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News16 Feb 2016

Stockholm press conference highlights – IAAF World Indoor Tour


Genzebe Dibaba at the press conference ahead of the Globen Galan in Stockholm (© Hasse Sjogren)

Genzebe Dibaba, who will target the world indoor mile record at Wednesday’s Globen Galan in Stockholm – the third meeting in the new IAAF World Indoor Tour series – may end up breaking two world marks on the night.

Measures are being taken to record her time at the 1500m point – a distance at which she is already world record-holder thanks to clocking 3:55.17 in Karlsruhe two years ago.

The 25-year-old Ethiopian has set world indoor records for the 3000m and 5000m at the past two editions of this meeting, and she told the media at the Ericsson Globe Arena today: “I have been able to fulfil my dreams here at this Arena. I feel very comfortable here and I want to have a third world record on this track.

“After the 3000m and the 5000m, this time it will be very different. I don’t know exactly how I will run, but we will see.”

Commenting on the last-minute withdrawal of Sweden’s world indoor 1500m champion Abeba Aregawi due to the recurrence of a back problem, Dibaba added: “My main aim here is to go for the record, so it doesn’t matter whether Aregawi is there or not, although she is very strong so maybe she could have helped with the pace.”

Looking ahead to next month’s IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016, Dibaba said she was considering attempting both the 1500m and the 3000m. “I will probably double,” she said. “But I will decide after this meeting.”

Meanwhile her training partner Ayanleh Souleiman was his usual sunny self as he looked ahead to his target of bettering the world indoor 1000m record of 2:14.96 run in 2000 by Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer.

“I’m ready,” he said, grinning beneath a large baseball cap. “Now I want to get the world record. I can do it this time.

“After this I am going to the World Indoor Championships in Portland. I am not sure whether I will do the 3000m or the 1500m, but it will probably be the 1500m.”

After the disappointment of last year’s IAAF World Championships, where he had to leave the track on a stretcher after aggravating a calf problem during his 1500m first-round heat, Souleiman has now got himself into ideal shape for the coming season, helped by the varied talents of the training group in which he works under the direction of coach Jama Aden.

“I run over 400 metres, and I also do 5km and 10km at times,” he said. “The team is very strong, and even bigger than last year. I train with Genzebe – we do 400m repetitions together, eight times, 12 times. She is very strong!”

Kim Collins, who turns 40 on 5 April, is hoping his 60m meeting with long-time rival Mike Rodgers of the United States will provide an ideal sharpening exercise as he looks ahead to competing in Portland.

The 2003 world 100m champion from St Kitts and Nevis is already joint third in this year’s 60m world list with 6.53, a hundredth of a second slower than Rodgers and 0.04 off the time posted by Asafa Powell of Jamaica.

But he believes this latest meeting with Rodgers – who has won the first two 60m events staged in the four-meeting IAAF World Indoor Tour, in Karlsruhe and Boston – can be significant.

“It takes a time to get back to form,” he said. “I am hoping that I find it tomorrow night. I do believe I am in 6.4 shape or better, but I haven’t been able to put it together so far this season. I’ve been facing Mike for many years now – I’ve probably seen him more than any other competitor.”

Britain’s Shara Proctor, who took long jump silver at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 with a national record of 7.07m, is in a similar position to Collins in that she is hoping tomorrow night’s competition – where she faces a field including world bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic and home jumpers Erica Jarder and Khaddi Sagnia – will help her bring everything together for her forthcoming season.

“I still don’t have my rhythm back from last year,” she said. “I don’t feel at home on the runway. But once I get that together I’ll jump even further.”

Proctor’s view of the forthcoming meeting was shared by Sagnia. “I know that I can do much better, but things just have to fall in place,” said the 21-year-old who broke through with a seventh placing at last year’s World Championships, recording a personal best of 6.78m. “I need more competitions.”

Meanwhile Brazil’s 2011 world pole vault champion Fabiana Murer is looking forward with high expectations to what will be her last appearance in an arena where she has competed many times in the past – she uses Malmo as her European base – as she looks ahead to the Olympics in her own country, which she plans to be her final competition.

“This is a good meeting to jump high,” said the 34-year-old, who earned world silver last year with a South American record of 4.85m. “I am very excited about the Rio Olympics, but I have a lot of things to do before them. I have to think in the moment, and to do things step by step.

“In 2009 I was thinking I would retire in 2014, but when Rio got the Games I decided to continue my career until 2016 because I want to feel the experience of competing in my home Olympics.”

Sitting alongside Murer, Sweden’s 2015 athlete of the year, 22-year-old Angelica Bengtsson, reflected on the importance of her performance at last year’s World Championships, where she finished fourth with 4.70m.

“That was very important for me,” said the two-time world junior champion. “To come fourth in a senior global championship makes me feel comfortable for all the other competitions this year, for the Olympic Games. It was good for my self-esteem and confidence. It’s nice to feel I can go to any competition and feel I have a right to be there. That I am good enough.”

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF