Eurosport.co.uk previews the men’s events at the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham this weekend.
Great Britain’s Jason Gardener bids for a fourth successive European indoor 60m title and his main threat could come from his training partner Craig Pickering. The 20-year-old European Junior 100m champion had the better of Gardener in the early part of the season but the Bath athlete roared back to form by pipping Pickering at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Birmingham. Aiming to spoil the British party will by Ronald Pognon of France.
Ireland’s David Gillick memorably won the European indoor 400m title two years ago in Madrid and as the European No.1 this year he is strongly tipped to successfully defend. German Bastian Swillims, Swede Johan Wissman and British athlete Robert Tobin will look to wrestle the title from Gillick’s grasp.
Bram Som of Holland won the European outdoor 800m title last summer and his countryman and training partner Arnoud Okken has looked in good shape this winter to take the European indoor 800m crown. France’s Florent Lacasse, Latvia’s Dmitrijs Milkevics and Eugenio Barrios of Spain also look a threat.
The Spanish will be the nation to beat in the 1500. Juan Carlos Higuero heads the entrants and former European under-23 1500m champion Arturo Casado and Sergio Gallardo, the fastest man in Europe this year, complete the Spanish challenge.
Ireland’s Alistair Cragg defends his 3000m title but faces stern opposition from European 5000m champion Jesus Espana of Spain, Britain’s European cross country champion Mo Farah and European No.1 Bob Tahri of France.
Latvia’s European 110m hurdles champion Stanislav Olijar is the big name in action in 60m hurdles. Watch out also for Great Britain’s Andy Turner, the European 110m hurdles bronze medallist, and Ukrainian Serhiy Demydyuk, the fastest man in Europe.
The men’s 4x400m will be hard to call but expect Great Britain, Germany, Russia and Poland to figure prominently.
Sweden will meet Russia in a fascinating high jump showdown. European No.1 Ivan Ukhov has jumped 2.39m this winter and Russia’s European Junior champion is a star for the future. But Olympic gold medallist Stefan Holm is always to be respected and his 2.38m leap to win the Swedish Championships on count-back against Linus Thornblad suggests the men from Scandinavia will provide determined opposition.
German Bjorn Otto heads the pole vault rankings with a best of 5.90m and his countryman Fabian Schulze and Danny Ecker are also prominent. Russia’s defending champion Igor Pavlov will be hoping to upset the Germans.
European long jump champion Andrew Howe (Italy) will take all the beating in the men’s long jump, although Louis Tsatoumas of Greece, the European No.1, will be keen to mount a victory bid of his own.
Following the late withdrawal of Sweden’s European and Olympic champion Christian Olsson, the triple jump is wide open. European silver medallist Nathan Douglas (GBR) and Portugal’s talented Nelson Evora will be looking to capitalise on his absence.
Defending champion Joachim Olsen is the only European beyond 21 metres this year and he will be the man to beat in the shot. Former world champion Andrey Mikhnevich of Belarus is entered but looks short of his best this season.
Roman Sebrle, the greatest multi-event athlete of his generation, seeks a hat-trick of European indoor titles. The Czech great, the reigning European and Olympic decathlon champion, has proved just as adept over the seven-event discipline and starts a strong favourite.
The 2005 European silver medallist Aleksandr Pogorelov of Russia heads the European rankings while his countryman Aleksey Drozdov, the European decathlon bronze medallist, is another name to watch out for.
Eurosport - Steven Landells - 27/02/2007 14:14
A new sprint star could emerge is the shape of 19-year-old Bulgarian Terdzhan Naimova. The world junior 100m and 200m champion heads the rankings with a best of 7.13m with her main opposition likely to come from the experienced defending European Indoor 60m champion Kim Geveart of Belgium.
Thanou, the former Olympic 100m silver medallist, returns to major international competition (edit). Watch out also for former Jamaican legend of the track Merlene Ottey, who now aged 46 runs for Slovenia.
Great Britain’s Nicola Sanders heads the European rankings by almost a second in the 400m and the former hurdler will start a strong favourite. The Russian challenge is headed by European silver medallist Tatyana Veshkurova but although 2002 European champion Olesya Zykina and 2002 European Indoor champion Natalya Antyukh are entered the Russian pair appear well down on their best this season.
Eastern Europe is expected to dominate in the 800m with Ukranian Tetyana Petlyuk, who finished fourth at last summer’s European Championships, leading the rankings. Her main opponent could be the 2002 European Indoor champion Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia.
Poland’s Lidia Chojecka is the quickest in Europe over 1500m but although entered for the metric mile she may prefer to defend her 3000m title. Great Britain’s experienced Helen Clitheroe and Sonja Roman of Slovenia are two other athletes to impress over 1500m this season.
Commonwealth 5000m silver medallist Jo Pavey of Great Britain is the quickest this year over 3000m but Chojecka should she decide to race in the longer distance and Marta Dominguez of Spain the European 5000m champion will provide top quality opposition.
Sweden’s Susanna Kallur, will start a hot favourite to defend her 60m hurdles title, with Russia’s Aleksandra Antonova her main threat. Russia will be the team to beat in the women’s 4x400m.
The women’s high jump promises to be the most explosive event on the programme in Birmingham despite the withdrawal of Olympic champion Kasja Bergqvist of Sweden. Veteran Bulgarian jumper Venelina Veneva heads the rankings with 2.01m but watch out also for two-time world junior champion Blanka Vlasic (pictured) of Croatia and Spain’s European Indoor silver medallist Ruth Beitia. Italy’s Antonietta Di Martino has cleared 2.00m for the first time this winter. Belgium’s European champion Tia Hellebaut will also compete after withdrawing from the heptathlon.
In the absence of world record-holder and defending champion Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, her compatriot Svetlana Feofanova will start favourite to win her second European indoor title in the pole vault. Poland’s European silver medallist Anna Rogowska of Poland is also entered.
Defending long jump champion Naide Gomes will take all the beating in the long jump and former hurdler Olesya Bufalova heads the rankings in the triple jump
Veteran Irina Khudoroshkina, the 1996 Olympic bronze medallist, is joint-top of the shot put rakings with Italy’s Assunta Legnante, the 2002 European indoor silver medallist likely to be her main rival.
A mouthwatering pentathlon field is headed by Olympic, world and European heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft of Sweden. The British challenge is headed by Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton and is supported by emerging Commonwealth bronze medallist Jessica Ennis. Holland’s European heptathlon silver medallist Karin Ruckstuhl and Olympic heptathlon silver medallist Austra Skujyte of Lithuania also start.
Eurosport - Steve Landells - 28/02/2007 12:42