Ajee Wilson in action in the 800m (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Portland, USA

Preview: women's 800m – IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016

Because she has already achieved so much, it is easy to forget that USA’s Ajee Wilson is still only 21 years old.

A world youth title in 2011 was followed by a world junior title in 2012. Just one year later, while still a junior, she reached the 800m final at the IAAF World Championships Moscow 2013 and set a North American U20 record of 1:58.21.

She clocked a world-leading PB of 1:57.67 in 2014 and won the US titles indoors and out, but her 2015 season was cut short by injury. Having now fully recovered, Wilson is back on top of the world lists and recently underlined her class by winning the US indoor title in Portland.

On the same track in the Oregon Convention Center this weekend, Wilson will be keen to atone for her experience at the 2014 World Indoor Championships. In what remains her only major championships disappointment to date, Wilson failed to make it out of the heats in Sopot two years ago.

This event has produced some surprise winners in recent years – Tamsyn Manou in 2008 and Chanelle Price in 2014 – and the closely matched field for this year’s championships suggests there’s scope for another upset.

Lynsey Sharp clocked an indoor PB of 2:00.30 last month, but the 2012 European champion was then beaten into third place at the British Indoor Championships. Adelle Tracey was the winner on that occasion and she will be making her global championships debut in Portland.

Ethiopian junior Habitam Alemu might not be the fastest of all the entrants, but she is undefeated this year and has consistently beaten quality fields on the European circuit. The 18-year-old clocked an indoor PB of 2:01.31 when winning in Eaubonne.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba could also be one to watch. Having made the Olympic final as a junior in 2012, injury kept her out of action from mid-2013 until early 2015. Her form progressed last year and she ended the season with a 1:57.62 victory in Rieti. The 22-year-old will be making her indoor debut in Portland, but she will be a genuine medal contender if she is anywhere near her best form.

Morocco’s world 1500m finalist Malika Akkaoui could also challenge for a medal, as could German indoor champion Christina Hering and world junior champion Margaret Wambui of Kenya.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF