The 11th IAAF World Indoor Championships take place this weekend, Friday 10 to Sunday 12 March, in the Olimpiyskiy Sport Palace Complex, Moscow, Russia, and in a three-part event preview (Track, Field and Combined) we focus upon the likely main combatants for medals in the Russian capital. Here are the expected highlights in the Heptathlon and Pentathlon events:
When the 11th World Indoor Championships start in Moscow on Friday, it will be seven months to the day since Bryan Clay, of the USA, achieved revenge. Friendly revenge it may have been, but it was a triumph at last over an old adversary as he became World Decathlon champion by defeating Roman Sebrle, of the Czech Republic, who had beaten him to gold at the Olympic Games, in Athens, the previous summer and in Budapest, at the last IAAF World Indoor Championships.
In Moscow, it should be a spectacular re-match.
The men’s Heptathlon takes place over the weekend, the second and third day of the Championships, and is true to its word - a combined events competition combining the best in the world.
The top six finallists from the tremendous battles of Helsinki are here, with Clay, 26, seeking his first major indoor honour.
But while he scored a 211-points triumph in Helsinki, the largest at a World Championship for 14 years, his words emphasised his mindset. “I didn’t want to get another silver medal,” he said.
He will bring that determination to Moscow where he meets arguably the greatest of all indoor heptathletes in Sebrle, 31, who has never failed to make the podium at these championships.
In Maebashi, Japan, in 1999, he was third; in Lisbon, in 2001, he was the champion; in Birmingham, in 2003, he was third again; and in Budapest in 2004, he triumphed once more. His score of 6438 beat Clay by a mere 73 points but this weekend is unlikely to be about just the two of them.
The four athletes who finished behind them in Helsinki help sprinkle this heptathlon with stardust. Attila Zsivóczky, of Hungary, was third in Finland, André Niklaus, of Germany, was fourth, Russia’s Aleksandr Pogorelov was fifth while Estonian Kristjan Rahnu was sixth.
The men’s field is made up by two more Russians, Aleksey Drozdov and Konstantin Smirnov, with the eight participants for each of the two disciplines in Moscow constructed around four athletes from the current indoor season’s world top-10 and four from the 2005 outdoor world top-10 list.
It is why the presence of Pogorelov and Drozdow makes the event so intriguing. They lead the world indoor standings this winter with 6229 and 6225 points respectively and on home soil, will be looking for gold perhaps more than ever.
Second at the Olympic Games in Athens, third at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest, fourth at the World Championships in Helsinki...Lithuania’s Austra Skujyte looked like the firm favourite to climb to the top of the podium. With her last minute withdrawal due to illness, the contest is looking very open, in the absence of World and Olympic Heptathlon champion and European indoor Pentathlon champion Carolina Klüft, of Sweden, the sport’s greatest multi-eventer.
Karin Ruckstuhl, of the Netherlands, was fourth behind Skujyte in Budapest and though she has had a good winter, with 4683 from Prague in February, the women’s rankings for 2006 resemble that of the men - with a Russian leading the way.
Olga Levenkova, 21, scored 4713 in Moscow last month and such is the strength of the field that the top five in the world indoors lists for the event will be competing.
Following Levenkova and Ruckstuhl are Russians Yuliya Ignatkina, with 4648, Svetlana Ladokhina with 4613 and Sonja Kesselschläger, of Germany, with 4586.
The Pentathlon competition is completed by Hyleas Fountain, of the USA, Ukraine’s Lyudmila Blonska and Kazakhstan's Olga Rypakova.
Updated following the withdrawal of Austra Skujyte
Richard Lewis for the IAAF