The Russian capital is currently frozen, with temperatures around minus 20 degrees Celsius, but the traditional Russian Winter indoor meeting, the second of this winter’s IAAF Indoor Permit meetings, should warm things up on Sunday (2).
Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman, the reigning World 800m champion indoors and out, will be one of those trying to raise the temperature in the CSKA Arena.
Aman has very fond memories of his last trip to Moscow in August, when he won at the 2013 World Championships, and he is now aiming for the World 600m indoor best which has stood to the Germany’s Nico Motchebon at 1:15.12 since 1999.
Still only 20, he has not lost a single race in Moscow throughout his whole career and came very close to that mark in 2013 edition of the Russian Winter meeting, clocking 1:15.60.
This year, the organizers have prepared a strong list of competitors, who should push him even harder.
Among those, is Poland’s Adam Kszczot, the second-fastest man in history over 600m indoors, who holds meeting record at 1:15.26 when he won two years ago. The two-time European indoor 800m champion arrives in the Russian capital fresh from an impressive win in Dusseldorf over four laps of the track on Thursday night.
Also in the field will be USA’s Erik Sowinski, who clocked 1:15.99 at Russian Winter meeting last year and then two weeks later set a US indoor best of 1:15.61. This means that the 600m race in Moscow will have three of the five fastest men of all time over the distance; all of them having got within half a second of the world indoor best in recent years.
Another event that could see world record attempts is the men’s high jump, starring the in-form London 2012 Olympic Games champion Ivan Ukhov.
In his three competitions in 2014, Ukhov has not jumped below 2.36m. On 16 January, in Chelyabinsk, posted 2.41m to equal the third indoor jump in history.
Ukhov has won Russian Winter four times already, and owns the meeting record of 2.39m from back in 2007.
Four of Ukhov’s rivals on the start list already boast 2.30m jumps or higher this winter. Among them is Ukhov’s long-time domestic rival and 2008 Olympic champion Andrey Silnov, who cleared in December, and Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko, who has a recent personal best of 2.33m in his pocket.
Representative of new generation of Russian high jumpers is 23-year-old Lev Missirov, who clear a personal best of 2.30m two weeks ago, the same as his more experienced countryman Ivan Ilyichev.
Also worth a mention are the USA’s Dusty Jonas and Russia’s 2010 European champion outdoors Alexander Shustov, although both still waiting for their best form to arrive this winter.
Menkov makes his debut
The men’s long jump promises intriguing battle and the current world lead of 8.10m by Zimbabawe’s Ngonidzashe Makusha is under threat.
Makusha himself will have to fight against home star and 2013 World Championships winner Alexander Menkov, the latter making his 2014 debut.
Russians Pavel Shalin, with a recent indoor best of 8.08m. and Alexander Petrov, as well as Panama’s 2008 Olympic champion Irving Saladino, Australia’s 2010 World Indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre and France’s Salim Sdiri make it one of the strongest long jump fields likely to be seen this winter outside of the forthcoming IAAF World Indoor Championships
The meeting record of 8.30m, set by Vitaly Shkurlatov in 2000, could be in danger.
Trammell turns back the clock
Two-time World Indoor Championships 60m hurdles winner Terrence Trammell, now 35, will run over the barriers against 2013 World Championships 100m hurdles bronze medalist and home star Sergey Shubenkov.
Like Aman, Trammell has never lost a single race in Moscow, although the last time he appeared in the Russian capital was when taking the gold medal here at the World Indoor Championships in 2006.
Another near veteran, St Kitts sprinter Kim Collins will try to take 60m title off the American incumbent Mike Rodgers
The women start list also boasts some impressive fields. In the long jump, two-time European indoor champion Darya Klishina faces strong opposition in the the hall which also acts as her regular training venue.
Last year’s winner Olga Kucherenko and Yulia Pidluzhnaya will provide strong domestic opposition while Great Britain’s 2012 World Indoor Championships medalist Shara Proctor and the USA’s Chelsea Hayes will try to interrupt the Russian internal battle. Reigning World heptathlon champion, Ukraine’s Hanna Melnichenko, will also compete in the long jump as part of her preparation for Sopot.
Both the gold and silver medallists of 2012 World Indoors Championships 800m, Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo and Ukraine’s Natalia Lupu, are set to repeat that duel once again over four laps of the track.
The traditionally strong Russian middle distance contingent is represented by this year by Svetlana Karamasheva (nee Podosyonova), who has already run 2:01.53 this season, and 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Yekaterina Poistogova.
Both are now better known as 400m hurdlers but Czech Republic’s Denisa Rosolova and Russia’s Irina Davydova will run the 400m indoors with without the obstacles in Moscow and already have fast times to their name this winter.
However, 52.87 for Rosolova and 52.72 for the Russian may still not be enough against in-shape American Francena McCorory, who has run 51.79 and heads the 2014 world top list.
McCorory’s compatriot Natasha Hastings and Russia’s classy Kseniya Ryzhova are also in the field.
In the women’s 60m hurdles, 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallist Kellie Wells will have her indoor season opener and face her countrywoman Nia Ali, Belorus’s Alina Talay and Panama’s Yvette Lewis.
The Russian Winter meeting will also host the official farewell ceremony for jumpers and former World champions Tatyana Lebedeva and Yaroslav Rybakov, who both announced the end of their careers last summer.
Natalya Maryanchik for the IAAF