Previews09 Feb 2018

Sprints set to share spotlight with distance events as IAAF World Indoor Tour reaches Boston


Christina Manning on her way to 60m hurdles victory in Düsseldorf (© Gladys Chai von der Laage)

A few kilometres and three stops on the ‘T’, Boston’s transit system, takes you from the finish line of the Boston Marathon to the Reggie Lewis Center in the Roxbury neighbourhood, where a world-class athletics facility shares space with basketball and tennis courts on the campus of Roxbury Community College. On Saturday (10) ‘the Reggie’ dresses up to welcome the fourth stop in the IAAF World Indoor Tour, the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.

Distance races usually hold the spotlight in Boston, but two intriguing sprint races will feature this year.

In the men’s 60m, Christian Coleman will make his World Indoor Tour debut. Last month the world 100m silver medallist ran 6.37, the fastest time in history for the distance. Facing Coleman in Boston will be IAAF Diamond League 200m champion Noah Lyles and China’s Xie Zhenye, who both ran 6.57 last week in New York. Xie was second here last year in 6.66, separated from winner Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (also back in 2018) by thousandths of a second.

The women’s 60m hurdles is so thick with quality that naming just two of the women in the field – Christina Manning and Sharika Nelvis – covers the four fastest clockings in the event so far this year. Jasmin Stowers and Queen Harrison will also line up; neither of them athletes who would be ‘also’s in any other event.

The women’s 400m will feature three-time world indoor 4x400m champion Natasha Hastings, but also 2015 world 400m hurdles silver medallist Shamier Little, who has run 52.84 this season without barriers in her way.

It says something about Boston that the ultimate event on the schedule is the men’s 3000m, and the headline on that event is two men who have made names for themselves at this meeting, even if they hadn’t piled up honours elsewhere.

Dejen Gebremeskel upset Mo Farah at this distance in 2011, despite losing a shoe early in the race and finishing in just his sock. And Hagos Gebrehiwet came in turn to upset Gebremeskel in 2013 and set a still-standing world U20 indoor record of 7:32.87.

The women’s 3000m isn’t a World Indoor Tour scoring event but will feature world steeplechase champion Emma Coburn and 2011 world 1500m champion Jenny Simpson. After breaking all of Simpson’s national steeplechase records, this may be the first time Coburn has billed above Simpson in the same race, but neither of these fierce competitors is likely to give the other an inch if she can help it.

An intriguing middle-distance race is the men’s 800m, where world indoor champion Boris Berian will start putting an injury-hampered 2017 season behind him. Berian will face a tough challenge in Donavan Brazier, whose 1:45.35 in New York put him third on the 2018 performance list and second on the North American indoor all-time list.

Dawit Seyaum, a 1500m winner here in 2016, returns in that race this year, facing Hannah England and Violah Lagat. Seyaum, the world indoor silver medallist, raced infrequently in 2017 and will open her 2018 campaign here.

Inside the oval, Bahamian record-holder Leevan Sands, Olympic finalist Troy Doris and 2014 world indoor finalist Chris Carter will contest the men’s triple jump. In the women’s high jump, only Alyxandra Treasure has jumped already this year, clearing 1.89m in Karlsruhe.

Parker Morse for the IAAF