ISTAF INDOOR meet in Berlin
Three Olympic champions and one World champion are the stars at the ISTAF INDOOR which will take place in the Mercedes Benz Arena before a packed house of 12,500 spectators on Friday evening. In the venue which can hold the biggest crowd in the world for an athletics meeting, Germany’s World long jump champion Malaika Mihambo, the Olympic pole vault gold medallists in 2012 and 2016, Renaud Lavillenie of France and his Brazilian rival Thiago Braz as well as local hero Christoph Harting, the 2016 Olympic discus champion, should provide plenty to entertain Berlin’s track and field fans.
“Four months after the World Championships we are now entering the Olympic year. It’s a big thrill for us that the arena is sold out and our concept of combining elite sport with showbiz elements is proving so successful. The fans will experience a great evening of athletics with fantastic athletes,” said the meeting director Martin Seeber.
Malaika Mihambo is likely to produce one of the highlights of the seventh edition of ISTAF INDOOR. The World Championship gold medallist in Doha last October won here in Berlin a year ago and set the current meeting record of 6.99m. After consistently jumping over seven metres during the summer, followed by improving to 7.30m with her World Championship triumph, Mihambo recently began her season with 6.83m in Karlsruhe.
Will the 26-year-old leap to seven metres on her return to Berlin and the ISTAF INDOOR, breaking her own meeting record? “That’s my goal,” said Malaika Mihambo. “Seven has definitely got to be a priority also for indoors. Being so close to the spectators makes ISTAF INDOOR unique for athletes and fans alike.”
Germany’s Sportswoman of the Year will be jumping against strong competition: Nigeria’s Ese Brume has cleared seven metres and won a World Championship bronze medal last year. Her best is 7.05m. Also in the strong line-up is the Belarusian Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova who won silver at last year’s European Indoor Championships and has a best of 7.08m. That was one occasion when Malaika Mihambo failed to finish among the medals, taking fourth place.
The women who won last year’s 60m and 60m hurdles have also returned to ISTAF INDOOR: Kristal Awuah of Britain achieved a surprise win 12 months ago, improving by a big margin to run 7.19 for victory in the 60m. She then improved to 7.15 in finishing fourth at the European Indoor Championships. On Friday Awuah will again meet the rival she beat into second place last year: Klara Seidlova of the Czech Republic who ran 7.27 at the 2019 ISTAF INDOOR. Also expected to be contenders are Dutee Chand of India and the German duo of Lisa Marie Kwayie and Lisa Mayer.
Pamela Dutkiewicz will line up as the defending champion in the 60m hurdles. The German star will have among her rivals Nadine Visser of the Netherlands, the reigning European Indoor champion, and Tobi Amusan of Nigeria, fourth in last year’s World Championships as well as her fellow German Cindy Roleder.
The men’s pole vault is packed with talent despite the withdrawal of Piotr Lisek who has had to end his season because of injury. The winners from the last two Olympic Games, Renaud Lavillenie (2012) and Thiago Braz (2016), face competition which includes Konstadinos Filippidis of Greece, the 2014 World Indoor champion and second in the 2017 European Indoors as well as two of Germany’s leading vaulters in the national champion Torben Blech and Bo Kanda Lita Baehre, fourth in the World Championships. There will be more than one Lavillenie to contend with since Valentin, younger brother of the former world indoor record holder, will also compete.
The men’s 60m marks a landmark achievement for Britain’s James Dasaolu. The 2014 European 100m champion has had a long road back from tearing his achilles tendon to compete once again. Alongside him in the starting blocks will be the German sprinters Michael Pohl, Joshua Hartmann and Aleksandar Askovic. In the 60m hurdles the names to watch are Gregor Traber of Germany, Aurel Manga of France and Italy’s Hassen Fofana.
Discus Duel: Men versus Women
The grand finale of the evening will be the discus duel of “Women versus Men.” In a thrilling inaugural world performance in 2019, Nadine Müller led the women to a narrow victory. The German threw the discus further than any woman previously indoors with 63.89m. “That was an absolute top highlight for me, a fantastic showdown. I am thrilled at the thought of the second edition of the discus duel,” said Müller. She will be throwing in a team alongside Shanice Craft, Claudine Vita and the current German champion Kristin Pudenz. The men’s team to be stepping into the discus circle comprises the Olympic champion and local star Christoph Harting, the reigning German champion Martin Wierig, David Wrobel and Romania’s Alexandru Firfirică who finished fourth at the World Championships.
Information, results and quotes can be found at www.istaf-indoor.de