Injury kept Abubaker Kaki out of action for almost all of 2013, but the two-time world indoor champion from Sudan will face a stern test when he races two-time European indoor champion Adam Kszczot on 9 February at the Flanders Indoor meeting in Gent, an IAAF Indoor Permit meeting.
What makes their 800m duel all the more exciting is that both athletes excel indoors. Kaki went undefeated on the boards in 2008, 2010 and 2011, while Kszczot owns the third-fastest time ever for 800m indoors.
Kaki has competed at the Flanders Indoor meeting once before, winning the 1000m in 2008. Two weeks later, he became the youngest ever winner of the world indoor 800m title, setting an African junior indoor record of 1:44.81.
The 24-year-old has been competing against Kszczot since their junior days. When Kaki won the 2008 world junior title, Kszczot just missed out on a medal in fourth. Kaki also triumphed at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships, where Kszczot took bronze.
But in Kaki’s last race to date, at the 2013 XL Galan, Kszczot got the upper hand as he finished second with Kaki crossing the line four seconds later.
Also in the field are two Belgian rising middle-distance talents, Jan Van Den Broeck and Pierre-Antoine Balhan.
Van Den Broeck finished fifth at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, while 21-year-old Balhan is twice a national 800m champion. Coincidentally, both athletes have set their indoor 800m PBs on the Gent track.
Organisers and Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF