Mariya Bolikova, the fastest in the world this year, advanced easily in 7.26, despite a sluggish start in Round One of the women's 60m in Moscow (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Moscow, Russia

World Indoor Championships - Expected Highlights, DAY ONE,

It would be fair to assume that when Mariya Bolikova finished eighth in her 100 metres semi-final at last summer’s 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki, Finland, few people outside of her country would have taken note. Today, the 11th IAAF World Indoor Championships arrive on home soil and by this evening she could be the gold medallist.

Russia’s Bolikova is the fastest woman in the world this year over 60m with the 7.04 she ran last month. It was further confirmation of her ability over a distance where she has been the Russian indoor champion for the last four winters.

As the 60m finals bring the individual events to a close on this opening day of the championships in Moscow, will Bolikova deliver?

If she does, she will do it the hard way because she faces tough opposition from Me'Lisa Barber, who won the USA trials in Boston in 7.05, and Christine Arron, the 1998 European 100m champion, who has run 7.06 this year.

The men’s 60m could be dominated by Americans. Leonard Scott, with the fastest time in the world this year of 6.52, beat Terrence Trammell, who will be looking to make the podium this evening before tomorrow beginning his challenge in his arguably main event, the 60m hurdles, for which he is favourite and world leader.

The Championships begin with the qualifying rounds of the High Jump where two men who won medals in Helsinki will resume their competition. Though last summer’s champion Yuriy Krymarenko, of the Ukraine, is not here, Victor Moya, of Cuba, who finished second, and Yaroslav R ybalov, of Russia, who finished third, are. They both cleared heights of 2.29m in Helsinki, with Moya winning the silver on countback.

The women’s Pentathlon will start and finish today and while it has become a wide open event with the absence of Carolina Kluft, of the Sweden, the Olympic and world heptathlon champion, and Lithuania’s Austra Skujyte, Karin Ruckstuhl, of the Netherlands, should improve upon her fourth position from Budapest two years ago.

But at 11.10am local time, one of the potential stars of the first global track and field championships to be held in Russia will run when the second heat of the men’s 3000m takes place. Kenenisa Bekele, of Ethiopia, is the Olympic and double World 10,000m champion, but he has never won an indoor gold medal.
By Sunday afternoon’s final, that might be different, but just his presence will bring a sparkle to the opening morning.

Richard Lewis for the IAAF