Three Olympic champions and one world champion are among the principal stars in action at the ISTAF Indoor, a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting, which takes place in the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin before a crowd of 12,500 spectators on Friday (14).
One of the headline acts is reigning world and European champion Malaika Mihambo from Germany who competes in the long jump. Mihambo won twelve months ago with a meeting record of 6.99m and she is looking to add even more distance to this mark tomorrow evening
“That’s my goal,” Mihambo confirmed at the pre-event press conference. “Seven metres has definitely got to be a priority also for indoors. Being so close to the spectators makes ISTAF Indoors unique for athletes and fans alike.”
If Mihambo achieves that, she will become the first female jumper to surpass seven metres this year. The world lead currently belongs to Ukraine’s Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk who recorded a lifetime best of 6.96m in Torun on Saturday.
Bekh-Romanchuk will be competing in Glasgow the following day but Mihambo, who was named Germany’s Sportswoman of the Year in 2019, still faces strong opposition including fellow major medal winners Ese Brume from Nigeria and Belarusian Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova.
Brume won a bronze medal behind Mihambo at the World Athletics Championships and Mironchyk-Ivanova came away with a silver medal at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships, the only competition which Mihambo did not win last year.
Despite the withdrawal of Poland’s Piotr Lisek who has ended his indoor season because of injury, the men’s pole vault is still packed with talent and the line-up is headed by the last two Olympic champions: Renaud Lavillenie from France and Brazil’s Thiago Braz.
Lavillenie won at this meeting five years ago with a 6.02m clearance. He opened his account this year with victories in Bordeaux and Karlsruhe although he did no-height in his last competition in Rouen on the same night Armand Duplantis broke his world record with 6.17m in Torun.
There will be more than one Lavillenie to contend with since Valentin, younger brother of the 2012 Olympic champion, will also compete.
Last year’s winners in the women’s 60m and 60m hurdles will also be in action. Great Britain’s Kristal Awuah faces home favourites Lisa Marie Kwayie and Lisa Mayer in the 60m while Pamela Dutkiewicz faces reigning European indoor champion Nadine Visser from the Netherlands, former European and outdoor champion Cindy Roleder in the 100m hurdles and Tobi Amusan from Nigeria, who has clocked 7.84 this season, in the 60m hurdles.
As is customary, the programme concludes with the indoor discus which keeps with the Battle of the Sexes format which was successfully implemented for the first time last year. Last year’s winner Nadine Muller will be looking for a repeat victory against a strong men’s quartet which features Olympic champion Christoph Harting and Romania’s world fourth placer Alin Alexandru Firfirica.
"I am looking forward to the second edition of the discus duel," said Muller. "The ISTAF Indoor simply gives you goosebumps feeling - you can't compare it to any other meeting."
At the Meeting de l'Eure in Val-de-Reuil on Friday (14), there are intriguing all-European duels in the 60m hurdles and triple jump. Greece's European champion Paraskevi Papahristou faces the previous holder of the title Patricia Mamona from Portugal in the triple jump and joint world bronze medallists Pascal Martinot-Lagarde from France and Spain's Orlando Ortega will go head-to-head in the 60m hurdles.
European 100m hurdles champion Elvira Herman from Belarus faces Evonne Britton from the United States and Ukraine's Hanna Plotitsyna in the 60m hurdles.