A busy and extensive calendar of World Athletics Indoor Tour meetings commences again on Saturday (22) with the BoXX United Manchester World Indoor Tour.
Despite the continuing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Manchester World Indoor Tour is one of 21 Silver and Bronze events - along with five Gold events - which are scheduled to take place across Europe this winter in the build-up to the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade from 18-20 March.
The European calendar is composed of 14 World Indoor Tour Silver meetings and seven World Indoor Tour Bronze meetings all of which are administered by European Athletics. The full calendar can be found here.
The World Indoor Tour offers not only an increased number of competitive opportunities for athletes at a high level but also qualification and ranking points for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon and the European Athletics Championships in Munich this summer as well as prize money of almost 400,000 euros across the 21 meetings.
Some of the biggest names in the sport including gold medallists from the Torun 2021 European Athletics Indoor Tour and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have already been confirmed for the 14 Silver meetings.
Expected highlights of the Manchester World Indoor Tour include the women’s pole vault featuring European silver medallist Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou from Greece, the men’s shot put which includes 22 metre-plus performer Bob Bertemes from Luxembourg and European indoor silver medallist Fanny Roos from Sweden against Chase Ealey from the United States in the women’s shot put.
The shot put will also take centre stage one week later at the Hvezdy v Nehvizdech meeting just outside the Czech capital Prague on 30 January.
European indoor champion Tomas Stanek will face a world class field in the men’s shot out including Croatia’s Filip Mihaljevic and Serbia’s Armin Sinancevic with non-European opposition coming from Brazil’s Olympic fourth-placer Darlan Romani.
European indoor 60m champion Ajla Del Ponte from Switzerland will line up at the Czech Indoor Gala on 3 February which will also be highlighted by two excellent 400m races.
Del Ponte’s Dutch training partner Lieke Klaver takes on Poles Anna Kielbasinska and Iga Baumgart-Witan as well as Czech favourite Lada Vondrova. In the men’s 400m, Olympic finalist Liemarvin Bonevacia faces a strong Czech contingent including Michal Desensky, Jan Tesar and Vit Muller.
Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs from Italy is due to race for the first time since his double triumph at the Tokyo Olympics over 60m at the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin on 4 February. Jacobs is planning a full indoor season and he is also scheduled to race one week later at the Orlen Cup in Lodz on 11 February.
Fellow Olympic champion Armand Duplantis is also due to compete at the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin, the city where he sprang to senior stardom with a 6.05m clearance at the 2018 European Championships, and Olympic, European and world long jump champion Malaika Mihambo is also confirmed for the 60m.
Another Olympic and European indoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou from Greece is one of the first big names to be confirmed for the Meeting Metz Moselle Athlelor on 12 February.
The focus of attention will stay in France for the Meeting de l’Eure in Val-de-Reuil on 14 February. Leading French hurdlers Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Aurel Manga will face Spain’s 2016 Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega in the 60m hurdles while world decathlon record-holder Kevin Mayer is due to compete in individual events.
As is customary, strong high jump fields are being assembled for the Banskobystricka Latka on 15 February. On the road to Munich 2022, reigning European champion Mateusz Przybylko from Germany takes on an international cast which includes European indoor champion and Olympic bronze medallist Maksim Nedasekau from Belarus, US jumpers JuVaughn Harrison and Shelby McEwen, Cuba’s Luis Zayas and Olympic fourth-placer Woo Sang-Hyeok from South Korea.
Olympic bronze medallist Yaroslava Mahuchikh from Ukraine has also just been confirmed by the organisers for the women’s competition. Mahuchikh soared over 2.06m in last year’s event en route to the European indoor title in Torun. Her addition to the field sets up a tantalising head-to-head with Nicola McDermott from Australia who won Olympic silver in Tokyo.
The World Indoor Tour continues with Silver events in Aubiere (19 February), Dusseldorf (20 February), Rouen (5 March), Paris (6 March) before concluding in Belgrade on 7 March, the last significant stop on the European circuit ahead of the World Indoor Championships which will also take place in the Serbian capital.
At the Belgrade Indoor Meeting last year, Armand Duplantis produced one of the highlights of the indoor season with a 6.10m clearance, a height which has only been surpassed by Sergey Bubka, Renaud Lavillenie and Duplantis himself.
More details about the World Indoor Tour Silver and Bronze events can be found here.