Monthly Archives: February 2013

European Indoor Championships – men’s preview

The 32nd edition might not go down as a classic with many of the continent’s finest choosing not to compete this winter and while the Brits will be without the services of our three Olympic champions, the team still arrives with medal chances throughout the entirety of the programme. Meanwhile, a knowledgeable and passionate Gothenburg crowd will be pinning their hopes on Michel Torneus in the long jump and world-leader Abeba Aregawi over 1500m.  

Men’s sprints

Not since 1987 has a British sprinter failed to make the podium in the 60m and UK indoor champion James Dasaolu and Dwain Chambers will be keen to continue this remarkable trend. Both of them have demonstrated sharp form with 6.58 season’s bests but the latter has been hampered by a back injury which still appeared to bother the 2009 champion in Birmingham a fortnight ago as he failed to progress from his heat.

Even if Chambers was at full-fitness, the outcome still wouldn’t be a certainty. The field is headed by Italy’s Michael Tumi and Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut who have posted times Chambers hasn’t matched since 2010. Tumi leads the rankings with a national record of 6.51 from world finalist Vicaut, who has run between 6.53 and 6.57 in his six races this year.

The British triumvirate of Nigel Levine, Richard Strachan and Michael Bingham are all ranked inside the top-seven in Europe and while this depth stands the quartet in good stead for the relay, the individual 400m will be a much tougher assignment. Brian Gregan could emulate former two-time champion David Gillick as the Irishman leads the rankings with a 46.07 PB from January which he followed up with victory in Gent over two Olympic finalists (Jonathan Borlee and Luguelin Santos).

The powerfully-built Russian Pavel Trenikhin, who won the Glasgow International in January, is always a danger indoors while European outdoor champion Pavel Maslak arrives fresh from a win over Strachan at the XL Galan in Stockholm last week.

Sergey Shubenkov, whose mother Natalya was a 6800-plus heptathlete in the 1980s, looks set to add the 60m hurdles title to his European outdoor and under-23 crowns. He won the Russian indoor title in a 7.50 PB before finishing second in Birmingham. First and second at the French Championships, Pascal Lagarde Martinot and Dmitri Bascou are ranked second and third in Europe with 7.53 and 7.56 respectively and lead the hunt for the minor medals.

Men’s middle-distances

The non-selection of any British representatives in the 1500m has been the selection talking point but a full quota of athletes have been chosen for the 800m. Indoor rookie Michael Rimmer leads the rankings from Mukhtar Mohammed and along with UK indoor champion Joe Thomas, they all have reasonable medal chances if they run tactically well. Despite the paucity of fast times, sub-1:44 outdoor performer Kevin Lopez will be a danger based on his victory over a strong field in Karlsruhe containing, among others, defending champion Adam Kszczot from Poland.

World indoor 1500m silver medallist Ilham Tanui Ozbilen ran a solo 3:37.49 at the Balkan Championships and the Kenyan import could give the Turks something to cheer about although steeplechase specialists Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad and Bouabdellah Tahri (also entered into the 3000m) will feature prominently in their secondary event. In a slower race though, the balance of power might shift to the Spanish trio including Arturo Casado and Poland’s half-miler Marcin Lewandowski.

Hayle Ibrahimov almost outsprinted Mo Farah for the title two years ago and suffice to say, the Azerbaijani will benefit from the double Olympic champion’s absence this year. It will be interesting to see how the continent’s fastest 1500m runner Ciaran O’Lionaird fares as he steps up in distance. Florian Carvalho, the runner-up to Farah in Birmingham a fortnight ago, is another of the medal threats along with Spanish veteran Juan Carlos Higuero although at 34, his sprint finish probably isn’t as good as it once was.

Men’s field

Robbie Grabarz faces three athletes who have jumped higher than he has in 2013, including world outdoor silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik. The 28-year-old has defeated Grabarz twice in 2013 and his season’s best of 2.36m is five centimetres superior to Grabarz’s best mark this winter. However, Grabarz has deliberately competed sparingly in a ploy to be as fresh as possible for Gothenburg and the Olympic bronze medallist showed convincing form with two good attempts at 2.39m at the UK Indoor Championships.

Other threats come from Russia’s Sergey Mudrov and Italy’s Silvano Chesani, who cleared 2.34m and 2.33m respectively to win their domestic indoor titles.

