Nelson Evora in the triple jump at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

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

When Almir dos Santos made his international debut at the 2012 World U20 Championships, he competed in the high jump. At last year’s South American Championships, he competed in the long jump. And now he heads to the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 as the favourite for the triple jump.

Since ditching the high jump for horizontal jumps last year, the 24-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise in his newfound event. He jumped 16.86m in a low-key competition at the end of last summer and has continued his progress this year with three 17-metre-plus victories.

After a season-opening 17.06m victory in the US, Dos Santos won at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Madrid with a world-leading PB of 17.35m and then improved on that with 17.37m in Lievin on 13 February.

There may be other men in the field with superior lifetime bests, but Dos Santos’s progression and jumping style suggest that a big jump could be on the horizon.

Will Claye knows what it takes to win a world indoor title. The US jumper won gold back in 2012 with a leap of 17.70m at the age of 20. Since then he has earned several other major championship medals, including Olympic silvers in 2012 and 2016, world bronze in 2013 and world silver last year. But this championships presents Claye with a perfect opportunity to win a second global title.

It may have been 10 years since Nelson Evora won his world (2007) and Olympic (2008) titles, but the 33-year-old Portuguese jumper is still highly competitive. He won the European indoor title last year and went on to take bronze at the World Championships in London. More recently, he finished second to Dos Santos in Madrid with 17.30m, just three centimetres shy of the national indoor record he set back in 2008.

Evora isn’t the oldest in the field, though; not by a long way. When Italy’s 41-year-old Fabrizio Donato takes to the runway on Saturday evening, he will become the oldest man ever to compete at a World Indoor Championships. As the event is held as a straight final, he will also become the oldest ever world indoor finalist in a men’s event. And given he jumped 17.32m outdoors as recently as last year, and 16.94m earlier this year, he could well become the oldest ever men’s world indoor medallist.

Germany’s Max Hess could help to significantly reduce the average age of the triple jump medallists. The 21-year-old might not be the most consistent performer on the circuit, but he tends to get things right for major championships. After taking world indoor silver two years ago at the age of 19, he went on to win the European title later that year and then earned European indoor bronze in 2017.

Apart from Dos Santos, Burkina Faso’s Fabrice Zango Hugues has been one of the other breakthrough performers this indoor season. The two-time World University Games silver medallist improved to an African record of 17.23m in Val de Reuil at the end of January.

China’s Dong Bin hasn’t competed so far this year but will be in Birmingham to defend his title. He may need to jump farther than the 17.33m he produced in Portland if he is to hold on to his title, though.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF