This preview of the men's events at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships, Doha, Qatar (12-14 March) is based on entry information received by the IAAF but before the official start lists have been decided.
In a wide open event USA's former World Junior 100m champion Ivory Williams is among the lead medal contenders following his world season leading 6.49 sec to secure the US Indoor title.
His team-mate Michael Rodgers (6.52) finished runner-up to Williams at the US Championships in Albuquerque and is another threat.
Chief danger to the US-duo is World No.2 Dwain Chambers, who recorded 6.50 to land the British title. Chambers, 31, shared the silver medal at the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valencia and will be hoping to reproduce the form which took him to a stunning European record of 6.42 last year.
Jamaica has, surprisingly, never struck gold in this event, but Olympic 4x100m gold medallist Nesta Carter (6.54) and Lerone Clarke (6.55) will be keen to create history for their country.
Antigua’s Daniel Bailey (6.54), the fourth place finisher over 100m at the 2009 outdoor World Championships, is another with the pedigree to podium.
Qatar’s hopes rest with Samuel Francis (6.58), who struck 60m gold at the Asian Indoor Championships in Iran last month.
Other names to watch include; Great Britain’s Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (6.55) and Churandy Martina of the Netherlands Antilles (6.58).
Surprisingly, the USA has secured only one gold medal in the last seven editions of the World Indoor Championships but Bershawn Jackson will be fancied to enhance that relatively modest recent record.
Jackson, the 2005 World 400m Hurdles champion, took the US indoor title on the flat in an impressive 45.41 sec and will take all the beating in Doha. His countryman Jamaal Torrance (45.76) finished runner-up behind Jackson at the US Championships and is another podium threat.
Two-time European Indoor 400m champion David Gillick will be hoping to threaten the US challenge and signalled his medal intentions by equalling his Irish record of 45.52 in Birmingham in his sole indoor outing so far this winter.
Chris Brown of the Bahamas (46.20), the two-time World Indoor bronze medallist, is a consistent performer and must be respected. The Russian duo Dmitry Buryak and Denis Alekseyev both recorded 46.21 at their national indoor championships and could also feature. Australian Sean Wroe, fresh from a 45.40 outdoor clocking in Sydney, is another to be considered.
Two years ago in Valencia Abubaker Kaki became the youngest ever winner of a World Indoor title and the Sudanese athlete returns to defend his title. Kaki, 20, was an impressive winner in Stuttgart and Stockholm during this indoor campaign and with a season best time of 1:46.29 he looks a decent bet to become the first man since Kenyan Paul Ereng to complete back-to-back World Indoor 800m titles.
The champion’s main challenger could be his team-mate Ismail Ahmed Ismail (1:45.99), the Olympic 800m silver medallist, and one of the world’s most consistent 800m performers.
Boaz Lalang (1:46.37) is the sole entrant from Kenya, but after registering a victory at the Millrose Games in New York he must be respected.
Nick Symmonds (1:47.59), the US indoor champion and 2008 World Indoor finalist, is a growing force in the world of 800m running and will also fancy his chances.
The European challenge is led by Adam Kszczot (1:46.00) the 20-year-old Polish champion and Czech Jakob Holusa, who set a national record of 1:46.09 in Karlsruhe. Look out too for the Spanish duo – Luis Alberto Marco (1:47.13) and the teenager David Bustos (1:47.23).
Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen mounts the defence of his 1500m title on the back of a, so far, flawless season. Top of the world lists with 3:33.10 following his impressive victory in Birmingham the world outdoor 1500m silver medallist will be out to solidify his growing championship reputation.
Kenya has, surprisingly, triumphed only once in this event (Paul Korir in 2004) but they have two decent chances in Gideon Gathimba (3:35.40) and Haron Keitany (3.35.69). The latter athlete in particular must be considered a serious threat after recording an outdoor personal best of 3:30.20 last year.
Morocco’s Abdalaati Iquider, the fifth place finisher in the Olympic final, recorded 3:34.68 to win in Leipzig and is another with medal potential.
Look out also for Spanish pair, Diego Ruiz (3:37.86) and Alvaro Rodriguez (3:38.06), and French Olympic steeplechase silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbab (3:37.52).
