Ashton Eaton in the heptathlon pole vault at the IAAF World Indoor Championships (© AFP / Getty Images)
Defending heptathlon champion Ashton Eaton ended the first day of competition just one point shy of his day-one score from Istanbul two years ago. But after superb marks in the 60m hurdles and pole vault this morning, he has given himself a great chance of breaking the world record this evening.
In the 60m hurdles, he sped to a 7.64 clocking, the fastest ever within a heptathlon at the World Indoor Championships, and then followed it with a 5.20m clearance in the pole vault, matching his height from Istanbul two years ago.
Andrei Krauchanka maintained his second-place standing after this morning’s events with solid marks of 8.10 in the 60m hurdles and 5.00m in the pole vault while Thomas Van Der Plaetsen has moved into third after clearing 5.20m.
Oleksiy Kasyanov has moved the standings after a disastrous 4.50m in the pole vault, while Eelco Sintnicolaas is currently fourth, having produced the best mark of the day in the pole vault with 5.40m.
Eaton now needs to run 2:33.54 in the 1000m – within one second of his PB – to break the world indoor heptathlon record.
Moscow rematch likely in 60m
When Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won double gold in Moscow last year, Murielle Ahoure finished second to her on both occasions. But indoors, the pair are more evenly matched and they were the fastest in today’s 60m heats.
Fraser-Pryce won her heat in 7.12, but Ahoure saved the best for last as she sped to 7.09, the fastest of the day, in the sixth and final heat.
Germany’s Verena Sailer (7.13), US champion Tianna Bartoletta (7.13) and British champion Asha Philip (7.18) were among the other heat winners.
If this morning’s 60m hurdles heats are anything to go by, the final will be a three-way battle between France, Great Britain and the USA.
World leader Pascal Martinot-Lagarde clocked 7.56 to win the first heat and his time was matched by British champion Andy Pozzi and Garfield Darien in a close fourth heat.
Britain’s other entrant, William Sharman, won his heat with a PB of 7.59, while both US representatives – Omo Osaghae and Dominic Berger – ran 7.61 in their heats to qualify by right.
Olympic champions out of 4x400m final
Little more than 18 months ago, the Bahamian 4x400m squad was stood atop the podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Today, they finished a distant fourth in their heat.
Two of their four runners in Sopot featured on their gold medal-winning team at the Olympics, but their time of 3:09.79 was almost four seconds behind heat winners Great Britain, who led from start to finish to clock 3:06.09 ahead of Russia.
USA, winners of the past four world indoor titles, took the other heat in 3:04.36, comfortably ahead of Jamaica (3:06.12). The other qualifiers came from this heat with Poland and Ukraine advancing to the final.
The four leading nations in the women’s 4x400m – USA, Russia, Jamaica and Great Britain – were the four automatic qualifiers to the final. USA won their heat in a world-leading 3:29.06, thanks to a 51.82 anchor from Cassandra Tate. Behind them, Jamaica set a national indoor record of 3:29.43.
World champion Christine Ohuruogu anchored home Britain, the defending world indoor champions, in the other heat. She did just enough to hold off Russian anchor Natalya Nazarova – out to win a record 10th medal – 3:30.60 to 3:30.87.
Most favourites all through to jumps finals
Three jumping events had qualifying rounds during this morning’s session, and the only surprise was that there weren’t any real surprises.
World leader Ivan Ukhov did the bare minimum required to make it into the high jump final. The Olympic champion’s first-time clearance at 2.25m was enough to make the top eight.
Six athletes cleared 2.28m, led by Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko and Russia’s Daniil Tsyplakov, while Olympic medallists Mutaz Essa Barshim and Erik Kynard also advanced. European champion Robbie Grabarz and 2007 world champion Donald Thomas didn’t make the cut, though.
Russia’s world leader Svetlana Biryukova was a late withdrawal from the long jump. In her absence, world bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic led the qualifying round with 6.77m, one centimetre ahead of Russia’s Darya Klishina.
Similar to the women’s event yesterday, the qualifying round of the men’s triple jump wasn’t of a particularly high standard. Just one man, Marian Oprea, landed past the 17-metre mark with 17.02m, while Cuba’s medal hopes Pedro Pablo Pichardo and Ernesto Reve also progressed with 16.82m and 16.55m respectively.
In the women’s shot put qualifying, Valerie Adams needed just one attempt to book her spot in this evening’s final. She sent her first effort out to a world-leading 20.11m, the second-best mark ever in shot put qualifying at the World Indoor Championships.
As expected, Germany’s Christina Schwanitz was the next best with 19.73m, with Yuliya Leantsiuk and Michelle Carter being the only other athletes to surpass the automatic qualifying distance of 18.70m.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF