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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 22, 2024

New Balance Grand Prix returns to Boston as athletes gear up for Paris Olympics

Strong performances and records set at the New Balance Grand Prix.


Australian Jessica Hull breaks her country’s record in the indoor 3000-meter on Feb. 4 at the New Balance Grand Prix.

As the New Balance Grand Prix returned to Boston, thousands of fans packed the stands of the TRACK at new balance on Sunday to see the athletes set to compete at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The women’s 3000-meter was the event of the night with two new national records set. Jessica Hull broke the Australian national record to win the event with a time of 8:24.93. The 27-year-old middle and long distance athlete graduated from the University of Oregon, where she won two individual NCAA Division I titles in the 1500-meter and the 3000-meter, along with two distance medley relay titles. She is the Oceanian record holder for the indoor 1500-meter, indoor and outdoor mile, outdoor 3000-meter and also holds the Australian record for the outdoor 5000-meter.

“To get the World Indoor standard, I had to break the national record, so I kind of thought that [the record] was in the cards,” Hull told the Daily, following her race. “I didn’t think I was going to run that fast, but I checked the right boxes.”

Marta Garcia of Spain also set a new national record for her country with a time of 8:38.34, which was good enough for an eighth place finish overall.

“It feels amazing to be super in shape at this time of the year. It’s a super important year,” Garcia said to the Daily. “I wanted the Olympic standard, now [the] national record over 3k, I can’t ask for anything else right now.”

Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia set a meet record in the men’s 3000-meter, finishing with a time of 7:29.09. The 2020 Tokyo Olympian holds the world record in the indoor 3000-meter with his personal best of 7:23.81 and won an Olympic Games silver medal in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Girma was supported by a number of fans waving large Ethiopian flags in the stands as he entered the bell lap.

“I’m so happy. I’m very delighted to be a winner,” Girma said to the press following his victory. “I love Boston. They have a great indoor track, and I wanted to take a chance to compete here.”

Over in the field events, the long jump saw American Tara Davis-Woodhall put up a new world lead and meet record with a mark of 6.86 meters (22 feet, 6¼ inches) on her first jump to win the event in a small but competitive field. The 2020 Tokyo Olympian won a silver medal in women's long jump at the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

“To get mentally prepared for competition, I honestly listen to a bunch of music, and I go through the motions of what I’m going to be doing on the runway and in the pit … [I] listen to Justin Bieber, Hannah Montana,” Davis-Woodhall said to the Daily. “I’m so excited for the rest of the season. I feel like I have more in the tank and we’re going to do something crazy this year.”

The long jump was the only field event contested at the Grand Prix this year.

“Honestly, for it to be the only field event of the meet, I’m thankful, because now we’re getting the eyes, now we’re getting all of the views that we deserve, just like the track athletes,” Davis-Woodhall said.

On the men’s side, Jamaican Carey McLeod won the long jump with a mark of 8.20 meters (26 feet, 11 inches) on his first jump. Carey is currently ranked No. 7 in the world in the long jump event.

In the men’s 1500-meter, American Hobbs Kessler narrowly edged out the 2022 World Champion Jake Wightman of Great Britain for the win as both set personal best times of 3:33.66 and 3:34.06 respectively.

Canadian Marco Arop set a new national record for his country in the indoor 1000-meter with a time of 2:14.74. The 2023 World Champion in the 800-meter is currently ranked No. 2 worldwide in that event.

“Last time I was at this meet I wasn’t able to break 2:17 or break the Canadian record, so I’m just glad I was able to come here and accomplish that goal,” Arop told the media.

American Mikiah Brisco took first in the women’s 60-meter final with a blistering time of 7.10 seconds, just ahead of fellow American Celera Barnes in 7.15 seconds. Zoe Hobbs of New Zealand qualified for the final in first with a season’s best time of 7.16 but finished in fourth overall. Hobbs is currently ranked No. 16 in the world for the 100-meter. The Maori athlete was the first female sprinter from New Zealand in 50 years to qualify for the Olympics in the 100-meter.

In the men’s 60-meter, Noah Lyles won the event in a time of 6.44 seconds. Josephus Lyles, Noah Lyles’s younger brother, also competed in the event, finishing eighth overall with a time of 6.69.

“To be honest, in my head, all I was thinking about was winning. I guess that’s all that matters,” Noah Lyles said, following his race. “Yeah, times are fun, world lead, meet record, and shoot, I was listening to [the announcer’s] video, ‘Noah Lyles is going to take this 60,’ I ain’t never heard anything like that in my life.”

One of the next stops on the World Athletics Indoor Tour is the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais on Feb. 10. Many of the athletes will also head to the Millrose Games in New York City on Feb. 11.