Ballarat’s Collis Birmingham in his first appearance at a world indoor championships finished tenth–place in the 3000m final with a time of 7:57.55 over the weekend in Sopot, Poland.
With the 12 man pack still together just before the two lap mark, Birmingham was forced to jostle to maintain position and came shoulder-to-shoulder with Azerbaijan’s Hayle Ibrahimov as the two-time Olympian looked for an opening as the pace stepped up at the front of the pack.
With two laps remaining Birmingham went three wide in an attempt to maintain contact and as the field spread at the bell Birmingham was sitting eight deep.
Birmingham held his line up the final straight but Canadian Cameron Levins (7:57.37) and Kenya’s Augustine Choge (7:57.46) found a final turn of speed to finish eight and ninth respectfully.
The tenth-place finish adds to Birmingham’s sixth-place finish at the world cross country championships last year and matches the placing of fellow Victorian Craig Mottram in the same event in Budapest in 2004.
Kenyan Caleb Indiku (7:54.94) forced the pace with two laps remaining and didn’t break. The 21-year-old showed plenty of class in the final 200m to win in a field stacked with Olympic and world medalists.
An African champion at 1500m as a teenager, Indiku impressed to hold off three-time champion Bernard Lagat who showed he is still a serious threat at 3000m going wide with 400m remaining and easing past Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet and fellow American Galen Rupp to settle into second place.
39-year-old Lagat finished second (7:55.22) and became the oldest male to win a medal at a world indoor championships.
Ethiopian Dejan Gebremeskal finished third in 7:55.39.
Birmingham will return to Melbourne as he is scheduled to compete in the 5000m at the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge on Saturday 22 March at Lakeside Stadium.
Tickets to the World Challenge meet are available via the Ticketmaster website.