ATHLETICS: Eight world leaders and three U.S. records at New Balance Grand Prix

New American 1,000 m indoor record holder Bryce Hoppel, winner at the New Balance Grand Prix

Big marks were expected at the New Balance Grand Prix meet, relocated to the Ocean Breeze Track & Field Athletic Complex on Staten Island, New York after the Reggie Lewis Center in the Boston area was unavailable due to its use as a Covid-19 vaccination site.

A great field of athletes looking for a way to start the season was assembled and resulted in eight world leaders and a batch of American-record performances:

Men/800 m: 1:44.21, Donovan Brazier (USA) ~ American Record
Men/1,000 m: 2:16.27, Bryce Hoppel (USA) ~ American Record
Men/2-mile: 8:13.92, Justyn Knight (CAN)
Men/High Jump: 2.33 m, Trey Culver (USA: 7-7 3/4)
Women/300 m: 35.73, Gabby Thomas (USA)
Women/400 m: 50.21, Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH)
Women/2-Mile: 9:10.28, Elle Purrier (USA) ~ American Record
Women/60 m hurdles: 7.82, Keni Harrison (USA)

(All references below are to American athletes unless otherwise noted.)

Trayvon Bromell showed he is really ready for outdoors, winning the 60 m in 6.50, just 0.02 behind his world-leading mark of 6.48 in late January. His acceleration in the back half was impressive and bodes well for his spring at 100 m.

Noah Lyles won the 200 m in 20.80, ahead of Deon Lendore (TTO: 20.92), but was unimpressed with the time. “It’s indoors,” he said afterwards. The 400 m was an at-the-tape lean for Michael Norman over roommate Rai Benjamin, 45.34-45.39.

In the 800 m, Brazier was looking for a fast time, and separated from the field right away, passing the 400 m mark in 51.16 behind only pacesetter James Bias. He was never challenged, and came home in 53.05 for 1:44.21, shaving 0.01 from his own American Record, moving to equal-fourth on the all-time world list.

Hoppel ran away from the field over the final half-lap in the 1,000 m, taking with him the American Record of 2:16.76 of the late David Torrence from 2014. The mark moves Hoppel to no. 8 on the all-time world list.

Australia’s Oliver Hoare steamed past Britain’s Jake Wightman in the last half-lap to win the 1,500 m in 3:32.35, his best ever – indoors or out – and the no. 2 mark in the world for 2021, with Wightman in 3:34.48 (no. 3) and Sam Tanner (AUS) in 3:34.72 (no. 6). Hoare’s mark moves him to no. 7 on the all-time world list as well.

Culver equaled his best-ever jump, indoors or out, adding one centimeter to the world-leading mark, even though he hit the bar hard on the way over on his second try. He missed three times at 2.36 m (7-8 3/4).

Thomas came from behind on the final straight to edge Lynna Irby, 35.73-35.99, bettering her own world-leading time, and moving to no. 5 on the all-time list and no. 2 on the all-time U.S. list, just 0.02 behind Quanera Hayes’s American Record from 2017. Irby moves to no. 9 on the all-time world list.

Superstar Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) went to the front early and cruised to a world-leading 50.21 in the 400 m, a national indoor record and equal-8th on the all-time world list. American Wadeline Jonathas was well behind in second at 51.95.

U.S. 800 m star Ajee Wilson took control over the final turn and won the 800 m in 2:01.79 from Kaela Edwards (USA: 2:02.17). Wilson said afterwards that she had scratched from the race due to a minor injury, but felt better on Saturday morning and looked comfortable throughout, emphasizing winning rather than a fast mark.

In the two-mile, Purrier finally broke former World Steeple champ Emma Coburn with 2 1/2 laps to go and ran away with the win in 9:10.28, an American Record (old: 9:18.35, Jenny Simpson in 2015) and the no. 3 mark of all-time in the event. Coburn finished in 9:15.71, also below Simpson’s mark, and no. 8 on the all-time world list.

Sandi Morris of the U.S. claimed the vault at 4.60 m (15-1).