Mo Farah on his way to an assured victory in the 3000m in Birmingham (© Getty Images)
Mo Farah had to settle for second place at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country in January but with a solid block of altitude training in Ethiopia under his belt, the Brit will be looking to claim his first win of the year at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix, the final IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting of 2016, on Saturday (20).
Farah’s task won’t be an easy one, as the organisers have invited an in-form and race-sharp Augustine Choge to take on the double world and Olympic champion. Choge missed last year’s track season with an achilles injury but has returned this winter with two high-profile wins against good opposition including world indoor champion Caleb Ndiku in Dusseldorf (7:39.23) and in Karlsruhe (7:43.22).
Farah and Choge went head-to-head over 1500m in this city four years ago in an international match staged at Kelvin Hall to the west of the Emirates Arena. On that occasion, Farah eked out a hard-fought victory in 3:39.03 to Choge’s 3:39.14 before the tables were turned over 3000m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
Choge finished second to Farah’s fourth on that day and the 29-year-old Kenyan is targeting his first global senior title in Portland next March. A top-three finish in Glasgow would see Choge finish at the top of the World Indoor Tour standings for his event, guaranteeing him a wildcard entry for Portland.
Hassan and Souleiman headline 1500m line-ups
Another standout clash in the middle-distances is between Sifan Hassan and Dawit Seyaum in the 1500m. Hassan has been training in South Africa this winter and hasn’t raced since her gun-to-tape win over 8km at the European Cross Country Championships last December but Seyaum arrives off the back of a victory in Boston in 4:01.86.
Seyaum, whose momentum in Boston was broken after stumbling on the curb on the last lap, was disappointed not to break the four-minute mark but another fast time could be in the offing if the Ethiopian is still motivated by an assault on that barrier.
Fellow Ethiopians Axumawit Embaye and Gudaf Tsegay could also challenge for the victory, not only in Glasgow but in the overall World Indoor Tour standings.
Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman comes fresh from dismantling the world indoor 1000m record with 2:14.20 in Stockholm and the 23-year-old could chase another fast time over his favoured distance of 1500m. The world indoor record stands at 3:31.18 to Hicham El Guerrouj, while the British all-comers’ best is 3:33.10.
World silver medallist Melissa Bishop closes her whistle-stop European indoor tour against a competitive line-up in the 800m including fellow world finalists Shelayna Oskan-Clarke and Joanna Jozwik, world 1500m fifth-place finisher Laura Muir, European indoor champion Selina Buchel and two-time world 400m hurdles champion Zuzana Hejnova.
Adam Kszczot will be looking to maintain his unbeaten streak in the men’s 800m. The Pole comes up against two-time world indoor champion Mohamed Aman but Kszczot has easily beaten the Ethiopian in their two contests this winter and has already done enough to guarantee overall victory in the World Indoor Tour.
Mimi Belete is the fastest in a wide open field for the 3000m and will face opposition from world steeplechase bronze medallist Gesa-Felicitas Krause and the fast-finishing Pole Sofia Ennaoui.
Schippers, Bascou and Collins promise fast times in sprints
With six of the eight fastest sprinters this winter on the entry-list, the field for the women’s 60m is comparable, if not superior, to some of the World Indoor Championships finals in years gone by.
At least three noteworthy records could be under threat in Glasgow. Dafne Schippers tied Nelli Cooman’s 30-year-old Dutch record of 7.00 in Berlin last weekend and the world 200m champion is getting faster with every race this winter.
Ewa Swoboda briefly tied Schippers at the top of the world list with her world indoor U20 record of 7.07 in Torun last Friday and the fast-starting Pole could challenge that mark in what might be her last indoor race as a junior.
And Dina Asher-Smith is in shape to claim the outright British record which she shares with Jeanette Kwakye at 7.08. In her only international race of the winter, Asher-Smith was a close third in Karlsruhe in 7.11 behind Schippers (7.08) and Barbara Pierre (7.09), who is also in the field.
Another exciting entrant is world 200m silver medallist Elaine Thompson from Jamaica, who will be making her indoor debut.
Kim Collins and current World Indoor Tour leader Mike Rodgers will face each other for the fourth time over 60m this winter: Collins leads the head-to-head 2-1, although Rodgers was disqualified for a false start in one of those races.
Collins and Rodgers have dominated the European indoor circuit this winter but world 100m bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell arrives with some fast times in the United States to his name. Brits Sean Safo-Antwi and Adam Gemili have also been in good early season form.
Fresh from breaking Ladji Doucoure’s French record with a 7.41 world lead in Berlin, Dimitri Bascou will be looking to confirm that form in the 60m hurdles. He has only lost once this winter, in Dusseldorf to Orlando Ortega who isn’t competing in Glasgow.
Fellow world leader Keni Harrison leads the field in the women’s 60m hurdles. The US sprint hurdler will take on world indoor champion Nia Ali, 2015 world leader Sharika Nelvis, European champion Tiffany Porter and world silver medallist Cindy Roleder.
Ali currently leads the World Indoor Tour standings, but if Harrison wins in Glasgow and Ali finishes third or lower, then her compatriot could take the series victory and the wildcard entry for Portland.
Pavel Maslak and Stephenie-Ann McPherson are the standout names in the 400m. While Maslak is an experienced exponent of the indoor format with two European indoor titles and a world indoor title to his name, McPherson will be making her indoor debut on Saturday.
If the winner of the women’s race runs 52.59 or quicker, they could, in theory, come out on top in the World Indoor Tour standings. But a top-two finish from Bianca Razor could give the Romanian the series win.
Barber vs Braz in the pole vault
Shawn Barber and Thiago Braz are first and second respectively on this year’s world pole vault list and the pair will be going head-to-head for the first time this winter.
Since clearing 6.00m at the start of the year, Barber’s form has been somewhat indifferent but the world champion returned to winning ways in Athlone on Wednesday with a 5.77m victory over Sam Kendricks, who beat Barber in Boston on Sunday. The Canadian also has an unassailable lead in the World Indoor Tour standings.
Braz, who also beat Barber for the world junior title four years ago, arrives in excellent shape with the Olympic Games on home soil in Rio de Janeiro fast approaching. The 22-year-old cleared an outright South American record of 5.93m in Berlin last weekend and took the scalps of Renaud Lavillenie and Raphael Holzdeppe in the process.
World silver medallist Shara Proctor is expected to claim victory on home soil in the long jump, but will be up against compatriot Lorraine Ugen, who finished ahead of her in Stockholm on Wednesday. If either athlete finishes in the top two on Saturday, they will claim the World Indoor Tour win and the Portland wildcard that goes with it.
USA’s Omar Craddock, who won in Boston on Sunday to leap to the top of the World Indoor Tour standings, will be looking for back-to-back wins in the triple jump.
Another late scratch is Greg Rutherford. He was supposed to take on the IPC world champion Markus Rehm from Germany, who jumped 8.40m in Doha last year. Rehm is still in the field and will face world silver medallist Fabrice Lapierre and world fourth-place finisher Gao Xinglong.
Having cleared 1.95m in Hustopece last weekend, Levern Spencer from St Lucia is among the favourites for the women’s high jump. But Germany’s Marie-Laurence Jungfleisch will be looking to hold on to her lead in the World Indoor Tour standings.
Steven Mills for the IAAF