A championship is made by great competition, but a World record is a moment its spectators remember for years. Today’s competition programme at the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships features not just one but three recent World record setters, and while nothing is ever certain, the chances of a record mark coming out of Saturday's (8th) schedule are perhaps better than usual.
Isinbayeva need only do her best
Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva should need no introduction, having dominated the women's pole vault since 2004. She was scarcely taxed by Friday's preliminaries, checking in, registering her intended opening height (4.55m) and then napping until called upon to make her single attempt at that height (which was, naturally, successful.)
Isinbayeva raised her own World indoor record mark to 4.95m (pending
ratification) last month in Donetsk, and while her compatriot Svetlana Feofanova has found Isinbayeva not to be invincible this year, simply vaulting at her best may be enough to bring Isinbayeva to heights not reached by any woman under cover on Saturday.
Kallur still building
Barring disaster, Sweden’s Susanna Kallur will run three 60m Hurdles races on Saturday: qualifying rounds, semi-finals, and the final. For Kallur, who took the World record down to 7.68 (also pending ratification) last month in Karlsruhe, that's three shots at running a PB. Kallur has run the five fastest races this season, and eight of the ten fastest, which makes her as close to dominant as a short hurdler can really be.
The clash between season-leading Dayron Robles (CUB) and Liu Xiang
(CHN) in the men's hurdles could be momentous in its own way, and with Xiang owning the outdoor hurdles record it's possible that a record could be required from either simply to defeat the other.
Defar has record seniority
Meseret Defar is the World record holder in her event, the 3000m, but unlike Kallur and Isinbayeva she didn't set it this year; instead, she established a new world best in the two mile, an event all of 218m longer. Defar who is seeking her third title at this distance may find herself pressed to a record time in the final, however, as her compatriot Meselech Melkamu, the second-fastest 3000m runner in history, posted a faster qualifying mark on Friday (8), and Defar herself was followed closely to the line in her qualifying heat by New Zealand's Kim Smith, who also ran under the old Two-Mile best when Defar set the new mark. Two athletes might run cautiously and watch each other, but Smith prefers a fast-paced race and neither of the Ethiopians will want to let her get away.
Harder to call: field events
With nine men qualifying at the same height in the High Jump (why raise the bar once you've qualified?), Friday's preliminaries gave little indication of who was feeling good for Saturday's final. The nine in the final include previous champions Stefan Holm (SWE) and Yaroslav Rybakov (RUS).
The women's Triple Jump is similarly murky, with Hrysopiyi Devetzi of Greece leading Friday's qualification and the outdoor World champion, Yargelis Savigne (CUB) struggling.
Anyone's race for 1500m - if they'll take it
Also on the track Saturday will be the men's 1500m final, and fireworks are promised after Friday's preliminaries. There are no lightweights in the final, with two Ethiopians, two Kenyans (including the latest eminent Kenyan miler, Daniel Kipchirchir Komen), Juan Carlos "The Lion" Higuero of Spain, Commonwealth Games champion Nick Willis (NZL) and 2005 double outdoor World champion Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain just a fraction of the contenders. The race could be scripted to favour any of them, but they will have to write their own script when the race begins.
Prelims to watch
Yesterday's Pentathlon champion Tia Hellebaut of belgium, the European champion in the indivdual High Jump will not contest that event's preliminaries on Saturday, so most attention will be on the magnetic Croat, Blanka Vlasic, who has flirted with records since last summer.
The 800m and 400m races for both men and women will run semi-finals on Saturday as well, picking finalists from those left after Friday's qualifying rounds.
Also on Saturday will be the first four events of the Heptathlon, where American Bryan Clay will attempt to make up for his disappointing Osaka outing by taking on Czech Roman Sebrle and Kazakhstan's Dmitry Karpov.
Parker Morse for the IAAF