Ayanleh Souleiman in the 1500m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

Preview: men's 1500m – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

Two former winners of the title head to Birmingham occupying the top two places on the entry list.

Running in Lievin on 13 February, 2014 champion Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti prevailed from Morocco’s 2012 winner Abdalaati Iguider, 3:35.39 to 3:35.79. Since Ireland’s Marcus O’Sullivan completed a still-unmatched hat-trick in Toronto in 1993, only two men have bagged a pair of world indoor 1500m titles: the great Moroccan master of the middle distances Hicham El Guerrouj (1995, 1997) and Ethiopia’s Deresse Mekonnen (2008, 2010). So the year’s fastest two men have added incentive.

Unfortunately for them, they also have a clutch of threatening rivals with whom to contend – perhaps none more dangerous than the emerging Taresa Tolosa. The tall 19-year-old won world U20 silver in Bydgoszcz in 2016 and clearly has the potential to make a mark on the senior global stage. At the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Torun on 15 February, he took command with 300 metres remaining and won convincingly from Marcin Lewandowski and Jakub Holusa in 3:37.41.

The teenager is partnered on the Ethiopian team by 2014 silver medallist Aman Wote and Samuel Terefa, who stands fourth on the 2018 world list with his world U20 indoor record of 3:36.05.

Holusa has not been in the best of form this season but his fearsome kick means he cannot be discounted. The Czech memorably came from nowhere to bag the 2015 European indoor 1500m crown on home ground in Prague but couldn’t quite catch Matt Centrowitz at the 2016 World Indoor Championships, finishing in second, 0.08 down of the US athlete. Holusa also took silver in the 800m final in Istanbul in 2012, behind Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman. Lewandowski, his Polish training partner, succeeded him as European indoor 1500m champion last year but has yet to decide whether to contest the 800m or 1500 in Birmingham.

The field also includes Kenya’s Vincent Kibet and Australia’s Ryan Gregson, respectively second and third behind Bethwell Birgen at the IAAF World Indoor Tour finale in Glasgow on Sunday, plus in-form Britons Chris O’Hare and Jake Wightman. O’Hare has been troubled by a foot problem since following up his Wanamaker Mile victory in New York with a 1500m win in Boston on 10 February.

Simon Turnbull for the IAAF