IT had promised to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller and it did not disappoint as world champion hurdler Dai Greene toppled Ikem Billy's 28-year-old British indoor 600m flat record yesterday at the first major athletics event to be hosted by Glasgow's Emirates Arena.
Greene was pipped at the finish line by America's Duane Solomon in the much-anticipated clash at the British Athletics International Match, but it mattered little as the Welshman finished in a blistering 1.16.22 to torch Billy's 1:17.6.
Solomon, meanwhile, claimed an all-comers' record of 1:15.70, while Britain's Andrew Osagie, in third, managed a credible 1:16.45 in front of the 5000-strong sell-out crowd. Greene, however, secured bragging rights as far as the British duo were concerned – and a not too shabby $5000 cheque for his efforts in the curtain raiser to the indoor athletics season.
He joked afterwards he didn't think he would claim a national record for the 600m flat indoors before he had done so in the event which made him a world champion, the 400m hurdles.
"I enjoyed the race," Greene said. "I was very much out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed testing myself. I'm pleased with the time and I wish I had put a bit more of a challenge in early doors on Duane, but I think he ran a great race. I would love to do it again in the near future. It's nice to get the national record. I knew either Andrew or myself would get it so I just made sure I beat him to the line."
There was British success in the men's 60m with Dwain Chambers seeing off a field that included former 100m world champion Kim Collins (St Kitts and Nevis) and Michael Rodgers (USA).
"For what it's worth I was surprised," said Chambers. "I knew Kim and Mike had competed prior to here and I haven't competed since the [Olympic] Games. I was worried about how I was going to perform because I didn't want a repeat of last year's indoor season, so I'm happy with today."
Despite plucky performances, there was some disappointment for the Scottish contingent of Lynsey Sharp, Lee McConnell and Eilidh Child.
Sharp finished fourth in the 800m, behind eventual winner Ekaterina Poistogova (Russia), with McConnell fifth in a 200m race which saw Olga Belkina (Russia) clinch victory. "It was tough. I struggled with being drawn in lane two," McConnell said. "After the first bend I was quite far down and it's tough to come back in a field like that. They are 200m specialists and I'm not.
"I didn't run any 200m last season at all, so it's the first for a while. I'm disappointed. I don't think I did anything wrong. I do believe the big factor was being unlucky with my draw."
Sharp was philosophical as she reflected on the way she had run, having only arrived in Glasgow on Thursday after a "nightmare" journey home from her warm- weather training camp in Kenya.
"I really wanted to compete. Apparently after the first time you have been at altitude, the best time to race is within 48 hours. I knew I was going to be tired from travelling but I wanted to give it a go," she said.
"I got into a really bad position at the break. I felt we started quite fast, but then it wasn't fast and I had to work round on the second lap. I could hear Terrence [Mahon, her coach] shouting that it was slow. I tried to make a move on the third lap. I mean, I ran well but I was just clock watching on the last bit – I don't even know why because it was slow. That's why I got caught on the line."
In the 400m, Child finished fourth in what she dubbed "an experiment" devised by her hurdles coach Malcolm Arnold to help add firepower to the opening 200m in her traditional hurdles event. Natasha Hastings (USA) was the winner of the race, ahead of Perri Shakes-Drayton (GBR).
"My game plan was to go out hard," Child said. "My coach said, 'just make sure you go out and attack the first 200m, even if you die over the last 100m'. And that's what I did.
"I did die a bit of a death towards the end, but I did what I was told. It's just about getting used to the indoor races. It's my first indoor season for a few years now and the aim is to use that to build towards the outdoor hurdling season. I need to work on getting my start faster, but obviously I'd like to give the indoors a good shot and get to the European championships."