The great Indoors
The first of 2015's five IAAF Indoor Permit meets takes place in Karlsruhe this weekend. To get the juices flowing, here's a quick need-to-know on the athletics feats achieved in each host city.
Karlsruhe Weltklasse, January 31
For the first time, this year’s indoor meet will be held at the Karlsruhe Exhibition Centre. Yet the southwest German city has a rich indoor history, with a particularly strong tradition in the 60m hurdles. Liu Xiang (7.42 in 2007) and Márcio de Souza (7.60 in 2004) have both set continental records over the distance.
In 2008, Susanna Kallur was better than anyone – ever – setting a world indoor record in the 60m hurdles with a 7.68. After seven years and several injuries, the Swede returns to Karlsruhe this weekend, where she will race over barriers in public for the first time since 2010.
Following a string of injuries, Kallur has admitted the 2015 season could be her last chance of making a comeback
Moscow Russian Winter, February 1
Established in 1992, the event takes place in the Kuts Arena, named after Russian distance runner Vladimir Kuts.
In the 1993 meet, four years after becoming the first man to clear 6m indoors in the pole vault, Russian Radion Gataullin set the meeting record of 6m. This was quite the achievement: at the time, he and Ukranian Sergey Bubka were the only two to have vaulted higher, and only six other men have cleared a height of 6m or higher indoors since.
This year’s edition will see a stacked field, including 2014 world-leading 800m Botswana runner Nijel Amos, attempting to break to men's 600m world best, which currently stands at 1:15.12. Over the same distance back in 2004, Olga Kotlyarova smashed the female world indoor best by two seconds with 1:23.44, a record that still stands today.
Boston New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, February 7
In 2005, Tirunesh Dibaba set a 5000m indoor world record at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, clocking 14:32.93. Two years later, she knocked more than five and a half seconds of that time in the same venue with 14:27.42, a time that has only since been beaten by Meseret Defar.
Defar herself set a world best time over two miles in Boston with 9:10.50 in 2008. At this year's event, the two-time Olympic champion will return to Boston to run in the 2000m, competing for the first time since giving birth to her daughter last June.
In field events, Jenn Suhr set an American indoor pole vault record in 2012, bettering her own previous best to clear 4.88m (she has since bumped that up again to 5.02m).
Boston 5k record breakers Dibaba and Defar
Stockholm XL Galan, February 19
This year is the 25th anniversary of the indoor event at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, at which a staggering nine world records have been broken in the past. The most recent of those came last year when Genzebe Dibaba’s 8:16.60 in the 3000m saw the second of her 2014 indoor record hat-trick tumble. She will return for this year’s meet, hunting for the 5000m iWR.
Stockholm was also the setting of Haile Gebreselassie’s 12:59.04 world record run in the 5000m in 1997, which made him the first man to dip below the 13-minute mark indoors. That was then bettered by Kenyan Daniel Komen when he ran an iWR 2:30.94 a year later.
The Swedish capital also seems to be a good place for female pole vaulters, with three indoor world records being set there. The first came in 1999 when German Nicole Humbert cleared 4.56m, the second in 2002 courtesy of a 4.72m by Russian Svetlana Feofanova, and lastly in 2012 when Yelena Isinbayeva cleared 5.01m – a vault that remains second on the all-time indoor lists.
Birmingham Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, February 21
Indoor competition will return to the renovated Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, which was formerly known as the NIA. The venue was re-opened with a Michael Buble concert in December, and hosts Slipknot and Korn this month, before the athletes get their chance to sing on the February 21.
The Midlands venue traditionally attracts a strong field. Last year, Genzebe Dibaba broke the 2-mile world best to complete her indoor hat-trick.
Back in the noughties, another Ethiopian was breaking records for fun in Birmingham. Kenenisa Bekele set a trio of indoor world marks in the UK’s second city, starting in 2004 with a 12:49.60 in the 5000m, following it with a 4:49.99 in the 2000m in 2007, and finally in the two miles in 2008 with an 8:04.35.