Poland's Kamila Licwinko in action in the high jump (© Getty Images)
The traditional Russian Winter indoor meeting on Sunday (1), the second of this season's IAAF Indoor Permit meetings, features a memorable women’s high jump which brings together again the joint world indoor champions, Poland’s Kamila Licwinko and home star Mariya Kuchina.
Licwinko equalled her national indoor record when she cleared a world-leading 2.00m in Cottbus earlier this week while Kuchina has already cleared 1.96m, in Volgograd last Saturday.
“I feel I am in good shape but need more competitions to improve my technique,” said Kuchina, who also won the Diamond Race and at the IAAF Continental Cup.
“I am very motivated now because Svetlana Shkolina (2013 world champion) and Anna Chicherova (2012 Olympic champion) are coming back, and it's going to be very interesting in this event this summer,” she added.
The Russian Winter meeting record of 2.00m was set by Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic back in 2006 and is clearly under threat on Sunday.
The men's high jump features two athletes from the ‘2.40m club’: home star Aleksey Dmitrik and Ukraine’s European silver medal Andrey Protsenko.
Also in the field are Russia’s 2010 European champion Alexander Shustov, coming back from injury, and Greece’s Kostandinos Baniotis.
Maslak and Hejnova make comeback in Moscow
With the European Indoor Championshis in Prague just five weeks away, several top Czech athletes are coming to Moscow to hone their shape for what will be a home championship.
Two specialists of the 400m hurdles, 2013 world champion Zuzanna Hejnova and her compatriot Denisa Rosolova, run over 400m without the barriers, as does world indoor 400m champion Pavel Maslak.
Both Hejnova and Maslak hardly competed last summer due to injuries.
“I prefer the hurdles but the 400m flat seems refreshing, just for change,” said Hejnova. “I do enjoy this distance, though my problem is that I am not that fast at the start, but I still hope for good run in Moscow.”
Cuba’s 2008 Olympic 110m hurdles champion Dayron Robles, Czech Republic’s Petr Svoboda and Russia’s Konstantin Shabanov are part of a good men’s 60m hurdles field, one of the strongest events of the meeting.
Another classy field is in the men's long jump, starring Greece’s European silver medalist Louis Tsatoumas. French record-holder Salim Sdiri is also out to do better than last year's meeting in Moscow, where he finished fourth.
Russia is represented by the current national indoor champion Pavel Shalin.
Yekaterina Koneva goes in the women’s long jump. She recently posted a world-leading 14.68m in the triple jump, but she is aiming to improve her long jump best of 6.56 m from last season
However, she has already announced that she is going to compete in the triple jump at the European Indoor Championships, and has said that she dreams in the summer of finally breaking into the 15-metre territory.
Osagie and Greene aiming for 600m meeting record
The men’s 60m features St Kitts’ seemingly ageless Kim Collins, who ran a world-leading 6.52 in Dusseldorf on Thursday, as well as US sprinter Mike Rodgers, who finished third in that race in a seasons best of 6.58.
Rodgers has fond memories from Moscow after his silver medal in the 4x100m relay from the 2013 IAAF World Championships.
The men’s 600m will be a high point of the meeting as well.
There will be an official farewell ceremony for 2004 Olympic 800m champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy, who has called an end to his brilliant international career.
Borzakovskiy won over 600m at the Russian Winter meeting five years ago and this time is hoping to see a meeting record from one of the two British runners in the Russian capital: world indoor 800m bronze medallist Andrew Osagie and former 400m hurdles world champion Dai Greene.
However, despite the talent of the two Britons and the fact that the distance is not too often run, such a feat is still a tall order.
In 2012, Poland’s Adam Kszczot ran 1:15.26 at the Russian Winter meeting, the second fastest time ever and just shy of the world best of 1:15.12 which has stood since 1999 to Germany’s Nico Motchebon.
Musaeb Balla from Qatar, third at the Russian Winter last year, could also push the British duo for first place
There is a new competition format at the Russian Winter this year to make the event fast-paced and exciting for spectators: two 45-minute sessions with a 15-minute interval, exactly mirroring a football match.
Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF