Elaine Thompson-Herah, Keely Hodgkinson and Mondo Duplantis are among red-hot line-ups at the Utilita Arena Birmingham this weekend
The annual indoor grand prix meeting in Birmingham has been described in the past as the “Weltklasse of the winter season”. With just over two hours of world-class athletics, the events feature multiple global champions and leading British competitors. After last year’s meeting was called off due to the pandemic, it returns on Saturday (Feb 19) for the first time in two years as well.
The schedule is packed with exciting head-to-heads and stacked fields. Here are some of the possible highlights.
Sprint queen on display
Elaine Thompson-Herah, the Olympic 100m, 200m and 4x100m champion, is having a quiet indoor season but has come over to Birmingham to race 60m against Britain’s Daryll Neita, Amy Hunt and Asha Philip.
Olympic finalist Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland and Spanish record-holder María Isabel Pérez also run. Will the Jamaican show her rivals a clean set of heels? Read more on this event here.
Hodgkinson tackles 800m
Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson might have one eye on Jemma Reekie’s British indoor record of 1:57.91. Her No.1 goal will be to win the race, though, against Olympic finalist Natoya Goule of Jamaica and fellow Brits Adelle Tracey and Jenny Selman.
The men’s 800m is interesting too with Elliot Giles, who 12 months ago broke Seb Coe’s long-standing UK record with 1:43.63, taking on Polish duo Marcin Lewandowski and Adam Kszczot and Spanish pair Alvaro de Arriba and Saul Ordonez.
Borthwick faces Lasitskene
Emily Borthwick has been in sensational form this year with a best of 1.95m which is close to the UK indoor record of 1.97m held by Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Morgan Lake.
In Birmingham the 24-year-old Wigan athlete will be hoping to get close to that mark but she will also enjoy testing herself against the undisputed world No.1 in recent years, Mariya Lasitskene. The Russian athlete, who is able to compete here due to having ‘authorised neutral athlete’ status, is the reigning world and Olympic champion and has a best of 2.06m outdoors (2.05m indoors). For more about the event see here.
How high will Duplantis go?
Mondo Duplantis set a world record of 6.18m at this event when it was staged in Glasgow in 2020 and the Swedish athlete is in great form so far this winter. Will a world record be on the cards for the Birmingham crowd to enjoy?
British record-holder Harry Coppell is also in the field, plus 2016 Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil.
Sprint hurdles head to head
World outdoor champion Grant Holloway faces Britain’s world indoor champion Andy Pozzi in the 60m hurdles, with both athletes having endured a gruelling journey to Birmingham amid Storm Eunice following Thursday night’s competition in Lievin, France.
Olympic and world medallist Orlando Ortega of Spain and Commonwealth champion Ronald Levy of Jamaica add to the quality and you can read more on the event here.
Peter Elliott’s 1500m record under threat
Jake Wightman, Neil Gourley, Charlie Grice, George Mills and Piers Copeland are part of a strong metric mile line-up that will have Elliott’s long-standing mark of 3:34.20 in their sights. European 3000m record-holder Adel Mechaal of Spain will be favourite, though. More, click here.
Britain’s Revee Walcott-Nolan, Holly Archer, Amy-Eloise Markovc, Erin Wallace and Ireland’s Sarah Healy, meanwhile, are in a top-class women’s 1500m field led by late entrant Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia.
Lyles in sprint clash
World 200m champion Noah Lyles has been in fine form this year so far and here he takes on fellow Americans Ronnie Baker and Mike Rodgers plus Brits such as Andy Robertson and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake in the 60m. See more here.
Paralympians in action
Sophie Hahn and Thomas Young are part of two mixed-class para 60m races. Both won gold medals in Tokyo last year and will want to start their 2022 in style in front of a packed crowd.
Reekie faces 1000m test
Following the withdrawal of Laura Muir due to a back injury, her training partner Jemma Reekie steps into the women’s 1000m and is hardly a second-rate replacement. She beat Muir over 600m in South Africa last month and holds the UK indoor record for 800m.
Maria Mutola’s long-time world indoor 1000m record of 2:30.94 will be tough to beat but Reekie will also have an eye on Muir’s European record of 2:31.93.
Best of the rest
British long jumpers Jazmine Sawyers, Lorraine Ugen and Abigail Irozuru face a strong international line-up that includes European indoor champion Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk.
Can teenage talent Ed Faulds beat Mark Hylton’s UK U20 indoor 400m record of 46.56 in a strong two-lap line-up that includes three-time world champion Pavel Maslák of the Czech Republic?
Timetable – Saturday February 19
13:15 – men’s 60m heat 1
13:20 – women’s high jump
13:25 – men’s 60m heat 2
13:35 – women’s Para 60m
13:45 – men’s Para 60m
13:55 – men’s pole vault
14:05 – women’s 1000m
14:15 – men’s 400m
14:25 – men’s 800m
14:35 – women’s 60m final
14:45 – men’s 60m final
14:51 – women’s long jump
14:55 – women’s 1500m
15:10 – men’s 60m hurdles
15:20 – women’s 60m hurdles
15:30 – women’s 400m
15:40 – men’s 1500m
15:54 – women’s 800m
Full start lists for the event – CLICK HERE
The meeting is covered live on BBC red button and online. For other territories around the world where there is no TV rights holder, the action will be live on the World Athletics YouTube channel.
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