Luvo Manyonga in the long jump at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

Preview: men's long jump – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

For the second straight major championships, the men's long jump has shaped into a battle between South Africa's Luvo Manyonga and Jarrion Lawson of the USA.

The pair fought a spirited battle at last summer's World Championships in London, with Manyonga taking the victory by just four centimetres with 8.48m. That triumph was the highpoint of an undefeated season for the 26-year-old that included a pair of African outdoor records of 8.62m and 8.65m and the IAAF Diamond League crown.

This year, he's picked up where he left off by adding solid indoor credentials to his growing war chest. First, he made his career indoor debut a notable one on 7 February in Paris with a world-leading 8.32m leap. He went further four days later in Metz, reaching 8.40m, just three centimetres shy of the all-time top-10. Given that form, he'll be difficult to beat when the straight final takes centre stage at Arena Birmingham on Friday evening.

This winter Lawson isn't far behind, at least on paper. After a modest 7.90m opener in late January, the 2016 Olympic finalist sailed to the US title with an 8.38m leap at altitude in Albuquerque, the second best leap in the world this year. That's just one centimetre shy of the 23-year-old's career best indoors, set in 2014 at the same New Mexico venue.

Meanwhile Lawson's compatriot Marquis Dendy returns to defend his title, propelled by an 8.22m season's best in Albuquerque for second. He's still looking to regain his 2016 that pushed him to an 8.42m career best outdoors and 8.41m indoors. 

While he is minus the big-meet experience, 19-year-old Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria has pieced together a season in which he's signalled to the world to take notice. Opening with a 7.97m victory in Karlsruhe earlier this month, he improved to 8.34m in Metz behind Manyonga, equalling his absolute best set last year. Showing solid consistency, he reached 8.20m in his last appearance, taking the victory in Linz on 18 February. 

Another teenager, 19-year-old Shi Yuhao of China, arrives with momentum solid enough to throw himself into the medal mix. The 19-year-old won the Asian indoor title in Tehran with 8.16m and more recently, collected the victory in Glasgow at 8.13m.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF