Preview: Mouth-watering men's sprints and hurdles races on the cards | 25.02.2013
|Italian sprinter Michael Tumi will be among the
frontrunners for the 60m sprints gold in Göteborg.
Some 30 years has elapsed since an Italian last took this title but hopes are high Michael Tumi can end that drought in Göteborg.
The 23-year-old — a 2011 European Under-23 100m silver medallist — is unbeaten in his three finals this season, setting a national record of 6.53 in Magglingen before chipping 0.02 from that time to land the Italian title.
Should Tumi, the European leader, deliver inside the Scandinavium he will become the first Italian to take this title since Stefano Tilli struck gold in Budapest three decades ago.
Expect his main rival to be Jimmy Vicaut, who is hoping, surprisingly, to be the first ever French athlete to take this title. Vicaut has competed in three finals this winter, registering exactly the same time 6.53 in each race, including in his last outing to land his national title.
He celebrates his 21st birthday on Wednesday (27 Feb) but already boasts a wealth of experience on the big stage. He placed sixth in the 100m final at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and landed 100m silver at last summer's European Athletics Championships in Helsinki.
The 2009 European indoor champion Dwain Chambers leads the British challenge, although he enters the championship in uncertain form. The 34-year-old veteran boasts a respectable season's best of 6.58 but performed poorly in his last outing in Birmingham where he failed to progress beyond the heat. His team-mate James Dasaolu posted a lifetime best of 6.58 en route to the British title and has to also be respected.
Also entered is Spain's 16-time national champion Angel David Rodriguez, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season at the age of 32, setting a PB of 6.55 to finish third in Dusseldorf.
Watch out also for Julian Reus, who set a personal best 6.56 when landing the German title in Dortmund and European 100m bronze medallist Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (6.63) of Norway.
European outdoor champion Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic heads the entrants for what looks set to be a thrilling two-lap dual. Maslak, 22, is a high-class performer with a personal best outdoors of 44.91. He claimed an impressive victory in Stockholm in his final pre-championship outing, although in his one other 400m race this winter – where he set a season's best 46.32 - he had to settle for second behind the long-striding Russian Pavel Trenikhin, who will be among his main opposition in Goteborg.
Trenikhin clocked a personal best of 46.09 en route to victory that day and the Olympic 400m semi-finalist, who is unbeaten this indoor season over a range of distances from 200m to 500m, will represent formidable opposition.
European leader Brian Gregan will hope to maintain Ireland's rich recent tradition in this event. His compatriot David Gillick memorably claimed back-to-back 400m victories at the 2005 and 2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships and Gregan himself boasts genuine claims. He set a personal best mark of 46.07 in Athlone in January and has a good pedigree as shown by winning a 400m silver medal at the 2011 European Athletics U23 Championships.
The British have a rich 400m tradition and boast a strong trio of athletes with podium potential. UK champion Nigel Levine set a personal best of 46.34 to win at the British Athletics Grand Prix and cannot be discounted. Meanwhile, his countrymen Richard Strachan (46.22) and the 2010 European outdoor 400m silver medallist Michael Bingham (46.42) also have podium ambitions. Among the other entrants include French champion Mamadou Hanne (46.79) and Volodymyr Burakov of Ukraine (46.70).
Men's 60m hurdles:
|European 110 hurdles champion Sergey Shubenkov
of Russia will be the one to beat in the 60m hurdles.
France could provide his chief opposition led by the 2011 World Indoor 60m hurdles bronze medallist Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. The 21-year-old equalled his lifetime best with a time of 7.53 to land the French title and expect him to figure prominently in Sweden. Watch out too for his countryman Dmitri Bascou (7.56).
The 25-year-old finished runner-up behind Martinot-Lagarde at the French championships, and he has the ability to improve upon his sixth placer finish at the 2011 European Indoor Championships.
Among the best of the rest could be Great Britain's Andy Pozzi (7.58). The 20-year-old finished fourth at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, although he has been troubled by a slight hamstring problem and was forced to withdraw from the final of his national championships. Shubenkov is joined on the Russian team by former world junior 110m hurdles champion Konstantin Shabanov (7.59). He was good enough to place fifth at the World Indoor Championships last winter and a podium spot in Goteborg is not beyond him.
The 2011 European U23 110m hurdles silver medallist Balazs Baji of Hungary posted a personal best of 7.57 for third in Dusseldorf and is another threat. German champion Erik Balnuweit (7.60) is also entered.
The long relay should provide a thrilling climax to the European Indoor Championships with Russia among the favourites to strike gold. Their team is led by European No.2 Pavel Trenikhin and supported by the likes of Vladimir Krasnov, who was part of the squad which finished fifth in the 2012 Olympic final.
Great Britain have collected one gold and three silver medals in the 4x400m at each of the past four European Athletics Indoor Championships and will again present formidable opposition. In Richard Strachan, Nigel Levine and Michael Bingham they boast three of Europe's top seven 400m sprinters this year and they will be a major threat again. Poland – the 2002 champions in this event - will also be in the hunt. Also entered are Belgium, the 2011 European Indoor bronze medallists, Sweden and the Czech Republic - led by European outdoor 400m champion Pavel Maslak.