Raphael Holzdeppe after his victory in Karlsruhe (© Jiro Mochizuki for the IAAF)
Just three days after a thrilling opener in Karlsruhe, the six-meeting 2018 IAAF World Indoor Tour continues in Düsseldorf with the 13th edition of the PSD Bank Meeting on Tuesday (6) night.
The series' second stop features more than 130 athletes from nearly 40 countries in the hunt for points in the month-long chase for the over-all tour title in 11 disciplines along with a wild card entry into next month's IAAF World Championships Birmingham 2018.
Points --10 for first place, seven for second, five for third and three for fourth-- will be at stake in eight events at the Leichtathletikhalle Düsseldorf, seven of which were on the programme just two days ago in Karlsruhe, 330 kilometres to the south.
Among those bringing strong momentum to Germany's seventh largest city is Raphael Holzdeppe, who topped a 5.88m world lead and indoor personal best in the pole vault. It was the 2013 world champion's highest absolute clearance in more than two years.
On Saturday, the German was pushed by world record holder Renaud Lavillenie; tomorrow he'll face world champion Sam Kendricks of the US whose 16-meeting win streak came to end in Cottbus five days ago where he topped 5.78m in his season's debut, finishing second to Pole Piotr Lisek. Lisek, the 2017 European indoor champion and a member of the six-metre club, is also on the slate. He's topped 5.83m twice this year and won his last three outings. The strong field also boasts Konstadinos Filippidis of Greece, the 2014 world indoor champion, and Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland and Canadian Shawn Barber, the 2011 and 2015 world champions outdoors.
Nelvis looking to add to her momentum
Then there’s Sharika Nelvis, who powered to a 7.80 world lead in in the 60m hurdles in Karlsruhe. She returns to action, along with the next three women who pushed her to that career best. Christina Manning, who was second, was just a fraction behind in 7.81, also a lifetime best. Meanwhile, Germany's Cindy Roleder equalled her 7.84 personal best in third and Alina Talay of Belarus, twice the European champion, lowered her season's best to 7.88.
World 110m hurdles bronze medallist Pamela Dutkiewicz, fifth in Karlsruhe, also returns.
It’s a similar scenario in the women's long jump, where Malaika Mihambo will be looking to add to her momentum following her 6.72m world lead on Saturday night. In an entertaining sixth round battle, she edged Sosthene Taroum Moguenara by just two centimetres to bank maximum points. Almost the entire field from Karlsruhe made the trip north, including Serbia's Ivana Spanovic, the European champion, who will be looking to improve on her 6.61 season's best that landed her in third in Karlsruhe.
Meanwhile, Su Bingtian of China will be gunning for his third 60m victory in as many starts in 2018. The 28-year-old lowered his own Asian record to 6.47 in Karlsruhe, equalling the third fastest performance of the season, thus bestowing upon him the role of favourite. But hardly a prohibitive one.
Yunier Perez, a close third in Karlsruhe, returns to the track, along with Kim Collins, who was fourth on Saturday. Richard Kilty, the 2014 world indoor champion, is also entered. Local eyes will focus on national record holder Julian Reus.
Loaded men's 800m field
Marcin Lewandowski edged Erik Sowinski by just 0.01 in the Karlsruhe 800 on Saturday. They'll be back at it here, joined in an even deeper field by Lewandowski's compatriot Adam Kszczot, a two-time world 800m silver medallist outdoors and five time European champion in the event, three times indoors and twice out. The 28-year-old will be making his 2018 indoor debut.
As will Antoine Gakeme of Burundi, who snatched world indoor silver two years ago ahead of Sowinski. Kipyegon Bett, meanwhile, the world outdoor bronze medallist last year, will be racing indoors for the first time. Two sections will be run.
Tsegay vs Seyaum in the 1500m
In the women's 1500, the field will have a difficult act to follow, just three days after Genzebe Dibaba's stunning 3:57.45 performance, the second fastest of all-time. That was primarily a solo effort; Tuesday's is shaping into a strong head-to-head and perhaps, an opportunity for two of Dibaba's 21-year-old compatriots an opportunity to shine. The first is Gudaf Tsegay who two years ago raced to world indoor bronze just a few weeks after lowering the world indoor U20 record to 4:01.81. Last summer she dipped under four minutes outdoors, clocking 3:59.55 in Paris.
Another is Dawit Seyaum, the 2016 world indoor silver medallist and an Olympic finalist later that year, who boasting bests of 3:58.09 outdoors and 4:00.28 indoors.
Others to watch include Angelika Cichocka of Poland, the 2016 European champion and Kenyan Winny Chebet, a sub-four performer outdoors, who'll be looking to bounce back from sub-par finishes in Karlsruhe.
The men's 3000m field is lead by Yomif Kejelcha, the reigning world indoor champion who was beaten into second by Ethiopian compatriot Hagos Gebrhiwet in Karlsruhe. The latter won't be on the start line, but compatriot Dejen Gebremeskel, the 2012 Olympic 500m silver medallist, will be, running on fresh legs. Spaniard Adel Mechaal, the European champion, who finished fourth in Karlsruhe, returns as well, eager to up his point tally. Albert Rop of Bahrain, the the Asian record holder over the distance, is also in the field. Look out too for Kenyan Davis Kiplangat, the 2015 world U17 silver medallist, who is apparently making his indoor debut. Last summer, at 18, he finished second at the Kenyan trials in the 5000m to earn a spot to the World Championships in London.
Tour men's shot put battle begins
Dusseldorf marks the first point-grab competition in the men's shot put. The solid field is headed by Czech Tomas Stanek, the current world leader who reached an indoor lifetime best of 21.61m in his season's debut in Ostrava eight days ago. He'll face European indoor champion Konrad Bukowiecki of Poland, at 21.23m currently third in the world. Ryan Whiting of the US, the 2012 and 2014 world indoor champion, and Croatia's Stipe Zunic, the world outdoor bronze medallist, will also take to the circle.
The main attraction off of the World Indoor Tour scoring programme?
The men's 1500m, which features the world champion outdoors Elijah Manangoi. The 25-year-old Kenyan is a familiar face in Dusseldorf, having won at this meeting the past two years. He'll face Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco, the 2012 world indoor champion, who stretched his legs in the Karlsruhe 3000m where he finished third. Expect Czech Jakub Holusa, the 2015 European champion and world indoor runner-up in 2016, to be a factor.
There's also a straight final in men's 60m hurdles, featuring Briton Andy Pozzi, the European indoor champion who clocked 7.58 to win in Berlin on 26 January and Hungary's Balaz Baji, last summer's 110m hurdles world bronze medallist.
The women's 60m, also a straight final, features 2017 Tour winner Gayon Evans of Jamaica, 201 world champion Barbara Pierre, and European indoor champion Asha Philip of Great Britain, who was third in Karlsruhe clocking 7.12.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF