MONACO, France, Feb 9 – Arriving on the heels of the world 2000m record she set on Tuesday, Genzebe Dibaba will command the spotlight when the IAAF World Indoor Tour resumes with the Copernicus Cup meeting in the northern Polish city of Torun on Friday.
This city of 200,000 is best known as the birthplace of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, whose model of the universe revolutionised the way we look at the stars by placing the sun at its center.
This Friday the city’s centre of attention – and that of the athletics world – will fall on the Torun Arena for the third edition of the meeting honouring its famed Renaissance mathematician where Dibaba will make her second of three scheduled appearances this winter.
On Tuesday night, the world 1500m champion clocked 5:23.75 over 2000m in Sabadell, Spain, the fastest time ever run over the distance, indoors or out.
Her performance eclipsed both Gabriella Szabo’s 5:30.53 indoor best set in 1998 and Sonia O’Sullivan’s outdoor world record of 5:26.88 set in 1994, giving Dibaba an early present on the eve of her 26th birthday.
It also illustrated that the Ethiopian is clearly in strong form leading up to her only indoor 1500m appearance of the indoor season.
She now owns the fastest indoor times ever produced for the 1500m, mile, 2000m, 3000m, two miles and 5000m. She is also the world record-holder outdoors in the 1500m, which all conspires to raise expectations that a realistic assault on her 3:55:17 indoor standard is within reach on Friday.
In Torun, she’ll face some fast company, too. Kalkidan Gezahegne of Bahrain, the 2010 world indoor 1500m champion, and Swede Meraf Bahta, the 2014 European 5000m champion, will make their first starts of the season. Dibaba will also have younger sister Anna at her side.
Local attention on Jozwik and Kszczot in the 800m
There will be plenty on the programme to attract local attention prior to the evening-capping women’s 1500m, most notably the two 800m contests.
Among the strongest local draws at the moment is Olympic 800m finalist Joanna Jozwik, who arrives riding the momentum from back-to-back tour victories.
Jozwik celebrated her 26th birthday a day late with her 2:00.91 win in Dusseldorf on 1 February, the season’s fastest, before following up with a 2:01.26 win in Karlsruhe on Saturday.
She’ll take on world champion Maryna Arzamasova, who appears to be rounding into shape. The Belarusian will be making her fourth tour appearance after fifth, fourth and third-place finishes in Boston, Dusseldorf and Karlsruhe respectively.
Iceland’s Anita Hinriksdottir, the 2013 world U18 champion, made a big leap forward in the senior ranks last weekend with a 2:01.18 national indoor record at home, and may be primed to challenge as well.
The men’s race, while not on the list of tour disciplines, will also figure prominently in the minds of local fans. That field is led by world silver medallist Adam Kszczot who has won two races in as many outings this winter.
He opened with a 1:46.17 world lead in Dusseldorf and prepped for Torun with a 1:46.31 win in Sabadell. Chief among his competitors is Erik Sowinski of the US, the world indoor silver medallist, who won in Karlruhe in 1:46.80, a lifetime best for the 27-year-old.
Men’s 1500m tour standings shake-up in the making
The men’s 1500m features a showdown between the first four men in the tour standings, headed by world silver medallist Elijah Manangoi.
The 24-year-old Kenyan won in Dusseldorf where he clocked a 3:37.62 world lead, and finished second in Karlsruhe last Saturday to Silas Kiplagat, currently second in the standings.
Vincent Kibet, a finalist at last year’s World Indoor Championships, and Bethwell Birgen, the Dusseldorf runner-up, are both capable to shake up the standings with a victory.
There’s a big name showdown in the men’s 400m as well, with Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslak the prohibitive favourite. The 2014 and 2016 world indoor champion opened with a solid 46.00 victory in Dusseldorf on Saturday, the third-fastest performance of the year.
He will face Grenada’s Olympic finalist Bralon Taplin, who clocked 46.25 in a different section in Dusseldorf. Taplin led last year’s world indoor list with 45.20 so is, like Maslak, very comfortable on the narrow confines of the indoor circuit.
Dominican Republic’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos, who clocked a 46.72 win in Sabadell, is also in the field, along with world and Olympic 4x400m champion Kyle Clemons of the US, and Poland’s Rafal Omelko, Lukasz Krawczuk and Jakub Krzewina, all European indoor relay medallists.