Storl chasing lucky number 13

Storl seeks 10 of the best
Getty Images

Germany's David Storl will be going for his 13th shot put medal at major championships.

At the helm of the German team for the European Athletics Indoor Championships is a man who will achieve a remarkable landmark if he triumphs in Belgrade next week.

David Storl, the defending shot put champion, first won a major senior medal (silver) at the Paris 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships and has kept on winning since.

Storl is the world No. 1 this winter with his 21.37m from Rochlitz on 5 February and he is one of 45 German athletes heading to Serbia.

It is a strong squad, including European triple jump champion Max Hess, whose glory in Amsterdam saw him named as European Athletics' male Rising Star for 2016, Raphael Holzdeppe, the 2013 pole vault world champion, and Cindy Roleder, the European 100m hurdles champion.

Still only 26, Storl has won a gold every year bar one since becoming the world youth champion in Ostrava in 2007. It is an incredible level of continued success, which saw him crowned outdoor European champion for the third time in Amsterdam last summer.

After winning European silver indoors in 2011, Storl had to hold his nerve in a brilliant final in Prague two years ago when he found himself in second position again with only two rounds to go.

He then produced a superb 20.92m to overtake Czech leader Ladislav Prasil before a final round 21.23m confirmed his gold medal as Serbia's Asmir Kolasinac reached a distance of 20.90m for silver.

With the crowd behind him, Kolasinac will be determined to go even further this time, which should be make for a tremendous competition as Storl seeks the 11th major gold medal of his career.

Hess, 20, will never forget 2016, where he showed his ability indoors with world silver in Portland in March before jumping 17.20m for gold in Amsterdam, while Holzdeppe will be seeking his first indoor medal.

The German squad is packed with talent.

Like Hess, Konstanze Klosterhalfen is also just 20 and has already made her name for herself with her successive victories in the junior race at the last two SPAR European Cross Country Championships.

And she has set herself a tough target in Belgrade by choosing to run the 1500m and 3000m, where she will face Great Britain's record-breaking Laura Muir at both distances.

Roleder won gold in 12.62 in Amsterdam and now will be looking for a famous double in the 60m hurdles although her biggest challenge is likely to come from her teammate Pamela Dutkiewicz, who won the German indoor title in a European-leading 7.79 last weekend.

As Storl faces home star Kolasinac in the shot put, his German teammate Claudia Salman-Rath will be up against Serbia's No. 1 athlete in defending champion Ivana Spanovic in the long jump.

The pair are the top two in Europe – Spanovic with 6.87m and Salman-Rath with 6.76m – while her teammate Alexandra Wester is fourth on the rankings with 6.71m.

And as the men's defending shot put champion is back, so too is the women's gold medallist from Prague as Hungary's Anita Marton will seek another title after winning in sensational style in 2015 with a last round 19.23m to beat Belarusian Yuliya Leantsiuk, who led with 18.60m.

Hungary's other big hope will be in the 60m hurdles as Balazs Baji, who won 110m hurdles silver in Amsterdam, will want a podium spot once more.

The Danish team is made up of four men and two women and includes an athlete who had the most sensational of summers, Sara Slott Petersen.

In a matter of weeks she gained notoriety within the sport by winning European 400m hurdles gold in Amsterdam (55.12) before breaking the national record with 53.55 to win silver at the Olympics in Rio.

She will compete in the 400m which will be some event as it includes fellow 400m hurdler Zuzana Hejnova, of the Czech Republic, and Switzerland’s European No. 1 Lea Sprunger.

In Turin in 2009, Estonia's Ksenija Balta won long jump gold with 6.87m and not only will she be in Belgrade with an aim of regaining that title, she is also entered in the 60m.