Previews05 Feb 2024

Sprint showdowns and distance duels at every turn in Torun


Ewa Swoboda in World Athletics Indoor Tour action (© Copernicus Cup)

The Orlen Copernicus Cup celebrates its 10th anniversary on Tuesday (6) with a gathering of established international stars and home-grown Polish talent.

The latest World Indoor Tour Gold meeting at Arena Torun promises to be a raucous occasion as global medallists descend on the venue that will host the 2026 World Athletics Indoor Championships.

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The men’s 3000m is being billed as a world record attempt by meeting organisers, with all eyes on a trio of Ethiopians with proven pedigree. Olympic 10,000m and world indoor 3000m champion Selemon Barega will be looking to re-assert his status in Olympic year with victory and a quick time.

But, in compatriot Getnet Wale, Barega faces the fourth fastest indoor performer of all time, his best being 7:24.98 set three years ago in Lievin. Wale was fourth in the steeplechase at the Tokyo Olympic Games and at the World Championships in Oregon a year later.

Diriba Girma, younger brother of world indoor record-holder Lamecha Girma, is also in the line-up in Torun. He is no slouch either, having finished fourth over 3000m at the 2022 World Athletics U20 Championships in Cali.

The women’s 60m entries are headed by crowd favourite Ewa Swoboda. The 2019 European indoor champion will be seeking to build on her world-leading 7.04 run in Lodz last month and her 7.07 win in Ostrava with a victory in front of her home fans.

Luxembourg’s Patrizia van der Weken is one of the breakthrough sprinters of this indoor season, having lowered her own national record to a world-class 7.09. She will form the chief opposition to Swoboda.

In the men’s 60m, European indoor bronze medallist Henrik Larsson of Sweden and European 100m bronze medallist Jeremiah Azu are the likely contenders. Denmark’s Simon Hansen is also one to watch, having improved to 6.58 in Arhus last month.

The women’s 60m hurdles is also set to be one of the highlights. European champion Pia Skrzyszowska is sure to have a partisan home support on her side, but she faces a tough test in the form of two-time European indoor champion Nadine Visser of the Netherlands, fresh off a scorching 7.80 run in Metz on Saturday.

Plus, reigning European indoor champion Reetta Hurske of Finland makes her first competitive appearance of the season in what is sure to be a tight battle.

In the men’s sprint hurdles, Poland’s Jakub Szymański will be looking to continue his scintillating early season form by building on his national indoor record of 7.47 set in Dusseldorf on Sunday (4).  2019 European indoor champion Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus is sure to provide him with a stern test.

Two-time world finalist Lieke Klaver heads the line-up in the women’s 400m. The Dutch sprinter, a training partner of world 400m hurdles champion Femke Bol, has started her season with victories in Ostrava (50.54) and Metz (51.33). 

Sentimental hopes will rest with Poland’s 2018 European champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic, who has recently returned from illness.

The women’s 1500m is loaded with middle distance talent, headed by Ethiopia’s world road mile champion Diribe Welteji. She will be joined by fellow Ethiopian Hirut Meshesha, the world indoor bronze medallist. World indoor 800m silver medallist Freweyni Hailu and 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi are also likely to contend.

In the men’s 1500m, Portugal’s Isaac Nader was an impressive recent winner in Ostrava in a world-leading 3:34.23, but he faces a huge challenge against two-time world indoor champion Samuel Tefera in his first race over the distance this year.

In the men’s 800m, Botswana’s African bronze medallist Tshepiso Masalela comes into the race in excellent form, having won in both Ostrava and Metz, the latter in a national indoor record of 1:45.56. But he faces a tough domestic challenge from Olympic bronze medallist Patryk Dobek and 2021 European indoor silver medallist Mateusz Borkowski.

In the women’s event, Benin’s Noelie Yarigo returns to a competition where last year she broke the national record with 1:58.48. 

In the field, Poland’s three-time world medallist Piotr Lisek will bring his customary effervescent presence to the men’s pole vault. He will face a rematch with European indoor champion Sondre Guttormsen of Norway and Emmanouil Karalis of Greece, with whom he shared silver at last year’s European Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

And in the triple jump, prolific Diamond League winner Andy Díaz Hernández will start as the favourite.

Chris Broadbent for World Athletics

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