Previews21 Feb 2024

World record-holder Charlton ready to make a mark in Madrid


Devynne Charlton in action in Boston (© Dan Vernon)

Just two weeks after breaking the world 60m hurdles record, Devynne Charlton heads to the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold Final in Madrid on Friday (23) for her last competitive outing before competing at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24.

The world indoor silver medallist has improved with almost every competition this year, starting with a 7.88 run in Kentucky and then a 7.75 national record in Texas. She almost matched that at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Boston, running 7.76 to finish third in a highly competitive race, but she returned to winning ways at the Millrose Games two weeks ago, where she ran 7.67 to break a world record that had stood since 2008.

The line-up may be without USA’s Tia Jones, who won in Boston and then equalled the Bahamian sprint hurdler’s world record to win at the US Indoor Championships last week, but Charlton knows she can’t rest on her laurels in the Spanish city.

She currently sits second in the World Indoor Tour standings; a victory in Madrid will give Charlton the overall series title, as well as a US$10,000 bonus. The presence of Nadine Visser, Pia Skrzyszowska and Reetta Hurske – all winners of continental titles in recent years – will ensure Charlton is kept on her toes.

Madrid has previously played host to a world record in the 60m hurdles with Grant Holloway clocking 7.29 there in 2021. Whether the world record will fall again in the women’s event is yet to be seen, but the meeting record of 7.79 – set by Hurske last year – looks fairly vulnerable.

The men’s event features a clash between four continental gold medallists. Switzerland’s European indoor champion Jason Joseph is undefeated this year and rounding into form nicely, having last weekend won the Swiss indoor title with a season’s best of 7.43 – the third-fastest man in the world this year.

He takes on the two men who preceded him as European indoor champion: France’s Wilhem Belocian and Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus, as well as European champion Asier Martinez. Italian record-holder Lorenzo Ndele Simonelli and Spanish record-holder Enrique Llopis add further quality to the field.

In the absence of some of their esteemed compatriots, Ethiopia’s Birke Haylom and Telahun Haile Bekele have an opportunity to capture their first victories of the year in the middle-distance events.

Teenager Haylom is the overwhelming favourite in the women’s 1500m. She clocked a PB of 3:58.43 to finish second in Boston, then placed third in Lievin with 4:00.00. Britain’s Revee Walcott-Nolan and Belgium’s 2021 European indoor champion Elise Vandereslt will be primed to capitalise if Haylom falters.

Bekele, the stand-out competitor in the men’s 3000m, will be making his season debut. His last race was at the Diamond League Final in September where he clocked a 3000m PB of 7:25.48. Young talent Ermias Girma – the 2022 world U20 800m champion – is stepping up in distance so could spring a surprise. And watch out for Hugo Hay of France.

A host of leading Spanish middle-distance runners will clash in the men’s 800m, led by Mohamed Attaoui, who has improved to 1:45.49 this year, and European indoor champion Adrian Ben. Alvaro de Arriba, the 2019 European indoor champion, and Belgium’s Pieter Sisk are also in the competitive line-up.

The women’s four-lap race looks set to be a clash between Ethiopia’s Worknesh Mesele and Tigist Girma.

Walsh vs Fabbri vs Steen in loaded shot put

The men’s shot put field certainly packs a punch. Two-time world indoor champion Tom Walsh has the farthest PB of the high-quality line-up but he is yet to secure a victory in a World Indoor Tour Gold meeting this year.

A win in Madrid could propel the New Zealander to the top of the standings, but he’ll have to finish comfortably ahead of USA’s series leader Roger Steen, the winner in Ostrava.

Italy’s world silver medallist Leonardo Fabbri won in Lievin with an indoor PB of 22.37m, which is the best performance this year of the field in Madrid. He, too, could snatch the series title, but only if Walsh, Steen and Tomas Stanek finish a few places behind.

The inclusion of Zane Weir, Bob Bertemes and Rajindra Campbell means there’ll be seven men in the competition with 22-metre-plus PBs. Big throws are to be expected.

Big jumps can be expected too. Australia’s 2022 world champion Eleanor Patterson takes on Slovenia's Lia Apostolovski and Czechia’s Michaela Hruba in the women’s high jump. In theory, one giant leap from Patterson – or anyone, for that matter – could be enough to win the series title, but Hruba already has five points in the bank, giving her something of a head start.

Spanish record-holder Jordan Alejdandro Diaz Fortun will enjoy the support of the home crowd in the triple jump. Returning to the scene of his national indoor record of 17.59m from last year, Diaz will face Algeria’s world and Olympic finalist Yasser Triki.

Elsewhere, Poland’s Piotr Lisek and Portugal’s Pedro Buaro will clash in the pole vault, while Spain’s Fatima Diame takes on Romania’s Florentina Iusco and Serbia’s Milica Gardasevic in the women’s long jump.

Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics

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