The standard of the pole-vault would grace any major global championship but Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie won’t be too daunted by the opposition as he goes for a three-peat. The 2009 and 2011 champion is unbeaten this year and comes into the competition on the back of a world-leading 5.94m vault. Bjorn Otto is only ranked four centimetres behind Lavillenie but German had to settle for silver behind the reigning champion at three major championships last year.

Expectations will be high for Olympic fourth-placer Michel Torneus as he improved the Swedish long jump record to 8.20m for victory in Stockholm last week. Russian Aleksandr Menkov and Christian Reif from Germany could deny a home victory though.

Marian Oprea is reaching the tail-end of his career but the Romanian could claim his first major senior title as the perennial minor-medallist leads the fledging triple jump rankings with 17.17m. Fabrizio Donato, who jumped 17.73m for the silver medal in 2011, is also on the entry-list but the Italian hasn’t competed this year. What form will he show in his first competition in 2013?

A rare gold medal could be won for Serbia by Asmir Kolasinac in the shot put as he comes fresh from victory at the Balkan Championships in a 20.54m season’s best.

Heptathlon

The stunning form Eelco Sintnicolaas displayed at the Dutch Championships makes him the sizeable favourite in the heptathlon. The 2010 European decathlon silver medallist improved the Dutch record to 6341 and his score moves him into the European all-time top-ten. Only Adam Helcelet and 2009 champion Mikk Pahapill with 6040 and 6024 respectively, have also broken the 6000-barrier in 2013.

Published in Athletics Weekly on February 28

 

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European Indoor Championships – women’s preview

Britain won three gold medals in Paris but out of that triumvirate, only Jenny Meadows will be defending her European indoor title this weekend. The 800m runner is among the team’s leading aspirants for medals along with Asha Philip, Perri Shakes-Drayton, Holly Bleasdale and Shara Proctor in Gothenburg. 

Women’s sprints

Gothenburg has twice hosted these championships and on both occasions, British athletes have come away with medals in the 60m through Andrea Lynch in 1974 and Bev Kinch in 1984. Surely this is a good omen for Asha Philip, who is ranked second in Europe this year with a 7.15 PB?

Unlike some events, most of Europe’s best are giving the 60m their due regard and this should ensure a high-quality final. Mariya Ryemyen is the fastest with a 7.12 PB and the Ukrainian will be looking to upgrade her silver medal from 2011 in the absence of team-mate Olesya Povh. Fellow sub-7.2 performers Verena Sailer, Ivet Lalova and British-based Norwegian Ezinne Okparaebo, who is gunning for a hat-trick of European indoor medals, will also be in title contention.

Perri Shakes-Drayton and Eilidh Child started the season with scant indoor experience but the 400m hurdlers have both enjoyed fruitful campaigns on the boards which should climax with medals over 400m. They ran 51.37 and 51.50 respectively in Birmingham which ranks them a close second and third in Europe to Ksenia Ustalova’s 51.31. Ustalova is the sole Russian representative in the individual with no doubt most of her team-mates choosing to keep their powder dry with the World Championships in Moscow on the horizon.

The Russians have named a strong relay-pool but Christine Ohuruogu’s inclusion in the British team might give our quartet a marginal edge.

Two-time European outdoor champion Nevin Yanit concluded her preparations with a 7.98 Turkish 60m hurdles record to win the Balkan Championships. A quartet of athletes led by Yuliya Kondakova’s 7.93 have run slightly faster but Yanit is a championship specialist as illustrated by her fifth-place at the Olympics.

Women’s middle-distances

Team captain Jenny Meadows made an auspicious comeback after eighteen months out and a 2:02.86 performance a fortnight ago in Birmingham convinced her to defend the title she was retroactively handed after Evgeniya Zinurova’s disqualification due to a doping violation.

Russian athletes hold the ten fastest times in Europe but their selectors have adopted an approach of prioritising quality rather than quantity. Despite an embarrassment of riches to choose from, Yelena Kotulskaya (nee Kofanova) is their sole representative and she’ll be the Brit’s greatest danger as her outdoor PB of 1:57.77 is marginally faster than Meadows’ 1:57.93.

