Genzebe Dibaba, Mohammed Aman and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce among those at premier indoor meet
Widely regarded as the world’s premier indoor meeting, this weekend’s Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix features another star-studded line-up, with Genzebe Dibaba, Mohammed Aman and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce among the athletes competing in front of a sell-out crowd at Birmingham’s NIA.
Selection for the World Indoors is also at stake and the target for some of the British athletes will be qualifying times as the deadline for Sopot comes just one day after the meeting with only two per event able to go to Poland.
With an action-packed afternoon on the cards, here’s five events you really won’t want to miss.
» Women’s two miles
The day could reach a thrilling finale as the last event is the women’s two miles. The world indoor best for the rarely-run distance comes under threat from Genzebe Dibaba, who is in imperious form after setting indoor world records at 1500m and 3000m recently.
The Ethiopian is clearly capable of beating the 9:06.26 set by Meseret Defar and even the 8:58.58 best her compatriot has run outdoors.
In what looks like the race for second place are Lydia Chepkurui, Hiwot Ayalew and Britain’s Charlene Thomas, Helen Clitheroe and Steph Twell. The Brits will be chasing the clock too, given that 3000m times achieved en route will count for selection purposes for Sopot, the mark being 9:02.
» Men’s 60m hurdles
World 110m hurdles champion David Oliver takes on the man from whom he took that mark, Dayron Robles, in Birmingham.
After their dead heat at the British Championships, Andy Pozzi and William Sharman will renew their rivalry, while Andy Turner continues on the comeback trail.
“2013 is the past and will have very little bearing on the upcoming season, everyone will be on their A game and I have to make sure I am on mine as well,” commented Oliver. “2014 will be a long season and I am very happy to get it started at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix.”
» Women’s 60m
After missing the UK record by just a hundredth with 7.09 in Sheffield last weekend, Asha Philip will be hoping the presence of world 100m and 200m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will push her to new figures this weekend.
However, neither have run as quick over 60m as Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure, who leads the world rankings with 7.03 this year.
Norway’s Ezinne Okparaebo is another to watch out for. Also running is Dina Asher-Smith, who will hope to cement her credentials for Sopot with another victory over Montell Douglas.
» Men’s long jump
Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford makes his 2014 debut and is joined by fellow UK record-holder Chris Tomlinson.
World champion Aleksandr Menkov and his fellow Moscow medallists Ignisious Gaisah and Luis Rivera, together with Fabrice Lapierre and Li Jinzhe, present a tough line-up.
“I’m really looking forward to coming to the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham, which will be my only indoor competition this year,” said Rutherford.
“The field looks incredible; all three medallists from Moscow will line up and while this is my first competition since Moscow last summer, it’ll be a great test to see where I’m at before preparing for the summer season.
“(Aleksandr) Menkov is already in great shape, but I’m hoping the crowd will get behind me and my British team mates.”
» Women’s pole vault
Already on her way to Poland after a competitive start to the season, Holly Bleasdale tests herself against an international field that includes Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva of Cuba and Germany’s Liz Ryzih.
Sally Peake and Lucy Bryan are the other two Brits to appear.
» The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix will be televised on Saturday on BBC One from 1.15pm. Startlists can be found here. See the latest issue of AW for a two-page preview to while the February 20 issue will include in-depth coverage of the Birmingham event.