Belgrad (AFP) – World Athletics chairman Sebastian Coe described the line-up for this week’s World Indoor Championships in Belgrade as “incredibly high”.
The championship features a packed field including 12 Tokyo Olympics gold medalists and a host of other world champions.
“Wherever you look, we’ve got some tasty one-on-ones,” Coe said, describing Swedish pole vault star Mondo Duplantis as one of the sport’s “rock stars”, with the personality to back up stellar performances and better promote athletics.
“The raw competition between two athletes at the top of their game is really what the fans want and they are going to get it.”
Belgrade’s Stark Arena hosts the first major championship in a year which also includes the World Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, and the European Championships in Munich, Germany .
AFP Sport looks back on five of the best head-to-heads:
Coleman vs. Jacobs – Men’s 60m
Defending 100m outdoor champion Christian Coleman will defend his 60m title in the Serbian capital after returning from an 18-month ban for violating anti-doping rules. While Coleman was absent from Tokyo, Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs clinched Olympic gold.
The Italian, who competed in the long jump at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in 2017 before switching to sprints a year later, is on a four-fight indoor winning streak, setting up what should be a memorable 60m final in Belgrade. “I’m very happy he’s here,” Coe said of Jacobs’ attendance. “There will clearly be a desire to win a title. He also thinks it’s a good opportunity to test himself in a championship before the outdoor season.”
Duplantis vs. Nilsen – men’s pole vault
Boding well, Duplantis improved his own world record to 6.19m last week in Belgrade. “I don’t think it’s the highest I can ever jump. There’s going to be a lot more to come,” Duplantis swore. “It’s a very good place to jump for championships and I’ll try to put something else higher.”
There are three other jumpers who cleared 6.00m or better, with American Chris Nilsen, who won silver behind Duplantis in Tokyo, most likely to upset the Swede after setting a North American record in 6.05m room in Rouen last week. All eyes will be on the height of the bar.
Miller-Uibo vs. Bol – Women’s 400m
“It’s going to be a great couple,” Coe predicted of the showdown between Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Bahamas’ two-time Olympic 400m champion, and Dutch youngster Femke Bol.
The Bahamian all-rounder isn’t a regular in indoor competition, but Bol is – the Dutchman, who won Olympic bronze in Tokyo, has been unbeaten indoors for two years.
Ingebrigtsen vs Tefera – 1500m men
The men’s 1500m will see Olympic gold medalist Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway seek to oust Ethiopian Samuel Tefera as world indoor champion.
“It warms my heart to see this,” said Coe, himself a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the outdoor 1500m for Great Britain.
Based on their recent clash in Lievin, where Ingebrigtsen broke Tefera’s 1500m indoor world record in 3:30.60, the pressure and expectations will be on the 21-year-old Norwegian.
Vuleta v Ugen – women’s long jump
Home fans at Stark Arena will be supporting Serbian star Ivana Vuleta (née Spanovic) when she takes to the track. The 31-year-old is the reigning world indoor champion and has the highest mark in the field this year – the 6.88m she jumped at the World Indoor Tour silver meeting in Belgrade last week. last.
Vuleta also jumped 6.83m three times in this competition, a record none of her rivals have reached this year. Britain’s Lorraine Ugen has jumped 6.75m this season and will no doubt push the Serbian all the way at home.
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