Hugues Fabrice Zango sails 17.51m in Lievin (Jean Pierre Durand ) © Copyright
Preview Lievin, France

Global champions take on world record-holders in Lievin

World champions and world record-holders feature heavily on the entry lists for the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais in the northern French city of Lievin on Tuesday (9), the second World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting of 2021.

The women's 3000m features a titanic clash between world 1500m and 10,000m champion Sifan Hassan and Beatrice Chepkoech, the steeplechase world champion and world-record holder. 

The pair have squared off four times thus far - twice at 1500m and twice at 5000m - with Hassan carrying a 3-1 edge. The Dutchwoman hasn't raced indoors since the 2018 World Indoor Championships where she took 3000m silver and 1500m bronze while Chepkoech arrives 11 days after her 3000m victory in Karlsruhe.

Pacemakers have been asked to go through half way in 4:15, which would set up the race for a finishing time in the region of 8:30. If they manage to go a few seconds quicker, they would enter the world indoor all-time top 10. Ethiopians Fantu Worku, who finished a close second to Chepkoech in Karlsruhe, and Lemlem Hailu, who set a world U20 indoor 1500m record in Lievin last year, will attempt to keep up the chase.

The men’s pole vault, featuring five members of the event’s six-metre club, looks set to be one of the main highlights of the meeting.

World record-holder Mondo Duplantis will take on 2012 Olympic champion and former world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie as well as two-time world champion Sam Kendricks, Olympic champion Thiago Braz and world bronze medallist Piotr Lisek. Duplantis has cleared 6.01m and 6.03m in his two competitions this season and Lavillenie has already topped 6.02m, his highest vault since 2016.

Back on the track, Samuel Tefera, who set a world indoor record of 3:31.04 in 2019, will contest his specialist event. The 21-year-old Ethiopian will take on double European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 2017 world bronze medallist Filip Ingebrigtsen, world bronze medallist Marcin Lewandowski and five-time European U23 champion Jimmy Gressier. Tefera and the Ingebrigtsen brothers will be making their 2021 debuts.

The women’s race features world bronze medallist Gudaf Tsegay and world indoor silver medallist Laura Muir. Both will also be racing for the first time indoors this year.

Meanwhile, Selemon Barega returns to action in the men's 3000m just three days after his 3:34.62 1500m career best and world-leading run in Metz. He'll face Ethiopian compatriots and steeplechase standouts Lamecha Girma and Getnet Wale, who finished second and fourth at the 2019 World Championships. A 3:45 pace at halfway, on target for 7:30, has been requested.

Holloway returns to action

World champion Grant Holloway, who opened his 2021 campaign by equalling his own North American indoor record of 7.35, will star in the 60m hurdles. The US sprint hurdler takes on Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega, world indoor bronze medallist Aurel Manga, recent Karlsruhe winner Wilhem Belocian and decathlon world record-holder Kevin Mayer. 

The women’s 60m hurdles features world indoor silver medallist Christina Clemons of the USA, African champion Tobi Amusan, European indoor champion Nadine Visser and two-time European indoor champion Alina Talay. Clemons clocked a world-leading 7.83 in Berlin on Friday while Visser lowered her season's best to 7.90.

With world leader Dina Asher-Smith pulling out with a slight injury, the focus falls on Javianne Oliver of the US, who clocked 7.10 in Metz. She'll face Ajla Del Ponte, who lowered her career best to 7.14 behind Oliver on Saturday.

The men's contest pits Arthur Cisse, who equalled his 6.53 Ivorian record in Berlin on Friday against Devin Quinn of the US, the winner in Metz with a 6.54 lifetime best.

The men’s 800m will bring together world indoor champion Adam Kszczot, recent Karlsruhe winner Elliot Giles, 2017 world champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, world silver medallist Amel Tuka and European indoor champion Alvaro de Arriba.

The women's contest features Ethiopian outdoor record-holder Habitam Alemu, who clocked a 2:00.85 in Metz on Saturday (6), rising star Jemma Reekie, Norwegian record-holder Hedda Hynne and freshly-minted world U20 record-holder Keely Hodgkinson, who clocked 1:59.03 in Vienna the weekend before last. 

Third 2021 outing for Zango

Hugues Fabrice Zango, who broke the world indoor triple jump record 23 days ago with 18.07m, will also be in action. The world bronze medallist has won in Lievin the past two years, so will be gunning for his third consecutive victory. He'll take on Donald Scott, the 2019 US outdoor champion, and veteran Alexis Copello.

The long jump field is headed by Cuba’s world indoor champion Juan Miguel Echevarria, who leaped 8.18m for the win in Karlsruhe. He'll face European indoor and outdoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou, Cuban teenager Lester Lescay, the 2017 world U18 champion, and Thobias Montler, the European indoor silver medallist two years ago.

Holly Bradshaw returns to action in the women's pole vault after her victory in Rouen, France, on Saturday where she topped 4.85m, the second-best clearance of her career. She'll face Slovenian record-holder Tina Sutej, who has topped 4.70m this season, Canadian Alysha Newman and Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi who'll be looking to bounce back from a sub-par 4.43m performance in Rouen.

In the shot put, Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo, who threw a world-leading 19.65m in Karlsruhe, will be the woman to beat. On paper, Germany's Christina Schwanitz is her closest rival at the moment in 2021, with a 19.11m season's best.

The programme also includes a rare look at the women’s 2000m steeplechase, which features Marusa Mismas-Zrimsek of Slovenia, who won this event here last year with an 5:47.79 world best taking, on Winfred Yavi of Bahrain, who finished behind the Slovenian in that 2020 contest.

Jon Mulkeen and Bob Ramsak for World Athletics