Bernard Lagat will aim to recapture the title he first took six years ago in Moscow and further add his impressive collection of precious metal. The 35-year-old ‘Peter Pan’ of middle-distance running bagged the US 3000m title last month and a record-breaking eighth victory in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games suggests he is fine fettle.
Defending champion Tariku Bekele, of Ethiopia, will not give-up his title without a fight. The younger brother of distance running legend Kenenisa, is himself in good shape and sits second on the world lists after his 7:31.78 clocking in Stockholm.
Bekele’s countryman Abrehem Cherkos, 20, was a bronze medallist two years ago in Valencia and is another with medal credentials.
World season leader Augustine Choge (7:31.75) of Kenya is another with aspirations of climbing the top tier of the podium and his team-mate Sammy Mutahi (7:32.02), who has made a real advance this indoor season, cannot be discounted.
Qatar’s hopes rest with James Kwalia, the World 5000m bronze medallist in Berlin.
The European challenge is led by the Spanish duo Sergio Sanchez, who set a European record of 7:32.41 in Valencia, and European outdoor 5000m champion Jesus Espana (7:45.60).
Men’s 60m Hurdles
Defending champion Liu Xiang makes his first appearance at a global championship since withdrawing injured from his 110m Hurdles heat in front of his adoring home fans at the Beijing Olympic Games. The Chinese athlete underwent surgery on his Achilles in December 2008 and returns to the big time in Doha. He has made just one indoor appearance so far, a modest 8.05sec outing in Shanghai.
Olympic 110m Hurdles champion Dayron Robles was another to suffer an injury disrupted 2009 campaign, but with a season’s best of 7.44 the Cuban will be keen to secure his first World Indoor crown. He will want to forget his last World Indoor experience when a misjudgement at the start cost him a qualification spot from the heat.
World season No.1 Terrence Trammell of the USA will aim to match the achievements of his countryman Allen Johnson and land a third World Indoor 60m Hurdles title. Trammell blasted to his world season leading 7.41 to take the US indoor crown and looks in great form.
Watch out too for Olympic 110m Hurdles bronze medallist David Oliver (7.49), another returning from an injury ravaged 2009. Meanwhile, Czech Petr Svoboda is a potential dark horse after lowering his national record to an impressive 7.44.
Other contenders include; European Indoor champion Ladji Doucoure of France (7.58), the 2008 World Indoor bronze medallist Yevgeniy Borisov (7.58), Hungarian national record holder Daniel Kiss (7.56), and Shamar Sands (7.54) of the Bahamas.
Men’s High Jump
Russia look well placed to land gold courtesy of their powerful two-pronged attack led by World season No.1 Ivan Ukhov. The European Indoor champion seeks to add the indoor global title and with an impressive season’s best of 2.38m he will take some stopping. His team-mate Yaroslav Rybakov will provide formidable opposition, however. The world outdoor champion has competed sparingly during the indoor campaign but a best of 2.32m suggests he is more than capable of recapturing the title he claimed in 2006.
The US also provide a big threat, led by US champion Jesse Williams (2.34m). His countryman Dusty Jonas (2.32m) should also not be discounted.
Kyriakos Iaonnou (2.30m) has proved the consummate championship performer in recent seasons, winning world indoor bronze two years ago and World outdoor silver in Berlin. Expect the Cypriot to also be in the mix.
Watch out also for Finland’s Oksu Torro (2.32m), Dmytro Dem’yanyuk of Ukraine (2.31m) and Germany’s Martin Gunther (2.30m).
Men’s Pole Vault
Aussie Steve Hooker starts favourite to add the World indoor crown to his already impressive titles collection. The Olympic and World outdoor champion has yet to compete indoors this season, but five outdoor appearances, including a hugely impressive 5.91m in Sydney suggest he is prime shape.
His main opposition is likely to come from World outdoor bronze medallist Renaud Lavillenie. The French athlete heads the indoor world lists following a 5.85m clearance to land his national title, although fourth place finishes in New York and Stuttgart hint at some vulnerability.
The German challenge is led by Malte Mohr (5.83m) and is ably supported by Alexander Straub (5.75m), the European indoor bronze medallist.
Russian national champion Dmitry Starodubtsev (5.70m) and his team-mate World University Games gold medallist Aleksandr Gripich (5.70m) also most be respected.