Many events lack a resounding favourite but the home-crowd will be pleased this is not the case over 1500m as Abeba Aregawi arrives in fearless form. The 1500m in Stockholm last week was her first race for her adopted nation and the 22-year-old made an emphatic statement with a 3:58.40 national record. Her time was just 0.12 shy of Yelena Soboleva’s world indoor record and even though Soboleva’s in the Russian team, don’t expect her to be a threat as she hasn’t broken the 4:10-barrier in 2013.

The 3000m is much more difficult to call though. Yelena Korobkina’s 8:50.42 leads the way but sole British representative Lauren Howarth, who ran 8:52.00 in Birmingham, could cap her breakthrough campaign with a major title. European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton from Ireland, fourth-placer Almensch Belete from Belgium and former silver medallist Sara Moreira from Portugal are also among the dangers.

Women’s field

Holly Bleasdale has a great chance of claiming her first major title as she is the holder of the two best vaults in Europe with 4.75m and 4.77m. She had a minor setback in Stockholm finishing fourth with 4.45m but she tweeted afterwards the run-up was her best ever which hopefully bodes well for Gothenburg.

She will need to rediscover her 4.70m-plus form in order to fend off the Russian threat of Anastasiya Savchenko, who has improved markedly since crashing out in Olympic qualifying last year. Savchenko has upped her PB from 4.60m to 4.71m and what’s more, she’s also beaten Bleasdale in their last two encounters in Bydgoszcz and Stockholm.

Shara Proctor produced a season’s best of 6.78m to win in Birmingham and the UK record-holder now comes up against a field including some of her likely rivals at the World Championships this summer. Two of Russia’s finest in reigning champion Darya Klishina and world outdoor silver medallist Olga Kucherenko, who holds the world-leading mark at 7.00m, are set to start along with European outdoor champion Eloyse Lesueur from France.

Two-time European outdoor triple jump champion Olha Saladuha makes her first appearance at these championships and the Ukrainian starts as the comprehensive favourite. An operation in the off-season accounts for Yamile Aldama’s slow start to the winter but a 13.91m season’s best in Birmingham indicates she’s rounding into competitive form.

Yevgeniya Kolodko is one of the few Russian A-listers making the trip but the Olympic silver medallist might play second-fiddle to Germany’s Christina Schwanitz, the holder of the three best puts in 2013 including a world-leading 19.79m.

Alessia Trost is unbeaten in the high jump this year and the Italian starts as the favourite ahead of former Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut and Spanish veteran Ruth Beitia. 

Pentathlon

The pentathlon lacks some lustre with Jessica Ennis, Tatyana Chernova and Nataliya Dobrynska all absent but the competition should be intriguing nonetheless. Antoniette Nana Djimou Ida will defend her title against a line-up including world-leader Yekaterina Bolshova, who will be looking to convert her best form to the major events this year.

The field also contains up-and-comers such as Kristina Savitskaya and Laura Ikauniece, who were eighth and ninth aged 21 and 20 respectively at the Olympics, and 18-year-old Nafissatou Thiam from Belgium, who recently broke Carolina Kluft’s world junior record.

Published in Athletics Weekly on February 28

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Quiz: Getting to grips with Gothenburg

Some Gothenburg-themed trivia to get in the mood for the European Indoor Championships next week. All questions are based on major championships held in Gothenburg including two previous editions of the European Indoor Championships, the 1995 World Championships and the 2006 European Championships. Good luck!

  1. Who was Britain’s only gold medallist when Gothenburg held the 1974 European Indoor Championships?
  2. Which Brit finished second to Renata Stecher in the 60m at the same championships?
  3. Which Romanian won the European indoor women’s 1500m title at the 1984 European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg?
  4. Who was the only athlete to win individual gold medals at the 1974 and 1984 European Indoor Championships?
  5. Which man won a silver medal in the 1500m in 1974 and bronze in the same event in 1984?
  6. Who won the European under-23 women’s 10,000m title in Gothenburg in 1999 and another medal at the 2006 European Championships?
  7. Which woman took a 100/200m double at the 1999 European Under-23 Championships?
  8. Stefan Holm and Linus Thornblad both cleared which height at the 2007 Swedish Championships?
  9. Which pair of sisters reached the 5000m final at the 1995 World Championships?
  10. Who cleared 5.93m to win the European under-23 pole-vault title in 1999?
  11. Which thrower won a world title in 1995 and another medal at the 2006 European Championships?
  12. Maryse Maury (married name) won a silver medal in the high jump at the 1984 European Indoor Championships. Which famous hurdler is her sister?

Farah to bring house down

The British Athletics Grand Prix in Birmingham is widely regarded as the world’s premier indoor meeting and the gathering of global superstars for the 2013 edition confirms this accolade. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Carmelita Jeter and Lerone Clarke will headline the sprint events while double Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah rounds off the programme over 3000m.

12.47pm – women’s 400m national (world-lead 51.31, Ksenia Ustalova, UKA qualifying standard 53.25)

Margaret Adeoye has excelled over 200m this winter but the UK indoor champion will try her hand over twice the distance. She faces Laura Wake, Meghan Beesley and Christine Ohuruogu’s younger sister Victoria in what will be just her third ever indoor race at the distance.

12.55pm – men’s 400m national (WL 45.83, David Verburg, UKA 46.90)

This domestic race is always of a very high standard and the outcome will no doubt prove decisive in determining individual and relay berths for the European Indoor Championships. Richard Buck, the winner last year in a 45.88 PB, is in the line-up along with Jack Green who hasn’t raced since dislocating his shoulder in a collision on this track at the start of the month.

1.03pm – women’s pole-vault (WL 4.77m, Holly Bleasdale, UKA 4.50m)

Holly Bleasdale goes head-to-head with Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva from Cuba who cleared a national record of 4.76m in Donetsk on the same day Bleasdale won the UK Indoor Championships in a world-leading 4.77m. The two protagonists met for the first time this season in Moscow and Bleasdale prevailed with a 4.75m clearance to Silva’s 4.65m although Silva turned the tables on the Brit midweek in Bydgoszcz.

1.08pm – women’s long jump (WL 7.00m, Olga Kucherenko, UKA 6.65m)

Shara Proctor broke the UK indoor record in this arena last year with 6.80m and while the world indoor bronze medallist isn’t perhaps in this form just yet, the 24-year-old will be looking for a repeat victory as the field isn’t the strongest in the absence of the Russians who dominate the world-rankings. However, it does contain Melanie Bauschke from Germany whose recent indoor PB of 6.68m is more than 20cm in excess of Proctor’s season’s best of 6.44m.

1.13pm – men’s 60m heats (WL 6.51, Yuniel Perez, UKA 6.60)

Lerone Clarke has struggled to establish himself on the Jamaican team for global outdoor championships but the 31-year-old has excelled on the boards, winning this meeting last year in a Caribbean record of 6.47. Nesta Carter, who was a close second to his team-mate last year in a PB of 6.49, will be among his main rivals along with former world 100m champion Kim Collins. Last year’s final was devoid of British participation but Dwain Chambers should ensure domestic interest based on the sub-6.6 form he’s already displayed in 2013.

1.32pm – men’s 400m (WL 45.83, David Verburg, UKA 46.90)

The British pair of Nigel Levine and Richard Strachan have a great chance of making an impact on this race as Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos is yet to break 47-seconds indoors this year. However, Olympic bronze medallist Lalonde Gordon will be a danger and looks set for a fast season’s debut after a world-leading 200m of 20.60 last month.

1.42pm – women’s 60m hurdles (WL 7.78, Brianna Rollins, UKA 8.10)

Eline Berings’ withdrawal leaves Tiffany Porter with a great chance of grabbing a high-profile victory on home-soil as she’s the only hurdler to dip below the eight-second barrier in 2013. Danielle Carruthers, the runner-up to Jessica Ennis last year, is the fastest 100m hurdler in the field with 12.47 so cannot be disregarded.

1.52pm – women’s 60m heats (WL, 7.00, Murielle Ahoure, UKA 7.30)

The organisers have arranged a lip-smacking line-up headed by world 100m champion Carmelita Jeter and two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who will be racing indoors for the first time. However, considering Jeter’s defeat to Verena Sailer in Glasgow and Fraser-Pryce’s inexperience indoors, the pre-race favourite is arguably the American-based Ivorian Murielle Ahuore, who set the yardstick with a 7.00 world-lead last month and holds the six fastest times in the world in 2013.

