Kendra Harrison in action at the IAAF World Indoor Championships (AFP / Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

Preview: women's 60m hurdles – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

Birmingham has hosted its share of international summit meetings. Add to that list this weekend's gathering of some of the best women's 60m hurdlers in history.

Indeed, after Sharika Nelvis, Kendra Harrison and Christina Manning of the US rewrote the all-time lists in the event over the course of the past three weeks, whispers of an assault on Susanna Kallur's 7.68 world record, set a decade ago, are becoming louder.

The first to strike was Harrison, the 100m hurdles world record holder, who blitzed to a 7.72 run in Lexington on 10 February, equalling the US national record with the equal sixth fastest time in history. Eight days later, Nelvis edged Manning, her season-long rival and on-the-road roommate, 7.70 to 7.73 at the US championships in Albuquerque.

Those performances, which elevated the pair to equal third and equal tenth all-time, was just another chapter in a thrilling season-long rivalry which often highlighted each IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting they competed in.

Shaking off the rust, Nelvis was fourth in their international season opener in Berlin, clocking 7.94, with Manning fifth in 7.98. In Karlsruhe's Tour opener, the pair were significantly faster and nearly inseparable at the line, Nelvis getting the edge by 0.01 in 7.80. Manning avenged the loss three days later in Dusseldorf, improving her lifetime best to 7.77, 0.03 ahead of Nelvis. Four days later in Boston, things were closer still. Both stopped the clock in 7.89 with the photo reading in favour of Nelvis. Then came Albuquerque and last Sunday, their final pre-Birmingham showdown in Glasgow where Manning prevailed 7.79 to 7.84 to take the tour title.

The pair couldn't have been closer this season. Combining the times of their six head-to-head meetings, each has raced 46.97 seconds.

For her part, Harrison has been consistently fast as well, equalling her 7.72 lifetime best in Albuquerque, finishing between Nelvis and Manning.

While on a different plane at the moment, several others deserve attention in the medal chase. Germany's Cindy Roleder is the reigning European indoor champion who's twice run 7.84 this season. Alina Talay of Belarus, the European indoor champion in 2013 and 2015 and world indoor bronze winner in 2012, has a 7.88 season's best.

Then there's Sally Pearson, the 2011 and 2017 world 100m hurdles champion, who clocked a world-leading 12.68 outdoors at home in Australia on 4 February. Pearson hasn't competed indoors yet this season, but that omission shouldn't mean much. In 2012, her first indoor race didn't come until the opening round of the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul. She later went on to win in 7.73, still the tenth fastest performance of all time.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF