Monaco, Feb 07, 2014: The athletics world has been treated to two world indoor records already this year, courtesy of Genzebe Dibaba, so hopes are high that there will be more record-breaking performances in Sopot when the Polish city hosts the IAAF World Indoor Championships (7 to 9 March) exactly one month from today.
Since the 1985 World Indoor Games, the forerunner to the IAAF World Indoor Championships, a total of 38 world records have been set across the history of the event. Naturally, over the course of time, such records become more and more difficult to break, but Dibaba has shown this year that some marks are ripe for the picking.
Within the space of a week, the Ethiopian middle-distance runner has smashed the world indoor records* for the 1500 m and 3000 m.
In the shorter event, she clocked 3:55.17 in Karlsruhe, taking more than three seconds off the previous mark to set an outright African record.
Then five days later in Stockholm, she improved Meseret Defar’s world indoor 3000 m record by seven seconds with 8:16.60, the fastest performance indoors or outdoors since 1993.
Dibaba won gold in the 1500 m at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships, but in Sopot she will move up to the 3000 m. Having comprehensively defeated defending champion Hellen Obiri over that distance in Stockholm, Dibaba is the overwhelming favourite.
Lavillenie flies high
Another athlete with records on their mind is Renaud Lavillenie. The Olympic pole vault champion has been in the form of his life during the 2014 indoor season and owns the top four marks in the world this year.
He has twice been over six metres already, first with 6.04 m in Rouen and then again six days later with a French record of 6.08 m in Bydgoszcz. That mark makes him the second-highest pole vaulter in history behind the legendary Sergey Bubka and Lavillenie attempted to break the Ukrainian’s mark with three strong attempts at 6.16 m.
Eaton aims to make Sopot special
World and Olympic champion Ashton Eaton was one of two world record-breakers at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, improving his own record in the heptathlon with a score of 6645.
The US all-rounder will be taking a break from the decathlon during the summer of 2014, so the heptathlon in Sopot will be his only combined events competition of the year. And he wants to make it a special one.
For the combined events in Sopot, eight athletes will be invited by the IAAF. The first of those will be the winners of the 2013 IAAF Combined Events Challenge, Andrei Krauchanka and Hanna Melnychenko.
The next three invites go to the top three athletes on the 2013 world season lists, assuming they are fit and willing to compete (if not, then the invite goes to the next person on the list). Those three athletes for this year are Eaton, Pascal Behrenbruch and Damian Warner on the men’s side, and Sharon Day, Claudia Rath and Brianne Theisen Eaton for the women’s pentathlon.
As at 17 February, the three best athletes from the 2014 indoor world season lists will be invited to compete, then the invitation for the eighth and final spot will be made at the discretion of the IAAF. —- IAAF