2.11pm – men’s 1500m (WL, 3:34.78, Galen Rupp, UKA 3:42.00)

Sub-3:30 outdoor performer Silas Kiplagat boasts the impressive credentials but the world silver medallist will still need to run close to his indoor PB of 3:35.26 to ensure victory as team-mate Bethwel Birgen has already clocked a marginally faster time for the distance this winter. Also watch out for 18-year-old world youth champion Teshome Diressa from Ethiopia as he looks set for a breakthrough season.

2.21pm – men’s 60m hurdles heats (WL 7.50 Kevin Craddock and Sergey Shubenkov, UKA 7.65)

Despite the withdrawal of Olympic 110m hurdles champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt, the field is still of a very high calibre including the joint world-leaders Kevin Craddock and Sergey Shubenkov, and the world’s next fastest Omo Osaghae. Andy Pozzi, who pulled out of the trials final as a precaution, is also due to start.

2.36pm – men’s high jump (WL 2.37m, Mutaz Essa Barshim, UKA 2.29m)

Robbie Grabarz renews his rivalry with Aleksey Dmitrik, who looks set to be his greatest rival at the European Indoor Championships next month. The Russian beat Grabarz last month in Glasgow and has since set an indoor PB of 2.36m which is two centimetres in excess of Grabarz’s corresponding indoor lifetime best. However, Grabarz showed commanding form at the UK Indoor Championships with a 2.31m victory before two respectable attempts at 2.39m. Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov is also in the field although his form has fluctuated this winter and might not pose as much of a threat.

2.40pm – women’s 1500m (WL 4:02.25 Genzebe Dibaba, UKA 4:14.00)

Genzebe Dibaba won last year by more than eight-seconds and expect the Ethiopian to deliver another solo demonstration as a 4:02.25 world-lead in Karlsruhe shows she’s back in shape after a hamstring injury compromised her Olympic campaign. The field also contains world silver medallist Hannah England, who races for the first time in 2013.

2.50pm – men’s 60m final (WL 6.51 Yuniel Perez, UKA 6.60)

The world-leading mark currently stands at 6.51 to Yunier Perez from Cuba. Could we see the season’s first sub-6.50 clocking in the final?

2.56pm – women’s triple jump (WL 14.52m, Olha Saladuha, UKA 14.10m)

Despite having never surpassed 15m, Olha Saladuha from Ukraine has been the world’s leading exponent over the past two seasons and she confirmed this by opening her campaign with a world-leading 14.52m in Dusseldorf. The scrap for the minor placings looks set to be between the veterans including 2001 and 2003 world champion Tatyana Lebedeva, 2005 world champion Trecia Smith and reigning world indoor champion Yamile Aldama who turns 41 this summer.

3.03pm – women’s 3000m (WL 8:35.28 Meseret Defar, UKA 8:51.00)

Domestic interest in this race includes Eilish McColgan, Helen Clitheroe, Jessica Judd and UK indoor champion Lauren Howarth and they face a sold field including steeplechase specialists Ancuta Bobocel and Polina Jelizarova.

3.22pm – women’s 60m final (WL 7.00, Murielle Ahoure, UKA 7.30)

Only LaVerne Jones-Ferrette in 2010 has achieved a sub-seven second performance this millennium but this statistic might be revised based on the depth of the line-up. Even if this barrier proves elusive, the stadium and UK all-comers’ record of 7.04 does look ready for an improvement.

3.32pm – men’s 800m (WL 1:46.72, Kevin Lopez, UKA 1:48.00)

Abubaker Kaki races indoors for the first time since 2011 and with Matt Scherer on pacemaking duties, the modest world-leading mark of 1:46.72 should be within the world silver medallist’s grasp. All of the leading British athletes including UK indoor champion Joe Thomas, runner-up Mukhtar Mohammed and Olympic finalist Andrew Osagie are pencilled down to compete.

3.42pm – women’s 800m (WL 1:59.58, Yekaterina Kupina, UKA 2:03.50)

Jenny Meadows’ name is on the entry-list and if the reigning European indoor champion competes, this will be her first competitive outing since September 2011. She will come up against a field including Olympic bronze medallist Ekaterina Poistogova from Russia and UK outdoor champion Lysney Sharp.

3.53pm – women’s 400m (WL 51.31, Ksenia Ustalova, UKA 53.25)

Eilidh Child and Perri Shakes-Drayton have both displayed sharp form on the flat with indoor PBs of 52.06 and 52.13 respectively and the 400m hurdlers could take the scalps of some very good 400m flat specialists.

