Gudaf Tsegay competes at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Lievin (© Dan Vernon)
Gudaf Tsegay, Noah Lyles, Lamecha Girma and Grant Holloway will be among the star attractions at the New Balance Grand Prix as they get their 2024 seasons under way at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Boston on Sunday (5).
Tsegay wrapped up her 2023 season in style by smashing the world 5000m record in Eugene. The world 10,000m champion returns to US soil for her first competitive outing of 2024 and what she hopes will be another memorable race.
She will contest the 1500m – the distance at which she holds the world indoor record of 3:53.09 – and will line up alongside 2022 world U20 champion Birke Haylom, who set an African U20 record of 3:54.93 last year, and 2021 world U20 800m champion Ayal Dagnachew, as well as Japanese record-holder Nozomi Tanaka and USA’s Addy Wiley. With so many sub-four-minute performers in the field, the meeting record of 3:59.98, set 21 years ago, will most likely come under threat.
Tsegay’s compatriot and fellow world record-holder Lamecha Girma, meanwhile, will line up for the 3000m. In his first outing of 2023 over this distance, he set a world indoor record of 7:23.81, so he’ll be hopeful of producing something special – at least an improvement on the 7:30.82 meeting record – on his 2024 season opener.
The multiple global steeplechase silver medallist will be joined on the start line by his younger brother Diriba Girma, world U20 steeplechase silver medallist Samuel Firewu, and European indoor 1500m silver medallist Neil Gourley.
Lamecha Girma breaks the world indoor 3000m record in Lievin (© Baptiste Daniel)
There are global gold medallists in the three other endurance disciplines in Boston.
In the men’s 1500m, world road mile champion Hobbs Kessler takes on 2022 world 1500m champion Jake Wightman, who’ll be returning to top-flight competition after missing most of last year.
World U20 cross-country champion Senayet Getachew is part of a high-quality 3000m field that also includes world indoor silver medallist Elle St Pierre, world U20 5000m champion Medina Eisa, Fentaye Belayneh, triple world U20 medallist Melknat Wudu and Oceanian record-holder Jess Hull of Australia.
The men’s 1000m, meanwhile, features world 800m champion Marco Arop, world indoor champion Mariano Garcia and world indoor bronze medallist Bryce Hoppel.
Lyles and Kerley clash over 60m
The two men who have claimed the world 100m titles in recent years – Noah Lyles and Fred Kerley – aren’t shying away from stiff opposition in their first World Indoor Tour Gold meeting of the year.
The US duo will race over 60m, which is at the lower end of their range, but it would be unwise to bet against sprinters with versatility such as theirs.
Lyles, who last year succeeded Kerley as world 100m champion, has a PB of 6.51 and opened his season last weekend with a 6.63 win in Gainesville. Kerley, meanwhile, has never contested the 60m indoors, but he has the superior 100m PB: 9.76 to Lyles’ 9.83.
Noah Lyles in 60m action at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix (© Getty Images)
Others in the field to look out for include Demek Kemp, the winner in Astana last weekend in 6.55, and 2018 world indoor bronze medallist Ronnie Baker, the third-fastest man in history with a PB of 6.40.
The women’s 60m hurdles features a mouth-watering clash between world leader Devynne Charlton, who recently improved her own Bahamian record to 7.75, and world 100m hurdles record-holder Tobi Amusan. US duo Alaysha Johnson and Masai Russell will also be formidable opponents, so too will Olympic bronze medallist Megan Tapper of Jamaica.
World champion Grant Holloway embarks on what he hopes will be his 10th successive undefeated indoor campaign in the 60m hurdles. The world indoor record-holder takes on world medallists Daniel Roberts and Trey Cunningham, as well as rising star Cordell Tinch and NACAC champion Freddie Crittenden.
Aleia Hobbs, the second-fastest woman in history for 60m and winner in Boston last year with a meeting record of 7.02, headlines the women’s short sprint field. World indoor silver medallist Mikiah Brisco and New Zealand record-holder Zoe Hobbs are also in the line-up.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards will contest the 400m, the distance at which he is the world indoor champion. He has fond memories of Boston as it’s where, in 2018, he set a meeting record over 300m. This Sunday his main opposition will come from US duo Vernon Norwood, the world and Olympic 4x400m champion, and Elija Godwin, a 44.75 performer indoors.
Jereem Richards in action at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Boston (© Victah Sailer)
World and Olympic medallist Gabby Thomas also returns to Boston and will once again contest the 300m. She set a meeting record of 35.73 at this distance in 2021 when the competition was held on Staten Island. Nigeria’s Favour Ofili, USA’s Talitha Diggs and Lynna Irby-Jackson are also in the field and all capable of excelling at this distance.
Both long jump contests should be highly competitive. In the women’s event, USA’s world silver medallist Tara Davis-Woodhall takes on compatriot Quanesha Burks and world and Olympic medallist Ese Brume.
Versatile jumper JuVaughn Harrison, the world high jump silver medallist, will compete in his secondary event, the long jump, on Sunday. NCAA champion Carey McLeod and 2017 world silver medallist Jarrion Lawson will provide tough opposition.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics