David Storl wins another national indoor shot put title (Gladys von der Laage) © Copyright
Preview Karlsruhe, Germany

Storl and Holzdeppe the golden boys in Karlsruhe

Two of Germany’s world champions, 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 USA’s Ryan Whiting, the world indoor champion and silver medalist outdoors behind Storl in the Russian capital. Serbia’s European indoor champion Asmir Kolasinac will also be on hand.

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 Olympic silver medallist and world 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 2008 Olympic finalist Jerome Clavier and Germany’s Karsten Dilla.

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

Bahrain’s two-time world 1500m champion Maryam Jamal will move up to the 3000m and will make her indoor debut at the distance. Although her outdoor best of 8:28.87 dates back to 2005, she should ensure a fast time.

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

Biryukova the jumper to beat

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

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

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 European junior champion Malaika Mihambo and 2012 Karlsruhe winner Xenia Achkinadze, 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 world indoor silver medallist Choge. 

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 European 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 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 world indoor 1500m champion Abdalaati Iguider.

Three high-finishing world 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 Gebremedhin, Spain’s former European indoor champion Manuel Olmedo, Germany’s Carsten Schlangen and European indoor bronze medallist 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 Marcin Lewandowski, plus three of Germany’s top 800m 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 resume 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 world indoor champion, will be going for a ‘three-peat’ against Spain’s 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’ world heptathlon bronze medallist Dafne Schippers and France’s European junior 100m champion Stella Akakpo.

Britain’s world indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter is the favourite in the women’s 60m hurdles. She will be challenged by Belgium’s 2009 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 2005 world champion Ladji Doucoure and Cuba’s Orlando Ortega, a winner in Karlsruhe in 7.60 last year, are also in the field. 

Ed Gordon for the IAAF