4.04pm – men’s 60m hurdles final (WL 7.50, Kevin Craddock and Sergey Shubenkov, UKA 7.65)

Merritt’s withdrawals means Colin Jackson’s stadium and UK all-comers’ record should last into 2014 but a revision of the world-leading mark should be an attainable target.

4.15pm – men’s 3000m (WL 7:32.87, Hagos Gebrhiwot, UKA 7:50.00)

Mo Farah only has two races on his itinerary for the time being and the first of them should be a formality as the field is comprised largely of domestic athletes. Frenchman Florian Carvalho could offer a modicum of opposition as he’s run sub-3:34 for 1500m but the double Olympic champion looks destined to make a winning start on the track where he’s set UK indoor records at 3000m, two-miles and 5000m. 

Published in Athletics Weekly on February 14

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Farah goes in the 3000m…but where’s the opposition?

A perennial bugbear of mine when it comes to British athletics meetings (well, apart from the Aviva hot-seat competition) is a persistent attitude of pandering to our star athletes by fielding watered-down line-ups to face them. Thankfully this is no longer as prevalent at the Diamond League meetings in London and Birmingham (probably because they can’t be as picky when drafting the entry-lists) but alas, on Saturday, we’ll see Mo Farah at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix in a spectacle which will probably be more akin to an exhibition than a race. He goes over 3000m and the field is largely comprised of domestic athletes, no doubt with the intention of safeguarding Farah to maximise the chances of a home victory.

I do understand the rationale of the meet organisers as I was at the National Indoor Arena last year and in truth, Farah’s defeat to Eliud Kipchoge was an anti-climactic curtain-closer, particularly after a succession of domestic triumphs throughout the afternoon including Jessica Ennis’ win in the 60m hurdles. While the sense of disappointment was palpable though, the race clearly demonstrated to the hardcore supporters Farah was in superb shape and able to challenge for gold medals at the Olympic Games. Running at a distance below his specialist event, Farah’s time of 8:08.07 had only been bettered Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, Hicham El Guerrouj and other all-time greats and I’m sure Farah gained more from that race than he will up against a second-rate field on Saturday.

There does seem to be a clash of interests between the more fair-weather fans and the avid followers which is represented by the meagre field assembled for the last event of the afternoon on Saturday but the organisers could have come to some sort of middle ground and arranged a more competitive race. I’m aware Farah hasn’t raced since September and won’t be in tiptop shape but he can surely handle pretty much any sort of line-up you throw at him. He is the double Olympic champion after all. 

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*Asha Philip produced one of the best performances of the weekend setting a stadium record and lifetime best of 7.15 to win the 60m but the trajectory of her 2012 season serves as a cautionary tale to those making any sort of predictions for the summer. After a breakthrough indoor campaign, injuries compromised the rest of the year to the extent she only raced five times outdoors over 100m. However, let’s hope she remains injury free as her PB of 11.37 set in the year she won the world youth title in 2007 isn’t close to representative of her ability.

*It was also pleasing to see James Dasaolu win his first senior title nearly four years after coming to prominence domestically with a 10.09 100m PB and his winning time of 6.58 shows reigning champion Dwain Chambers would have needed to be close to his best had he not pulled out with injury. Dasaolu’s another athlete who’s struggled to stay injury free but the 25-year-old enjoyed his best ever outdoor season last year and his performances on the boards in 2013 suggests his winter training went largely interrupted too.

*Eilidh Child’s progress in the 400m hurdles has stalled somewhat after improving from 56.84 to 55.32 in 2009. Since then, she’s only gone below 55-seconds once but the Scotswoman looks set to rewrite her PB of 54.96 if her flat form is anything to go by. The 400m indoors is an event which can look unflattering on the clock but her times in the semi-final (52.06) and final (52.13) were both faster than her outdoor PB of 52.28. Maybe she could have gone even faster if her main rival Perri Shakes-Drayton wasn’t a late withdrawal?

*Despite the absence of high-profile performers such as Phillips Idowu and Greg Rutherford, the horizontal jumps were looking in surprisingly rude health in Sheffield as many of the lesser lights made an impact. Kola Adedoyin (16.50m) and Michael Puplampu (16.43m) were second and third in the triple jump behind Tosin Oke from Nigeria, adding 25cm and 24cm respectively to their PBs. At 23, Puplampu is ineligible for the European Under-23 Championships but his training partner can look forward to challenging for medals if he builds on this showing.

