Sun, Feb 14, 2021
You can take the Grand Prix out of Boston, but you can’t take a Grand Prix victory away from Donavan Brazier. That’s how the saying goes, or at least it should.
While the 2021 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix may have looked different from its previous 25 editions, it was familiar faces who took center stage at this year’s event at Ocean Breeze Park and Athletic Complex with Donavan Brazier leading the way.
The 800m world champion stormed to his fifth New Balance Indoor Grand Prix victory, setting a North American record of 1:44.21 in the process. Brazier bettered his own national and area record by 0.01 – his feat even more impressive considering he had to sit out his intended season debut last week due to a Covid-19-contact scare and spent most of the last week in quarantine.
“I was really hurting at the end,” he said after his race. “For that entire last 200, I was just thinking, ‘American record, American record’. When I crossed the line and the clock said 1:44.22, I thought, ‘ah dang’, but then the time was adjusted, and I was happy.”
Brazier’s win wasn’t the only repeat victory from last year’s edition, as Elinor Purrier successfully defended her two-mile crown in 9:10.28 and quite literally obliterated the American record by more than eight seconds in the process. Purrier ran most of the race with 2017 world 3000m steeplechase champion Emma Coburn on her shoulder but found another gear over the final two laps to put daylight between herself and the rest of the field. Behind her, Coburn crossed the line in a personal record 9:15.71 with Julie-Anne Staehli finishing in third with 9:22.66 and a new Canadian record.
The third American record of the night came in the men’s 1000m with last year’s winner Bryce Hoppel taking almost half a second off the previous best in 2:16.27. Hoppel closed strongly to hold off Marco Arop and Charlie Grice, with Grice setting a British indoor 1000m record in 2:17.20.
More records tumbled in the men’s 1500m where 2019 NCAA indoor champion Ollie Hoare produced a fine finishing kick over Briton Jake Wightman to better not only the Australian, but also Oceanian record by almost three seconds to 3:32.35. Behind him eight men clocked PRs, with third placer Sam Tanner shaving a good second off compatriot Nick Willis’ New Zealand record with 3:34.72.
Rounding off the middle-distance action was Canada’s Justyn Knight, who won the men’s two-mile race in 8:13.92 – Australia’s Morgan McDonald clocked a 8:14.92 national record for third – while Heather Maclean and Ajee’ Wilson secured victories over 1500m and 800m respectively.
Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo made a memorable return to the indoor 400m after nearly seven years of absence from the event. The Bahamian set a national record in a world-leading 50.21 just a week after clocking a national 200m record.
World leads also fell in the women’s 60m hurdles and 300m as Americans Keni Harrison and Gabby Thomas showed their class on the track. Harrison, the 60m hurdles world indoor champion, produced a world-leading 7.82. Britain’s Tiffany Porter and USA’s Gabrielle Cunningham placed second and third respectively, both clocking 7.89. Boston-native Gabby Thomas repeated her New Balance Indoor Grand Prix victory in the 300m with 35.73. Her result ranks her no.5 all-time over the distance and just 0.02 off the American record, while Lynna Irby finished in second with a 35.99 PR.
In the men’s high jump Trey Culver produced the first world-leading mark of the day. He cleared 2.33m with his second attempt to equal his PR and improve the meeting record from 1998 by four centimetres.
In a gripping 400m thriller, Michael Norman narrowly maintained the upper hand over training partner Rai Benjamin, holding on to victory in 45.34 to Benjamin’s new lifetime best 45.39.
In the men’s 60m, Trayvon Bromell convincingly took the victory in 6.50 from last year’s winner Demek Kemp. Bromell, the 2016 world indoor champion, had been battling with injury woes for several years, but has produced some strong marks in recent months. Fellow US sprinter Noah Lyles won the men’s 200m in 20.80, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards secured 300m victory in 32.71.
Kayle White took the honours in a tight women’s 60m final with a PB 7.15 over Hannah Cunliffe’s 7.17, while the women’s pole vault was won by world indoor champion Sandi Morris with 4.60m.