama when she failed at her first attempt at 4.92m. But two clattering vaults later it was clear that she was just tired after setting her nineteenth world record of 4.91m the previous Sunday in Donetsk.

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