MonteCarloWith less than one week to go to the start of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul (9-11 March), it's time to take a quick look at just a handful of the most eagerly-anticipated battles expected when action begins on Friday at the Ataköy Athletics Arena.
Women’s Pentathlon – Chernova vs Ennis
Jessica Ennis is the reigning World Indoor champion and Tatyana Chernova the World champion in the Heptathlon after unseating the Briton in Daegu last summer. On paper the pair are fairly close in the five-eventer: Ennis tallied a 4937-point career best when taking the World title in Doha two years ago while the Russian, the bronze medallist two years ago, brings a 4855 best. This one may come down to the final homestretch of the final event.
Men's 60m Hurdles - Robles vs Liu Xiang
As the most recent Olympic champions and World record holders in the 110m Hurdles, Cuban Dayron Robles and Liu Xiang of China are without a doubt two of the greatest high hurdlers in history. In Istanbul, Robles will defend his title from Doha but will have to fend off a resurgent Liu Xiang who, at 7.41, has been considerably faster this season and clearly illustrating he’s on target to reclaim the World Indoor title he won in 2008.
Women’s Shot Put – Adams vs Ostapchuk
One of the fiercest rivalries in the sport will write its next chapter in Istanbul when defending champion Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus and New Zealander Valerie Adams square off in the Shot Put. While Adams, the 2008 Olympic champion, has often gotten the upper hand when the two have clashed over the past five seasons, Ostapchuk snatched the title in Doha and Adams will be eager to take it back. On paper, the two arrive virtually even: Ostapchuk leads the world with 20.70m while Adams has reached 20.67 outdoors in Sydney.
Men's 3000m - Lagat vs Farah
He may be 37, but that shouldn’t keep anyone from betting against Bernard Lagat’s quest for a second successive and third overall World Indoor 3000m title. Here the multiple U.S. record holder and brilliant tactician will face Briton Mo Farah who beat him to the line for the 5000m World title in Daegu last summer. Meanwhile, they’ll both have to watch out for the Kenyan 1-2 punch provided by Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi, who’ll arrive as the season’s only sub-7:30 runners.
Men’s Shot Put - Storl vs ‘The Old Guard’?
In Daegu last summer, David Storl produced one of the biggest surprises of the World Championships when at just 21 he upset the shot putting establishment by claiming the global title. In Istanbul, at least part of that Old Guard will be looking to strike back. Among them will be Reese Hoffa of the U.S., a former World Indoor champion and two-time silver medallist, and 2008 Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland. Hoffa will arrive as the world leader at 21.87m, more than 40cm better than Storl’s best of the season. But such statistics meant nothing in Daegu last summer.