For athletics fans, it’s all eyes towards Belgrade and this year’s World Indoor Championships. As ever, we can expect plenty of top-tier performances, and who knows, we might even see a few records being broken too. This is one of those events that even casual fans—people who usually only watch the Olympics—can get behind. While it’s worth checking out all the events you can, there will be a few races that feature prominent athletes that are worthy of special attention. We’ve got Norwegian superstar Jakob Ingebrigsten, the European record holder. And then there’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson, a returning star who, despite being an outsider, will have people considering a free bet to back her for victory because of the brilliance of her past performances. And there are many more intriguing stars, as we’ll see below.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen really captured the world’s attention at the Summer Olympics, where he ran a quite brilliant 1500-metre race to claim the gold medal. Still only 21, the Norwegian didn’t just manage to snag first place. In the process, he broke the European and Olympics record for the event. He’s in a rich vein of form at the moment, too, so you can expect him to be confident going into the race. And especially since, on his day, he is so far ahead of his competition. Indeed, his European record was a full second and a half faster than the previously held fastest race. Incredible.
Those who got to see Katarina Johnson-Thompson compete in the 2019 European Indoor Championships knows she’s a star athlete. She romped her way to gold in Glasgow and deserved her success. Alas, the year that’s passed hasn’t been all that kind to Johnson-Thompson. She was forced to withdraw from the Olympics with an injury, and there are doubts surrounding her current fitness levels. But she remains a contender; anyone who witnessed the quality of her earlier performances knows that. After all, if there’s one person who can pull off a fairytale victory, it’s be Johnson-Thompson.
Let’s be honest: there wasn’t one person in the world who thought Italy would win the 100 metres race at the Olympics, except, of course, perhaps Marcell Jacobs. The young Italian pulled off an unlikely victory to beat some big names in what turned out to be an all-time classic race. In Belgrade, he’ll have a chance to get another medal when he competes in the 60-metre race. Despite being the Olympic gold medal winner, Jacobs still remains an outsider in this event. Christian Coleman is the current record holder at the World Indoor Championships and has to be considered favourite in this event, too. But Jacobs has shown that he can pull off unlikely victories on the biggest stage, so he’ll be reasonably confident that he can do more than cause a few scares.
Gudaf Tsegay isn’t just looking to win the 1,500-metre race. She’s looking to break records. She’s very much in the driving seat in this event, and it’ll be a huge shock if she doesn’t win. But that’s not what people are debating, the current question is whether she can break her own record. She’s in great form and has the experience to make it happen. But if there’s one thing we all know, it’s that breaking records is not easy. She’ll need to run a perfect race for it to happen. Whether she breaks the world record or not, you can expect that she’ll be joined on the podium by her friend and compatriot Axumawit Embaye. If they can get first and second place, it’ll be a great championship for Ethiopia.
Finally, there’s Yulimar Rojas, a figure who is well known at the World Indoor Championships. She’s won the hop, skip, and jump at this event in 2016 and 2018, and there’s every chance that she pulls off a hat-trick of victories at the 2022 edition. She’s getting very close to the world record, too. If she can pull that one off, it’ll be another brilliant year for the Venezuelan.