2008 World Indoor Champs Preview: Women

The 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships take place in Valencia, Spain at the week-end, and there are a number of excellent matchups track fans around the globe are eagerly awaiting.

There have been no shortage of excellent marks this winter season, with Russians Yelena Soboleva (1.500m) and Yelena Isinbayeva (Pole Vault) setting individual world-records in their disciplines.

Athletics in the News names a few of the events and athletes among the hundreds competing whom fans should keep their eyes on as the championships unfold.


Pole Vault:

Yelena Isinbayeva seeks third career World Indoor Pole Vault title after bettering her own World indoor record with 4.95m in Donetsk.

Isinbayeva did surrender her 23-competition unbeaten streak to Svetlana Feofanova in Bydgoszcz, however, with her teammate primed to stake claim to the title she last won in 2003 to go along with the two bronze and one silver medal she has won indoors.

The best of the rest would appear to be US champion Jennifer Stuczynski who has cleared 4.71m while the 2003 World Indoor bronze medallist, Monika Pyrek of Poland, has a successful 4.67m clearance next to her name this indoor season and is another with medal ambitions.

2006 World Indoor Champion: Yelena Isinbayeva, RUS, 4.80m
WR 4.95m * Yelena Isinbaeva (RUS) - Donetsk, 16/02/2008

World Indoor Leaders in the Pole Vault 2008:

4.95m Yelena Isinbaeva RUS
4.75m Yuliya Golubchikova RUS
4.71m Jennifer Stuczynski USA
4.71m Svetlana Feofanova RUS
4.70m Jennifer Stuczynski USA
4.67m Monika Pyrek POL

60m Dash:

American Angela Williams hopes to finally land her first elusive 60m title after winning silver medals at the 2001 and 2003 World Indoor Championships. The 28-year-old won her national title in Boston in 7,11, and appears to have the gold medal within her grasp.

Williams will face strong opposition from the joint-leaders on the World Lists, however, with Nigeria’s Ene Franca Idoko and Russia’s Yevgeniya Polyakova both having run 7,09 seconds.

2006 World Indoor Champion: Me'Lisa Barber, USA, 7,01
WR 6,92 Irina Privalova (RUS) - Madrid, 11/02/1993
WR 6,92 Irina Privalova (RUS) - Madrid, 09/02/1995

World Leaders at 60 Metres 2008:

7,09 Yevgeniya Polyakova RUS
7,09 Ene Franca Idoko NGR
7,11 Angela Williams USA
7,13 Kelly-Ann Baptiste TRI
7,15 Kim Gevaert BEL
7,15 Kelly-Ann Baptiste TRI

1.500m Run:

Russian Yelena Soboleva, the 2006 World Indoor silver medallist, appears ready to supplant gold medallist Yuliya Fomenko after lowering her own World record with 3.58,05 to win her national championships.

Fomenko won't roll over and play dead against her teammate, however, as she did run a personal best 4.00,21 at the National Championships behind Soboleva, and has the experience to defend against Soboleva, whom she defeated by a half-second two years ago when the event was staged in Moscow.

Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, the 2007 World Outdoor Champion, will be a contender as well, though she has only one race under her belt this indoor season.

2006 World Indoor Champion: Yuliya Chizhenko, RUS, 4.04,70
WR 3.58,05 * Yelena Soboleva (RUS) - Moskva, 10/02/2008

World Indoor Leaders at 1.500 Metres 2008:

3.58,05 Yelena Soboleva RUS
4.00,21 Yuliya Fomenko RUS
4.03,33 Liliana Popescu ROU
4.03,68 Yekaterina Martynova RUS
4.04,30 Maryam Yusuf Jamal BRN

3.000m Run

Meseret Defar aims to secure a hat-trick of World Indoor 3000m titles and join Romania's Gabby Szabo as the only female athletes to accomplish this feat.

The Ethiopian, courting a 15-meet win streak at this distance, has clocked 8.27,93 to lead the world this season, and has also smashed the two-mile world best with a super 9.10,50 run in Boston.

Defar set the current world indoor record last year at the Sparkassen invitational in Stuttgart, running 8.23,72, and also owns the world-record in the 5.000m outdoors, clocking 14.16,63 at the Bislett Golden League in Oslo, Norway last season.

Defar’s countrywoman, Meselech Melkamu, should be her main rival along with New Zealander Kim Smith, who, earlier this winter, set new national records in the mile and two-mile.

Melkamu was right up on Defar's shoulders in the world-record run last winter, running 8.23,74 - two one-hundredths of a second from winning and establishing her own world-record.

2006 World Indoor Champion: Meseret Defar, ETH, 8.38,80
WR 8.23,72 Meseret Defar (ETH) - Stuttgart, 03/02/2007

World Indoor Leaders at 3000 Metres 2008:

8.27,93 Meseret Defar ETH
8.29,48 Meselech Melkamu ETH
8.31,94 Gelete Burika ETH16/02/2008
8.33,37 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH
8.35,86 Mariem Alaoui Selsouli MAR

60m Hurdles:

Every 60m hurdles athlete competing against Susanna Kallur have seen nothing but her back as she has one nine 60m hurdles races this season, and now holds the five-fastest times in the world this year to go along with her 7,68 world record run in Karlsruhe last month.

Kallur's main rival is likely to be US champion LoLo Jones who ran a new personal best of 7,77 for second in Karlsruhe behind Kallur.

Kallur, who is a twin sister and daughter of legendary New York Ranger Anders Kallur - a four-time Stanley Cup winner, was meant to contest her national indoor championships two weeks ago, but pulled out to rest and recuperate following a slate of all-time performance races. Kallur placed third in the 2006 World Indoor Championships contested in Moscow.

2006 World Indoor Champion: Derval O'Rourke, IRE, 7,84
WR 7,68 * Sanna Kallur (SWE) - Karlsruhe, 10/02/2008

World Indoor Leaders at 60 Metres Hurdles 2008:

7,68 Susanna Kallur SWE
7,77 LoLo Jones USA
7,85 Damu Cherry USA
7,89 Yauhenia Valadzko BLR
7,90 Anay Tejeda CUB

High Jump:

Blanka Vlasic, the 2007 World Championships gold medallist, is unbeaten in six competitions this winter - and has a 21-straight indoors/outdoors winning streak.

Vlasic set a new national record of 2.05m in Weinheim last Tuesday, and has her sites set on denying Russia's Yelena Slesarenko a third indoor title.

Slesarenko defeated Vlasic by 2cm in Moscow two years ago, and is also undefeated this season. Vlasic's last loss in a high jump competition was to Slesarenko at the 2007 Olso Golden League meeting in June.

Another threat in the competition will be Germany's Ariane Friedrich, who has jumped over 2.00m three times this winter - including a new lifetime best of 2.02m behind Vlasic in Weinheim.

2006 World Indoor Champion: Yelena Slesarenko, RUS, 2.02m
WR 2.08m Kajsa Bergqvist (SWE) - Arnstadt, 04/02/2006

World Indoor Leaders in the High Jump 2008:

2.05m Blanka Vlašic CRO
2.02m Yelena Slesarenko RUS
2.02m Ariane Friedrich GER
2.00m Yekaterina Savchenko RUS
1.99m Vita Palamar UKR

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