Keni Harrison at the 2016 Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe (Jean-Pierre Durand) © Copyright
Preview Karlsruhe, Germany

Sprint hurdles to take centre stage in Karlsruhe

For many athletes who competed at the PSD Bank Meeting in Dusseldorf on Wednesday, the IAAF World Indoor Tour will continue just a few hours down the Autobahn at the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe on Saturday (4).

After Dusseldorf provided six world-leading performances on the track, three of which came in the men’s 60m hurdles, more fireworks can be expected over the barriers.

The men’s field includes Orlando Ortega, who outdipped Frenchman Dimitri Bascou for the win in the world-leading 7.51 in Dusseldorf. The latter was due to line-up on Saturday, but an injury sustained during his dive for the line has ruled him out of a rematch. But even with the Olympic bronze medallist’s absence, the field is impressive nonetheless.

Andrew Pozzi recorded an early world lead of 7.56 in Cardiff last Saturday and will be lining up alongside Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who bettered the Briton’s mark by 0.02 in the heats in Karlsruhe. European U23 champion David Omoregie, the youngest in the field, opened his season with a PB 7.68 last weekend and is looking to make his mark on the senior circuit.

On the women’s side, a non-scoring event on the tour, the field reads like a hurdles history lesson. 100m hurdles world record holder Keni Harrison will face Susanna Kallur, who set the 60m hurdles world record of 7.68 at this very meeting nine years ago. Harrison already leads the world at 7.75 from her season opener in Kentucky last month, while Kallur was due to race at the Bauhaus Galan in Stockholm last weekend, but had to pull out due to a slight illness. 

World silver and bronze medallists Cindy Roleder and Alina Talay will have their own rematch from Wednesday night, where both clocked 7.95 season’s bests with Roleder given the win. 2012 Olympic champion Sally Pearson will be celebrating her long-awaited return from injury to the international circuit.

World leaders look to extend tour leads

Another of the six Olympic medallists featuring in Karlsruhe is Hellen Obiri. The 5000m silver medallist from Rio recorded a world-leading 8:39.08 over 3000m on the first leg of the IAAF World Indoor Tour in Boston last Saturday and will be looking to extend her lead in the tour rankings. 

Challenging the Kenyan will be Britain’s Laura Muir. The 23-year-old clocked a 14:49.12 WL over 5000m in Glasgow last month to break the 25-year-old national indoor record by 14 seconds running almost completely by herself. Meanwhile, Konstanze Klosterhalfen still remembers Karlsruhe fondly from last year’s editions where the German set a European junior record of 4:08.38 over 1500m. She will be stepping up in distance for the occasion and join the stellar 3000m field.

The men’s 1500m will see the top three finishers from Dusseldorf take on one another over the seven and a half lap distance in pursuit for World Indoor Tour points. Elijah Manangoi outsprinted compatriot Bethwel Birgen and Silas Kiplagat on Wednesday for a 3:37.62 world lead and could take over the overall lead, which he currently shares with Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz.

Another middle distance runner looking to take over her shared World Indoor Tour lead is Joanna Jozwik. The Pole produced one of the highlights in Dusseldorf when she stormed to victory over 800m in 2:00.91, another world lead. Switzerland’s Selina Buchel, who currently shares the third spot in the tour, came through strongly over the final metres in Dusseldorf to secure 7 points in second. She too could move up in the rankings into second if she can replicate Wednesday’s strong finish.

The lead in the women’s 60m World Indoor Tour rankings is currently shared between English Gardner and Oleysa Povkh, but with neither competing in Karlsruhe, the door to move to the top of the rankings is wide open for those who already secured runner-up spots.

Barbara Pierre earned 7 points in Dusseldorf, finishing just 0.01 behind winner Povkh, and will be lining up in Karlsruhe. The world indoor champion will face European 200m champion and 60m European indoor silver medallist Dina Asher-Smith.

Schwanitz keen to set a mark

After 34 years, this year’s meeting will feature the women’s shot put instead of the men’s for the first time. Headlining the field will be world champion Christina Schwanitz who competed indoors for the first time in three years in Dusseldorf. The German opened her season with 18.14m, but had to settle for second behind Olympic bronze medallist Anita Marton, who took the win with 18.17m and will also be Schwanitz’s biggest challenger in Karlsruhe and for tour points. 

“I just saw a photo of the track here and said ‘oh it looks like the track in Gothenburg where I won my first European indoor title’,” Schwanitz excitedly said at today’s press conference. “Turns out it is actually the same track! I can’t wait to compete on it again.”

Elsewhere in the field, the men’s high jump could see Donald Thomas extend the tour lead he built when winning in Boston with 2.28m, while two athletes could reshuffle the tour standings in the men’s long jump. Damar Forbes of Jamaica and Benjamin Gfholer hold 5 and 3 points respectively, but will face Frenchman Jean-Pierre Bertrand, the only athlete in the field with a leap of over eight metres this season.

The women’s pole vault is also wide open. Alongside local favourite Lisa Ryzih, the field features U20 world record holder Wilma Murto, while the men’s non-scoring 800m includes world indoor bronze medallist Erik Sowinski, who just got pipped to second in Dusseldorf and is keen to build on his performance from Wednesday.

Michelle Sammet for the IAAF

2017 IAAF World Indoor Tour
28 Jan – Boston, USA
1 Feb – Dusseldorf, GER
4 Feb – Karlsruhe, GER
10 Feb – Torun, POL
18 Feb – Birmingham, GBR