Preview: Kszczot defends title as Rimmer chases his golden chance | 27.02.2013
|Poland's Adam Kszczot set to defend his 800m
title in Göteborg.
With two laps left in the final of the men's 800m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Paris two years ago, Poland's Adam Kszczot decided to make his move. He had watched as Luis Alberto Marco, of Spain, had made the running to establish the lead before drama struck.
As Kszczot and Marco battled at the front, the Spaniard fell. He picked himself up but by then the race had gone.
Kszczot powered away to win 1:47.87 from his teammmate Marcin Lewandowski in 1:48.23 with Spain's Kevin Lopez third in 1:48.35. Not only will the top three from Paris be reunited in Göteborg, but Marco, who quickly regained his composure to finish fifth, will be there as will Britain's Andrew Osagie, who missed out on bronze in the final strides and crossed the line in fourth.
His win marked the start of a brilliant year for Kszczot, who then went on to triumph in the 800m at the European Under-23 Championships in Ostrava.
But the defence of his title will come with him third on the European Athletics rankings with 1:46.62, behind the leading British pair of Michael Rimmer (1:46.55) and Mukhtar Mohammed (1:46.58).
And how Rimmer, 27, will be determined to make his speed in 2013 count and show the Polish pair it his turn now.
He has been knocking on the door for a major medal for a long time and it almost came his way at the European Athletics Championships in Barcelona in 2010.
In a thrilling final, Rimmer led as the race reached the home straight but challenging by his side came both Lewandowski and Kszczot.
Rimmer was on the inside and did his best to hold on but Lewandowski had that little bit extra, winning by a mere 0.10 seconds in 1:47.07 from Rimmer with Kszczot back in third.
It is possible that this trio could be the dominant forces again, but who will be first home this time?
|Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France. (Getty
Frenchman Mekhissi-Benabbad, 27, has never found his way onto the podium at the 1500m but he will head to Göteborg for this week's European Athletics Indoor Championships as the fastest man in the field this year.
It would be some double to have on his list of success - an outdoor champion over barriers and an indoor champion on the flat.
But in his one Championship at the distance, the World Indoor Championship last year in Istanbul, he was eighth.
His time then was 3:45.22 but his 3:36.95 this winter has put him second on the European Athletics rankings which are led by Ciaran O Lionaird with 3:36.85 but the Irishman will not be in Sweden.
It will be a competitive event, that goes without saying, as Turkey's Ilham Tanui Ozbilen will be looking to go one better than his countryman Kemal Koyuncuwho won silver in Paris two years ago as Manuel Olmedo, of Spain, took gold. Third in that final was Poland's Bartosz Nowicki in a national record of 3:41.48.
He has since lowered his personal best time to 3:38.90 and is back at the Championships after a winter where his quickest time was 3:39.65 in Karlsruhe.
While it would also be some ask to run in both, let alone make the podium in both, Poland's Marcin 800m star Lewandowski has also entered this 1500m.
The timetable would make it possible, with the clashes being in the first round of the 1500m on Saturday morning and the 800m semi-finals on Saturday evening before the 800m final on Sunday morning and the 1500m final on Sunday afternoon.
Two years Mo Farah won this title at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Paris, but the two men behind him then, Hayle Ibrahimov, of Azerbaijan, and Turkey's Halil Akkas now have the chance to battle it out for gold.
Farah has chosen not to defend his crown in Göteborg in a winter where Ibrahimov tops the European Athletics' rankings with 7:39.59. He will face tough opposition, particularly from France, whose trio of Florian Carvalho, Simon Denissel and Yoann Kowal have run well in 2013.
Carvalho is the fastest of the three, with 7:45.777 while Spain will also be making a triple assault at this distance with Roberto Alaiz, Carlos Alonso and Juan Carlos Higuero.
Now 34, Higuero's outstanding record at the European Athletics Indoor Championships goes back over a decade with a succession of medals at the 1500m.
He won silver twice, in Vienna in 2002 and Madrid in 2005, before finally making it gold in Birmingham in 2007 and then finishing sixth in Paris two years ago.
With a personal best of 7:48.46, he has run 7:49.55 this year to sit 11th on the European Athletics rankings and it would be a fabulous story if he made the top three in Sweden having been such a stalwart of these Championships.