MonteCarloThere is one month to go to the start of the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships, Valencia, Spain, which begin on Friday 7 March, concluding on Sunday 9 March.
‘Valencia 2008’ takes place in the Palau Velódromo Luis Puig, and will be the first of six IAAF World Athletics Series (WAS) competitions to be staged in 2008.
The World Indoor Championships which takes place every two years are the most important global athletics championships aside from the two premier outdoor competitions, the World Championships in Athletics and the Olympics. With this summer’s Games in Beijing, China, firmly in everyone’s sight, the action in Valencia will be carefully studied for indications to probable summer form.
In the last few weeks Meseret Defar has been at her best, with the fastest ever indoor clocking in the world at Two Miles. Can the World and Olympic 5000m titleholder make it three consecutive 3000m titles in Valencia?
Another reigning Olympic High Jump champion Stefan Holm has also shown good early season fitness this winter, and though he lost the World Indoor title in 2006, his victories from 2001 to 2004 inclusive mean he’s looking at a possible fourth indoor crown next month.
But if we return to the reigning World Indoor champions who have a chance for more than two consecutive World Indoor titles, there are two other Athens 2004 winners who before they think about Olympic laurels once more will be eyeing a third World Indoor gold like Defar; they are Yelena Slesarenko in the women’s High Jump and Yelena Isinbayeva in the women’s Pole Vault.
The most famous of all participants in the history of the World Indoors is of course the reigning women’s 800m champion Maria Mutola. Starting in 1993, Mutola has so far made eight attempts at the World Indoor 800m crown and outstandingly has gathered seven golds and one silver medal.
And there are three more reigning World Indoor champions with multiple titles to chase in Valencia. Alleyne Francique of Grenada looks for his third successive gold at 400m, while Terrence Trammell (60m Hurdles) the winner in 2001 and 2006, and Tatyana Kotova (women’s Long Jump), the victor in 2003 and 2006, are looking for triple titles too.
Kotova’s compatriot Tatyana Lebedeva, who is the reigning two-time World Indoor champion at the women’s Triple Jump is skipping the winter season, to concentrate on retaining her Olympic Long Jump title, and perhaps even a chance of an historic Long and Triple Jump double in Beijing.
Yet whether an athlete decides to compete in Valencia to help them ascertain their winter fitness ahead of the summer or like Lebedeva decides not to interrupt training also with the outdoor season in mind, all eyes in the athletics world will be on the Palau Velódromo Luis Puig in one month’s time.