The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Hot Istanbul Match Ups

Mar 8th, 2012
5:07 pm PDT

IsinbayevaThe World Indoor Championships this weekend in Istanbul Turkey will close out the elite indoor season and provide a segue into the outdoor season proper. As such we should see the best performances yet on the 200 meter oval. Before I post my predictions tomorrow on who I think the winners will be (I’m still on the fence in a couple of events) here are a half dozen events that I’m really looking forward to based on the match ups that will be on the track.


Women’s Pole Vault

Yelena Isinbayeva has come back in a BIG way this indoor season. For starters, she took down her own WR with a brilliant 5.01m (16’ 5.25”) vault in Stockholm last month. To add to that recently, however, she’s stated that she doesn’t consider this year’s major improvement, Holly Bleasdale (GBR) to be a threat to her – in spite of Bleasdale improving her British record to 4.87m (15’ 11.75”) this winter, and becoming #3 all-time indoors – “Isi” has her swag back! She’ll get a chance to back up those words because Bleasdale will be in Istanbul – setting up a head to head between the two. We’ll find out if Bleadale is a rival or not – after all the Olympics will at home for Holly and she will want to make a good showing! Grab a bag of popcorn and your favorite drink because this should be a good one.


Men’s 60 Meters

I’m going to stay on the rivalry theme for a minute, because rivalries are what build a sport – and one of the biggest budding rivalry’s in the sport right now is between the US and Jamaica in the short sprints. We’ll be missing the “big dogs” in Istanbul (Bolt & Gay) but we have a group of gentlemen that hope to be nipping at their heels later in the season. Jamaica will be represented by Lerone Clarke (6.47) and Nesta Carter (6.49). The US will be putting Trell Kimmons (6.45) and Justin Gatlin (6.47) in the blocks. Clarke was 4th in this event in Doha in 2010, while Gatlin won the 2003 version in Birmingham England. All four individuals stand a chance to make their respective Olympic squads and at the very least they should all be in the finals of their Trials. Performing well in this meet would be a boon to any of them, giving them a little extra “cred” heading into the big meets this summer. To do so while running mid to low 6.4x could send them on their way to sub 9.90 outdoors and strengthen their shot at a ticket to London. Then of course there’s that rivalry thing, because neither Jamaicans nor Americans like to lose to each other – and it would be nice to start the year off with a sprint crown for the winning country heading outdoors!


Women’s 60 Meters

Ditto the women on the Jamaica v US rivalry, except this one brings an interesting twist. The Jamaican women will be represented by Veronica Campbell Brown – one of the most decorated athletes in Jamaican history, and the defending Olympic 200 champion. The US has a woman known more for the long jump in Tianna Madison (‘05 World Indoor LJ champion) who has twice run within a hair of the 7 second barrier with clockings of 7.02! This could be a battle for gold that could also move outdoors if Madison’s improvement in the sprint transfers outside. So while we expect the names to change for the men once things get going on the long straight, these two should be in the mix with Carmelita Jeter and a few others when the going gets hot outdoors. Making Istanbul a possible preview of things to come!


Men’s Triple Jump

The triple jump, IMHO, could be one of the featured events in London, as quite frankly it is loaded with talent. Several of the principles will be in Istanbul, including Will Claye (USA), Christian Taylor (USA), Sheryf El Sheryf (UKR), Marian Oprea (ROM), Alexis Copello (CUB), and David Girat (CUB). Claye is this year’s WL at 17.63m/57’ 10.25”. Taylor the current outdoor World Champion and #5 all-time (17.96m/58’ 11.25”). Sheryf was last year’s Euro Jr. Champion, while Oprea, Giralt and Copello have all won medals in global majors. The only men missing that could play major roles this year and be in London are Teddy Tamgho (FRA) and Philips Idowu (GBR). This event is loaded and should provide an early look at athletes that should be battling for medals in London. And there is always he secondary story of Claye & Taylor – teammates at Florida where Taylor won most of the titles, and Claye now looking to upstage him and make his own mark!


Women’s 800 Meters

Pamela Jelimo (KEN) is the 4th fastest woman ever over the distance (1:54.01) – I think a lot of people forget that. Probably because she all but disappeared after winning the gold medal in Beijing four years ago (1:54.87). As a matter of fact, she hasn’t run under 2:01 since then and was only 2:09.12 last year. Well folk, at 1:59.10 and #2 on the yearly list, Jelimo looks to be back – and I think keeping an eye on her as the season progresses will provide a view of what is going to happen in this event in London. In Istanbul she will go up against indoor leader Malika Akkoui (MAR, 1:59.01) and Elena Kofanova (RUS, 1:59.63). Both women have had good indoor seasons and should be very strong competition for Jelimo. I’m looking forward to seeing how Jelimo handles them, because if she is indeed in form we could see some serious running outdoors in this event this year.


Women’s 60 Meter Hurdles

Quite simply, Sally Pearson. She’s already run 12.47 outdoors, so we know she is in sizzling shape. She hasn’t run a single race indoors all year, making this her one and only indoor event. Yet I can’t see anyone keeping her away from the gold medal. What I’m looking forward to is her race against the clock. The WR in the event is 7.68 run by Susanna Kallur in 2008. Outdoor WR holder Yordanka Donkova (BUL, 12.21) had a best of 7.74 – a WR at the time, run the year before she set her outdoor WR. It would be nice to see Sally run faster than Donkova and potentially set the indoor WR, because the last person to hold both the indoor and outdoor hurdle records was Donkova – and I think Ms. Pearson has a shot to be the next one!

This meet should be a nice way to close out the indoor season and send us outdoors in fine style.

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