European Indoor Athletics Championships: Global stars to watch

Held behind closed doors, the upcoming European Indoor Athletics Championships in Torun will certainly be unique.

With the Tokyo Olympics rescheduled for this summer, several stars have decided to skip this event, instead focusing on outdoor training ahead of the Olympics in July and August.

The likes of Karsten Warholm and Mariya Lasitskene, who are yet to win medals at the Olympics, are just two of the high-profile withdrawals from the Championships, which starts tomorrow.

Three-time defending long jump champion Ivana Spanovic has also withdrawn due to injury, but there are still several notable names to look out for, including arguably the sport’s biggest star at the moment.

Pole vaulter Armand Duplantis twice broke the pole vault world record in the indoor season last year before COVID-19 struck, and the Swede has continued his strong form since the resumption of athletics to become the dominant force in the event.

Duplantis is just 21 and victory in Torun would be just his second major senior title, having won at the European Athletics Championships in 2018, though it is by no means a certainty that he will win gold.

Former Olympic champion and previous world record holder Renauld Lavillenie recently recorded his highest vault in over six years, and will be looking to win a fifth title at the event, though he hasn’t won the title since 2015.

Lavilllenie’s fellow Frenchman Kevin Mayer is another star to look out for, with the decathlon world record holder looking to win heptathlon gold in Torun.

Mayer has not won a global title since the World Indoor Championships in 2018, and will be hoping to return to the podium as he looks to regain the title he won in Belgrade four years ago.

Another multi-eventer looking to regain the title they last won four years ago is Nafissatou Thiam, who will be going for pentathlon gold this weekend.

The Belgian is one of the greatest multi-eventers in history, having won Olympic gold as well as World and European titles both indoors and outdoors, and in the absence of defending champion and main rival Katarina Johnson-Thompson, she is the heavy favourite for the title.

Another name to look out for is Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who will be competing alongside his brother Filip in both the 1500m and 3000m.

Just 20 years old, Ingebrigtsen is the defending champion in the latter and is the favourite to win gold in both events as he looks to extend his recent dominance in European middle-distance running. 

The Norwegian’s biggest rival in the 1500m will be defending champion Marcin Lewandowski, who is leading the home Polish charge at the event.

Poland have topped the medal table at the past two Championships though have been dealt a blow with defending women’s 60m champion Eva Swoboda ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19. 

The European Indoor Athletics Championships will take place this weekend, with live coverage on the BBC.

Featured image credit: Arian Zwegers via Creative Commons 2.0 License

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