Cindy Roleder won one of Germany’s eight medals at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 when she took the 100m hurdles silver medal but perhaps her podium place was the most surprising and inspiring of them all, so who better to take centre stage at the press conference ahead of the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe on Saturday (6), the first IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting of 2016.
Roleder, 26, will line up in the German city’s Messe arena – a new venue for the annual indoor spectacular after being staged in the nearby Europahalle for many years, which has imported the track used at the 2013 European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg – in the 60m hurdles, in which she made the final at the last IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, two years ago.
The Chemnitz hurdler has already got her year off to a strong start, including finishing second in Dusseldorf on Wednesday night when she ran 8.01, and hopes to go even better in Karlsruhe where she is not only the defending champion but also where she won the national title 12 months ago.
"It's great, the IAAF World Indoor Tour adds a new incentive to the indoor season," said Roleder. "In addition to competing in Karlsruhe, I will also be in Glasgow (the concluding meeting of the Tour on 20 February)."
With a personal best of 7.93 for the 60m hurdles, set when finishing just out of the medals in fourth place at last year’s European Indoor Championships – Roleder didn’t actually run in Gothenburg in 2013 and so denied the local scribes a nice angle for their stories – she could challenge that time on Saturday.
However, to defend her title she will have to fight off an outstanding contingent of hurdlers brought in to get the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Tour off to a flying start.
World leader Kendra Harrison, who ran 7.83 in Lexington last month, along with her US compatriot and world indoor champion Nia Ali are among four top US athletes in the field.
However, three women can boast career bests of 7.80 and have the mantle of being the fastest in the field.
In addition to Ali, this trio is completed by Great Britain’s European 100m hurdles champion Tiffany Porter and Germany’s 2011 European indoor champion Carolin Dietrich.
“Kendra Harrison and Tiffany Porter certainly add some spice to the hurdles field. But I don't think I have to hide behind anyone,” added Roleder, her confidence generally buoyed by her success in the Chinese capital less than six months ago.
Despite her breakthrough over the barriers last summer, Roleder still intends to also continue as an occasional combined events exponent.
She has a heptathlon best of 6055 points and, not surprisingly, is a more than useful sprinter and long jumper although, as she admits, her throws could do with some improvement.
Last year, she finished 17th at the famous combined events meeting over the border in the Austrian town of Gotzis and she has secured an invitation to return there in May.
"I'm still training for the heptathlon and planning to compete in Gotzis, but then I'll be focusing on the hurdles with Rio in mind,” she added.
Organisers for the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe announced that 124 athletes from no fewer than 42 nations, including a plethora of world and Olympic medallists and a scattering of champions, would compete on Saturday and provide a spectacular curtain-raiser to the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Tour.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF
2016 IAAF World Indoor Tour calendar
6 February – Karlsruhe Indoor Meeting (Karlsruhe, GER)
14 February – New Balance Indoor Grand Prix (Boston, USA)
17 February – Globen Galan (Stockholm, SWE)
20 February – Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix (Glasgow, GBR)