David Storl in the mens Shot Put Final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Karlsruhe, Germany

Storl and Holzdeppe the golden boys in Karlsruhe

Two of Germany’s 2013 IAAF World Championships gold medallists, shot putter David Storl and pole vaulter Raphael Holzdeppe, will share the spotlight on home ground at the Weltklasse in Karlsruhe indoor meeting, as the 2014 IAAF Indoor Permit series gets under way on Saturday (1).

Storl, who came away with his second straight World shot put title in Moscow last summer, will joust with his top two rivals, Poland’s two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski and the USA’s Ryan Whiting, the reigning World indoor champion and the silver medalist outdoors behind Storl in the Russian capital.

Also on hand will be Serbia’s 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships gold medallist Asmir Kolasinac.

Holzdeppe will see some familiar faces in his specialist event as all the competitors, save two, are from Germany. 

His most formidable opponent, as usual, will be his compatriot Björn Otto, the seemingly ageless 36-year-old who is the London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist and 2013 IAAF World Championships bronze medallist. 

Germany’s Malte Mohr, fifth in Moscow, along with Greece’s Kostas Filippidis, a five-time finalist in global championships, will keep the competition at a high level, as will France’s Beijing 2008 finalist Jerome Clavier and Germany’s Karsten Dilla.

Among the outstanding women’s events are the 3000m and the long jump.

Bahrain’s former 1500m World champion Maryam Jamal will move up to the 3000m and will make her indoor debut at the distance, but her outdoor best of 8:28.87, albeit dating from 2005, should ensure a fast time.

Jamal’s main rivals around 15 laps of the track should be Russia’s Moscow 1500 finalist Yelena Korobkina, Germany’s 2013 European indoor silver medalist Corinna Harrer and Kenya’s 2012 Olympic Games 5000m finalist Viola Kibiwot of Kenya.

Biryukova the jumper to beat

The women’s long jump also offers a strong field, led by the 2014 world leader, Russia’s Svetlana Biryukova.

She leapt 6.98 in Moscow earlier this month and achieved that mark again last weekend.  She will be challenged by Germany’s Sosthene Moguenara, a Moscow finalist who posted a career best of 7.04m last summer. 

Current European champion and last year’s winner in Karlsruhe, France’s Eloyse Lesueur, will be on hand as well as the USA’s Funmi Jimoh, plus last year’s European junior champion Malaika Mihambo and the 2012 Karlsruhe winner Xenia Atschkinadze, both from Germany. 

The two protagonists in the riveting men’s 3000m at that same Karlsruhe meeting two years ago will again be back. 

On that memorable occasion, Kenya’s Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi were both clocked in an identical 7:29.94, unsurpassed since then, with the verdict going to Choge, the 2012 World Indoor Championships silver medallist. 

Perhaps German fans on that day will also recall even more vividly the breakthrough race by Arne Gabius, whose 7:38.13 nearly eclipsed the national record of Dieter Baumann (7:37.51).  It’s unfinished business for Gabius, the 2012 European Athletics Championships 5000m silver medallist, who has this record at the top of his to-do list for Saturday. 

USA’s Bernard Lagat, Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew and Azerbaijan’s reigning European indoor champion Hayle Ibrahimov, the one-two-three in Karlsruhe 12 months ago, will also be in the loaded field along with the prodigious Kenyan teenage steeplechaser Conseslus Kipruto and Morocco’s 2012 World Indoor Championships 1500m gold medallist Abdelaati Iguider.

Three high-finishing Moscow finalists highlight the men’s 1500m field, headed by South Africa’s bronze medalist Johan Cronje with Kenya’s Nixon Chepseba and German ‘wunderkind’ Homiyu Tesfaye, fourth and fifth respectively behind Cronje.

Adding further depth the field also includes Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremehdin, Spain’s former European indoor champion Manuel Olmedo, Germany’s Carsten Schlangen and last year’s European indoor bronze winner Simon Denissel, of France.

Lopez looking to defend over four laps

Returning to defend his Karlsruhe 800m title after last year’s stunning upset of Poland’s Adam Kszczot at the tape is Spain’s Kevin Lopez, a two-time European indoor medallist. 

He’ll be challenged by Kszczot’s countryman, and 2010 European champion outdoors, Marcin Lewandowski, plus three of Germany’s top 800-metre runners: Andreas Lange, Robin Schembera and Sören Ludolph. Making only his third career indoor appearance will be Bahrain’s Abraham Kipchirchir Rotich, who will be bringing a resumé with an outdoor best of 1:43.13.  

After her 2012 and 2013 wins here in the women’s 1500m, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, the defending World indoor champion, will be going for a ‘three-peat’ against Spain’s 2013 European indoor silver medallist Isabel Macias and two-time German champion Annett Horna. 

The fast sprint apron at the Europahalle has had a storied history, having yielded the current world record in the women’s 60m hurdles as well as the former European record in the men’s 60m.

The three sprint events on Saturday’s programme are still awaiting the performance explosion that should come in a World Indoor Championship year, and the Karlsruhe facility may well provide the setting. 

Verena Sailer, Germany’s European 100m champion from 2010, will look to lower her season’s best from the 7.25 she posted on the same track two weeks ago.  Among her rivals are The Netherlands’ Moscow heptathlon bronze winner Dafne Schippers and France’s current European junior 100 metres champion Stella Akakpo.

Great Britain’s 2012 World Indoor Championships silver medallist Tiffany Porter is the favourite in the women’s 60m hurdles.  She will be challenged by Belgium’s former European indoor champion Eline Berings.

A pair of recent sub-7.50 performers from the US, Kevin Craddock and Jarret Eaton, head the group in the men’s 60m hurdles. France’s former World indoor champion Ladji Doucouré and Cuba’s Orlando Ortega, a winner in Karlsruhe in 7.60 last year, are also in the field. 

Ed Gordon for the IAAF