KARLSRUHE, Germany, Feb 2- Genzebe Dibaba’s return to the setting of her world indoor 1500m record will be the key attractions on Saturday at the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe, the opening stop of the 2018 IAAF World Indoor Tour.
The IAAF World Indoor Tour is comprised of the six finest indoor meetings on the planet, with athletes competing for points in designated tour disciplines.
Now in its third season, this year’s tour will be staged over the course of 22 days, with further stops in Düsseldorf, Madrid, Boston and Torun before its conclusion in Glasgow on 25 February, just four days before the IAAF World Championships Birmingham 2018 get underway.
At the end of the series, the individual overall winner of each discipline takes home US$20,000 in prize money and a ‘wild card’ entry to the World Indoor Championships.
The women’s 1500m is among the point-scoring events this year, adding an extra layer of excitement to Dibaba’s return engagement.
The Ethiopian, now 26, smashed the world indoor 1500m record by more than three seconds at this meeting in 2014, albeit at a different venue, clocking 3:55.17.
No one other than the Ethiopian has come within two seconds of the mark since.
That record came in the lead-in to the first of Dibaba’s two world indoor 3000m title-winning runs.
This year’s appearance follows a 2017 season which started on an up-note indoors –Dibaba clocked a 5:23.75 world indoor 2000m record in Sabadell, Spain and was the world indoor leader at 1500m– but ended prematurely due to illness at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Saturday will be her first start since London, and she’ll be eager to wipe away that experience and start 2018 with a clean slate.
Dibaba faces a field that includes Kenyan Winny Chebet, who improved her PB outdoors last season to 3:59.16.
The men’s 3000m field is led by Yomif Kejelcha, the defending world indoor champion in the event. The 20-year-old has already gotten the year off to a good start, clocking 13:34.67 six days ago on Seattle’s over-sized track.
He’ll tangle with Ethiopian compatriot Hagos Gebrhiwet, the Olympic 5000m bronze medallist, who’ll be making his first appearance of the season.
Kenya will be well represented by Bethwell Birgen, a 7:32.48 runner outdoors; perennial 1500m standout Silas Kiplagat; and Edwin Soi, the Olympic 5000m bronze medallist in 2008, who’s looking to return close to the form that propelled him to world indoor bronze over this distance six years ago.
The pacesetters have been given Shadrack Kipchirchir’s 7:42.71 world lead as their target.
With the late hour withdrawal of Kenyan Kipyegon Bett due to a minor injury, the focus in the men’s 800m will fall on the experienced Marcin Lewandowski, who’s won European indoor gold at 800m and 1500m.
The field also includes Briton Andrew Osagie, the 2012 and 2014 world indoor bronze medallist, and Erik Solinski of the US, the 2016 world indoor bronze winer who opened his season with a win in New York last weekend.