The US provide a pair of 37-year-old’s as Tim Mack, the 2004 Olympic champion, and Derek Miles, the 2008 Olympic fourth-placer, rolled back the years with successful 5.70m vaults at the US Indoor championships.
Michal Balner (5.76m) of the Czech Republic, Kevin Rans (5.71m) of Belgium and Maksym Mazuryk (5.70m) of Ukraine, fourth in the outdoor 2009 World Championships in Berlin, also have chances.
Men’s Long Jump
Defending champion Godfrey Mokoena of South Africa has not yet registered an indoor mark this season, but an impressive 8.22m at an outdoor meeting in Durban suggest the World outdoor and Olympic silver medallist is the man to beat.
His main rivals could be Australian duo Mitchell Watt and Fabrice Lapierre, the bronze medallist and fourth place finishers, respectively, from last summer’s World Championships in Berlin. Watt has a best of 8.16m this season from four outdoor competitions. However, note the Olympic champion Irving Saladino is also entered. The Panamanian has yet to compete this year, so it is impossible to gauge his form, but should he take his place on the runway at the Aspire Dome he will be a major medal threat.
Salim Sdiri, the 2007 European Indoor bronze medallist, leads the world seasonnlists after an impressive 8.24m to land the French title. Sdiri’s compatriot Kafetien Gomis leapt to 8.21m in the same competition and the pair will be brimming full of confidence in Doha. Cuba’s Wilfredo Martinez, the 2008 Olympic fifth-placer, has been consistently over the 8m mark this year and a best indoor mark of 8.18m bodes well.
Other names to watch out for include; Brian Johnson of the US (8.19m), Viktor Kuznyetsov of the Ukraine (8.11m), German champion Christian Reif (8.10m) and the British duo Greg Rutherford (7.94m) and Chris Tomlinson (7.99m), the 2008 World Indoor silver medallist.
Men’s Triple Jump
With Britain's reigning champion Phillips Idowu deciding to withdraw for personal reasons, the focus will fall on Sweden's former champion Christian Olsson.
The Swede makes his eagerly awaited return to big-time championship competition after three injury ravaged years aiming to become the first man in history to land three World Indoor Triple Jump titles. The 2003 and 2004 champion has made positive strides in each of his three competitions this winter and will be lifted by his victory in Birmingham in a season’s best 17.25m.
Italy’s evergreen European Indoor champion Fabrizio Donato leads the world season lists with an eye-catching leap of 17.39m to land his national title and will be another threat. Cuba boast a fine tradition in the Triple Jump and Yoandris Betanzos (17.30m), the two-time World Indoor bronze medallist, and his countryman Arnie David Girat (17.27m) have podium potential.
Watch out also for the 2006 World Indoor champion Walter Davis of the USA (16.99m) and two-time World Indoor silver medallist Jadel Gregorio (16.92m) of Brazil.
Men’s Shot Put
Christian Cantwell seeks to become the first man in history to snare three World Indoor Shot Put title and is clearly the man to beat. The 2004 and 2008 champion has looked in imperious form this season and the US athlete leads the world season lists following his monster 21.95m effort in New York.
Belarus provides a dangerous two-man force led by the 2006 World Indoor silver medallist Andrei Mikhnevich, who posted a national record of 21.81m earlier this season. Meanwhile his team-mate Pavel Lyzhyn, the European Indoor silver medallist, has found a rich vein of form, registering a lifetime best of 21.12m in January.
Reigning Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland has not quite found his range so for this indoor campaign with a best of 20.86m, but is not without chances. Germany’s Ralf Bartels (21.02m), the 2009 World outdoor bronze medallist, is another consistent championship performer who has the ability to climb the podium.
The US have struck gold in this event in seven of the last nine editions and it is difficult to oppose them again. US indoor champion Bershawn Jackson leads a powerful looking squad which includes US runner-up Jamaal Torrance and World 400m Hurdles champion and World Indoor 400m record- holder Kerron Clement.
Expect the Bahamas led by Chris Brown, the two-time World Indoor bronze medallist, and Jamaica to figure prominently. Russia, Belgium, France, Ireland and Great Britain may also harbour medal chances.
Steve Landells for the IAAF