*In the long jump, Matthew Burton produced a PB of 7.94m to beat joint UK record-holder Chris Tomlinson. At 25, Burton isn’t exactly a newcomer to the sport but he seems an athlete on the up based on his indoor form. However, while the 8m-barrier is a realistic target, qualification for the major championships might remain just a pipe-dream. The preposterous World Championships ‘A’ standard of 8.25m is largely beyond the capabilities of all but a select group of athletes globally and even the UKA standard for the European Indoor Championships, an event often used as a developmental championships for emerging athletes, stands at a rather intimidating 8.15m. Hopefully the selectors will consider factors beyond qualifying times and distances when they name the team. 

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Quiz: How well do you know indoor athletics?

  1. Who was the first athlete to break 3:50 indoors for the mile? Eamonn Coghlan, 3:49.78 in 1983
  2. Who is the only man to have won European indoor titles at 400m and 800m? Luciano Susanj. He won the 400m in 1973 in a world record (or world best) of 46.38 and the 800m the following year 
  3. Igor Ter-Ovanesyan’s world record of 8.23m from the inaugural European Indoor Championships in 1966 stood as a championship record until 1986. Who broke it? Robert Emmiyan, 8.32m
  4. Which Brit took silver behind Silke Gladisch in the 60m at the World Indoor Championships in 1985? Heather Oakes
  5. Who are the only husband-wife combo to win shot put titles at the European Indoor Championships? (not necessarily in the same year) Bit of a trick question as they weren’t married at the time but Hartmut Briesenick (1970-72) and Ilona Slupianek (1979, 81) both won European indoor shot put titles
  6. Which 800m specialist won the world indoor 1500m women’s title in 2001? Hasna Benhassi
  7. Brittney Reese has won the last two world indoor long jump titles. Who is the only other American woman to win this title? Dawn Burell
  8. Which multi-eventer won the world indoor pentathlon title in 2001 before taking silver to Carolina Kluft in 2003? Natalya Sazanovich
  9. Who is the only female shot-putter to win European indoor medals in three different decades? Larisa Peleshenko (silver in 1988 and 1994 and gold in 2000)
  10. Which is the only current world indoor record set by a teenager? He wasn’t a junior but Kerron Clement ran 44.57 for the 400m in 2005 to break the world record
  11. Gabriela Szabo won the world indoor 1500/3000m double in 1999. Who is the only other athlete to have won both titles? (not necessarily in the same year) Elly Van Hulst. She won the 1500m in 1985 and the 3000m in 1989 in a world record.
  12. Who was the first non-Soviet born athlete to win the world indoor pole-vault title in 1999? Jean Galfione

A high jump classic in the making?

The high jump has given us some enthralling competitions in recent indoor seasons (remember this one?) and we could get another one tomorrow as Aleksey Dmitrik takes on Mutaz Essa Barshim in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia. They’ve been trading the world-lead all winter and this will be their second encounter of 2013, with Barshim prevailing in Trinec last week. He then improved the world-lead to 2.37m in Moscow (which he cleared on his first attempt!) less than twenty-four hours after Dmitrik regained it with a 2.36m clearance in Arnstadt. Their recent form demonstrates they should both be capable of challenging Ivan Ukhov’s meeting record of 2.38m. 

Barshim in 2013

13/1/2013 Kristianstad 2.30m
20/1/2013 Vaxjo 2.33m
26/1/2013 Hustopece 2.30m
29/1/2013 Trinec 2.34m
3/2/2013 Moscow 2.37m =AR

Dmitrik in 2013

20/1/2013 St. Petersburg 2.31m
26/1/2013 Glasgow 2.31m
29/1/2013 Trinec 2.31m
2/2/2013 Arnstadt 2.36m

Best marks in Banska Bystrica

2.38m Ivan Ukhov 2010
2.38m Ukhov 2011
2.37m Stefan Holm 2007
2.36m Sorin Matei 1995
2.36m Andrey Sokolovskiy 2006
2.36m Linus Thornblad 2009
2.36m Jesse Williams 2009
2.34m Holm 2003
2.34m Holm 2004
2.34m Thornblad 2006
2.34m Holm 2008
2.34m Williams 2011
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