Top sprinters ready to dazzle at Aspire Dome
By Suman Malla/Doha
All eyes will be trained at the outstanding setting of the Aspire Dome in Doha which will host the 13th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics.
With no world championships this year, the three-day competition which commences today will be the most important athletics event of the calender, with a number of star athletes, including defending champions from the last meet in Valencia 2008 vying for top honours.
With American Terrence Trammell, China’s Liu Xiang and Cuban Dayron Robles running together for the first time since 2005, the men’s 60m hurdles will be the feature event of the show.
Trammell ran the season’s best 7.41sec to win the US Indoors title but Robles was not far behind as he clocked 7.44sec at the Birmingham Grand Prix. And the return of Liu to a global competition only adds more excitement to the championships.
Liu may have set a modest 8.05sec in his only appearance this season, in Shanghai, but his rivals know too well they can take the defending champion lightly only at their own peril.
“I know he’s better than that and I expect him to run fast. He was the dominant hurdler for quite some time,” said Trammell on the eve of the championships.
However, the 2006 world indoor gold medallist Trammell feels he stands a chance to finish on the top of the podium. “It’ll be tough but I’m definitely excited,” the 31-year-old said. “I think I’m in pretty good shape right now. Training’s been going really well and everything’s been coming together.”
The absence of American sprinter Ivory Williams may have taken some shine off the men’s 60m show. Williams, who tested positive for marijuana, was replaced by Trell Kimmons.
But Williams’ team-mate Michael Rodgers, who finished only with 6.52sec – three-hundredth of a sec behind him – to finish second at the last month’s US Indoors trials is expected take the challenge to Britain’s Dwain Chambers, who recorded the world’s second best time this season at 6.50sec.
The 31-year-old British sprinter shared the silver medal at the last world indoor meet in Valencia. He will be hoping to reproduce the form which took him to a stunning European record of 6.42 last year.
Qatar’s Samuel Francis, fresh from his win at the Asian indoor championships hopes to finish on the podium. “I’ve been training really hard and I’m expecting great things,” said Francis, who hold the Asian record of 6.54sec over the distance. But he understands he has to do a lot better than that.
“I think it will need less than 6.50sec to win the gold medal,” he said. “But anything can happen in 60m. Everybody will be tense, especially with the one false start rule.”
The men’s 3000m race is expected to be another of the highlights with six of the runners in the field already running under the 7:35-barrier this year.
Leading the field will be Kenya’s Augustine Choge, who has clocked his personal best showing of 7:31.75 this season. But the 22-year-old Commonwealth Games 5000m champion was only marginally quicker.
James Kwalia remains Qatar’s best hope for landing a local athlete on the medals podium. Despite coming off a modest 7:57.73 at his only race at the Asian Indoor meet in Tehran, the bronze medallist in the 5000m in Berlin last summer is hopeful of landing a medal in the 3000m race here.
With a couple of wins this year, Kenya’s Sammy Mutahi would be looking for a medal. And defending champion Tariku Bekele from Ethiopia looks to have regained his form after clocking PB of 7:31.78 last month. His compatriot Abreham Cherkos, who won a bronze medal in Valencia, will also be looking to add another medal. Once an African domain, the Europeans have come into the picture. Spanish long-distance runners Sergio Sanchez and Bouabdellah Tahri have been making their marks this season.
Sanchez clocked his personal best of 7:32.41 in 3000m, while Tahri, who took a bronze medal in the steeplechase at the Berlin championships, lowered the European indoor 5000m record to 13:11.13.
American duo Bernard Lagat, who won this title in 2004 for Kenya, and Galen Rupp are expected to mount a strong challenge for medal in the event. American shot-putter Christian Cantwell will be aiming at a record third world indoor title. In his current form – with the world leading distance of 21.95m – the 2004 and 2008 winner is quite a distance away from his possible challengers.
Date Time Sex Event Round
12/03 09:00 W 400 Metres Heats
12/03 09:00 W Triple Jump Qualification
12/03 09:15 M Pole Vault Qualification
12/03 09:20 M Shot Put Qualification
12/03 09:30 W High Jump Qualification
12/03 09:35 M 400 Metres Heats
12/03 10:15 M 60 Metres Heptathlon
12/03 10:30 W 800 Metres Heats
12/03 10:30 M Shot Put Qualification
12/03 10:50 M Long Jump Heptathlon
12/03 11:00 M 800 Metres Heats
Date Time Sex Event Round
12/03 14:00 W 3000 Metres Heats
12/03 14:20 M Triple Jump Qualification
12/03 14:30 M High Jump Qualification
12/03 14:35 W 60 MetresHurdles Heats
12/03 15:00 M 60 Metres Heats
12/03 15:45 M 1500 Metres Heats
12/03 16:20 W Pole Vault Qualification
12/03 16:30 W 1500 Metres Heats
12/03 16:35 M Shot Put Heptathlon
12/03 16:45 M Long Jump Qualification
12/03 17:10 M 3000 Metres Heats
12/03 17:30 M High Jump Heptathlon
12/03 17:50 M 60 MetresHurdles Heats
12/03 18:10 M Long Jump Qualification
12/03 18:25 W 60 Metres Heats
12/03 19:05 W 400 Metres Semi-Final
12/03 19:25 M 400 Metres Semi-Final