Previews08 Feb 2024

Girma goes after 2000m mark in Lievin


Lamecha Girma breaks the world indoor 3000m record in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)

One year on from his stunning world indoor 3000m record at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais Trophée EDF, Lamecha Girma returns to the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Lievin to take on the rarely run 2000m on Saturday (8).

Last year in Lievin, Girma stopped the clock at 7:23.81 to break the long-standing world indoor 3000m record. Outdoors, he went on to break the world steeplechase record and the Ethiopian 1500m record (3:29.51) – so he’s clearly no slouch when it comes to shorter distances.

He opened his season with victory over that same distance at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Boston last weekend, setting a meeting record of 7:29.09. His 2000m split from that race (4:58.44) was almost identical to the one he recorded when setting the world indoor 3000m record (4:58.38).

But in Saturday’s standalone 2000m race, the mark he’ll be aiming at is Kenenisa Bekele’s world indoor best of 4:49.99. Rising Ethiopians Adisu Girma and Melese Nberet will join him on the start line, as well as World University Games 1500m champion Benoit Campion and Olympic 1500m finalist Charles Grethen.

Many of Girma’s esteemed compatriots will be in action across the other middle-distance events on Saturday.

Two-time world champion Gudaf Tsegay headlines a stunning 3000m field that also includes world indoor champion Lemlem Hailu, Hirut Meshesha, recent winner in Metz, 2021 world U20 5000m champion Mizan Alem, and steeplechase world record-holder Beatrice Chepkoech, who recently set a Kenyan indoor 1500m record.

Gudaf Tsegay competes at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Lievin

Gudaf Tsegay competes at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)

The men’s 3000m field is just as loaded. Olympic 10,000m champion Selemon Barega, who ran a world-leading 7:25.82 in Torun earlier this week, will take on world 5km champion Hagos Gebrhiwet, two-time world indoor 1500m champion Samuel Tefera, Getnet Wale, and Biniam Mehary, who set a world U20 indoor 1500m record in Torun.

The women’s 1500m brings together the top two finishes from Torun – Freweyni Hailu and Diribe Welteji, both of whom cracked 3:56 there – was well as the 800m winner from that meeting, Habitam Alemu, and rising Ethiopian Birke Haylom.

In the men’s event, world bronze medallist Narve Gilje Nordas of Norway gets his 2024 campaign under way against a field that includes Spain’s Adel Mechaal, Ethiopia’s Taddese Lemi, Kenya’s Vincent Keter and France’s Azzedine Habz.

Moon aims for the stars

World and Olympic champion Katie Moon returns to Lievin for the fourth time, seeking a third victory. She won last year in 4.83m, which also happens to be the current world-leading mark, held by Molly Caudery, who is also in the line-up in Lievin.

The high-quality field also includes European champion Wilma Murto, world indoor bronze medallist Tina Sutej, 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney, 2018 Commonwealth champion Alysha Newman, 2021 European indoor champion Angelica Moser, and French duo Margo Chevrier and Ninon Chapelle.

Katie Moon celebrates her world-leading pole vault performance in Lievin

Katie Moon celebrates her world-leading pole vault performance in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)

World champion Hugues Fabrice Zango headlines the men’s triple jump field. The world indoor record-holder takes on world leader Andy Diaz and world indoor champion Lazaro Martinez.

Elsewhere in the field, two-time world champion Sam Kendricks faces Sondre Guttormsen, Kurtis Marschall, Piotr Lisek and Thibaut Collet in the pole vault. Meanwhile in the shot put, two-time world indoor champion Tom Walsh takes on world silver medallist Leonard Fabbri, fellow Italian Zane Weir and European champion Filip Mihaljevic.

Bol and Holloway return

World 400m hurdles champion Femke Bol opened her season in stunning style last weekend, clocking 49.69 over 400m and setting a Dutch indoor 200m record of 22.64 just an hour later.

This Saturday she’ll have just one race to contend, over her preferred distance of 400m. She won in Lievin last year in a meeting record of 50.20, so she’ll have the 50-second barrier in her sights this time.

She’ll be up against training partner Lieke Klaver, Britain’s Laviai Nielsen and France’s Amandine Brossier.

Three-time world sprint hurdles champion Grant Holloway also has fond memories of Lievin, having won here for the past three years. Now in his 10th year of his unbeaten streak in the 60m hurdles, world indoor record-holder Holloway will be lining up against Polish record-holder Jakub Szymanski, Italian record-holder Lorenzo Ndele Simonelli, 2018 European champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and European bronze medallist Just Kwao-Mathey.

Grant Holloway wins the 60m hurdles in Lievin

Grant Holloway wins the 60m hurdles in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)

Another world record-holder, Tobi Amusan, will start as favourite in the women’s 60m hurdles. The Nigerian has already set African records of 7.77 and 7.75 this year, but she’ll be pushed all the way by Nadine Visser of the Netherlands and Pia Skryzowska of Poland.

World silver medallist Erriyon Knighton, who turned 20 just two weeks ago, will be making his indoor debut in the 200m. He’ll take on world U20 champion Blessing Akwasi Afrifah and France’s Ryan Zeze, who recently set an indoor PB of 20.51.

In the women’s 800m, 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi takes on Jemma Reekie and Noelie Yarigo, while in the men’s event the in-form Tshepiso Masalela of Botswana goes up against last year’s Lievin winner, Benjamin Robert, world indoor champion Mariano Garcia, Belgium’s Eliott Crestan and Spain’s Adrian Ben.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics