Shot putters David Storl and Christina Schwanitz both cemented their roles as title contenders for the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot at the German Indoor Championships in Leipzig this weekend (22-23).
Storl, having successfully defended his German indoor title for the third year in a row, would have won with all of his three valid attempts. It was his throw of 21.22m that secured the gold for the two-time world champion.
The only disappointment for the 23-year old was a lost bet with his coach, who had set him a target of 21.30m to put some pressure on his athlete.
With a season’s best of 21.33m and currently ranked third in the 2014 world standings, the Olympic silver medallist feels ready for Sopot.
“I’m feeling confident going into the World Indoor Championships,” he said. “I normally always step up my game at major championships and our training over the next week in Kienbaum will be purely aimed at Sopot. I know the other guys will be rising to the challenge as well and I am fully expecting the shot to be a very tight event.”
Schwanitz, who owns the five furthest indoor distances in the women’s shot this season, will be the one to beat in two weeks’ time. She surpassed the 19-metre barrier four times this weekend, but her throw of 19.89m left her more than two metres ahead of the rest of the field. Even on the 2014 world indoor season list, no one has come within reach of the silver medallist from Moscow.
Hildebrand and Sailer impress on the track
On the track it was Nadine Hildebrand and Verena Sailer who produced strong results ahead of the World Indoor Championships.
In the 60m hurdles Hildebrand narrowly missed out on a season’s best by 0.01, taking the title in 7.92. Hurdler-turned-heptathlete Cindy Roleder finished a close second in 7.95.
Sailer took the 60m title with more than 0.10 ahead of second-placed Yasmin Kwadwo in a season’s best of 7.14, but was slightly dissatisfied with her race overall.
“I had a terrible start,” she said. “I know it’s always difficult to say what times you could have run with a better start, but I’d love to get a personal best (7.12) this season.”
The men’s 60m was a lot closer than the women’s equivalent. Less than 0.01 separated winner Christian Blum and silver medallist Lucas Jakubczyk, both being timed at 6.61. Third-placed Alex Schaf was only 0.03 behind with 6.64.
It was Blum’s fourth national indoor title, but his main priority was to tick off the A standard for Sopot, which he achieved in both the semi-final and final.
On Sunday, tears of joy were shed by 21-year-old 200m champion Rebekka Haase. She stormed to a personal best of 23.17, the fastest time in Europe this season. Haase shaved almost 0.5 off her previous personal best even after a sleepless night.
“I was so excited after coming fourth in the 60m (7.30) yesterday that I only managed to sleep for three hours last night.”
Her time is the fastest recorded at the German Indoor Championships since 2002.
Another youngster to shine in the sprints was Robin Erewa, who following a strong display in the heats, took the 200m title in 20.56. With his result, he left German record-holder Sebastian Ernst in the silver spot (20.62), before the duo, along with Julian Reus and Alexander Kosenkow, recorded a national indoor record in the 4x200m relay with 1:23.51.
Mohr attempts to join six-metre club
The men’s pole vault had one clear favourite as world champion Raphael Holzdeppe and Olympic silver medallist Bjorn Otto both have to sit out the indoor season due to injury. Following a mediocre start to his season, Malte Mohr did everything right today to take the title with a commendable height of 5.84m.
He went on to attempt 6.01m, but failed three times. His height leaves him second in the world with only newly-crowned world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie having jumped higher this season.
The women’s event almost ended in drama as odds-on favourite Silke Spiegelburg had to wait for almost three hours until her first attempt at her opening height of 4.51m. It took her all three attempts to clear the height and another three at 4.61m.
Spiegelburg raised the bar to a national record height of 4.78m for her final attempt, but collapsed due to circulatory problems and had to be treated trackside by paramedics. She won the title on count-back ahead of Kristina Gaschiew (4.61m).
Erik Balnuweit successfully defended his 60m hurdles title on his local track in 7.60, merely 0.02 off his personal best. Having been injured throughout the winter, he is looking to improve on his performance at the World Indoor Championships.
The women’s 400m was dominated by Esther Cremer, who was thrilled to have stayed below the A standard for Sopot in both her heat (52.44) and final (52.64).
In the men’s event, favourite David Golnow exited the competition in the heats following a false start. In the final, Eric Kruger, who had been out injured for several months, surprisingly came out on top with a personal best of 46.92.
Homiyu Tesfaye took double gold as he stormed to victory in both the 1500m and the 3000m. After taking the 3000m title in a personal best of 7:58.09 on Saturday afternoon, Tesfaye was determined to get the double.
“It was all or nothing in the 1500m,” said the world finalist. He ran a tactically shrewd race in the 1500m final on Sunday and was rewarded with the gold and 3:47.28.
In the women’s high jump Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch gained confidence going into Sopot as she won her third indoor title with a jump of 1.92m. Martin Gunther won the men’s event in a season’s best of 2.28m.
Elsewhere, Sosthene Moguenara took long jump gold with 6.49m. It was a tight affair with the top four women all lying within five centimetres of each other.
Michelle Sammet for the IAAF