IAAF World Indoor Championships Istanbul 2012, Women’s Events Preview
Istanbul, Turkey – With just three days to go before the start of the 2012Ã‚Â IAAF World Indoor Championships, Istanbul, Turkey (9-11 March), here is a preview spotlighting some of the highlights expected this weekend in the women’s events.
Genzebe Dibaba has been streets ahead of the opposition so far this indoor season and starts a clear favourite to prosper in Turkey. The younger sister of Ethiopian distance running great, Tirunesh, has recorded the fastest two times in the world this year with 4:00.13 in Karlsruhe and 4:01.33 in Birmingham and the 21-year-old will be keen to prove she can also deliver in the unforgiving major championship environment.
Her teenage compatriot, Tizita Bogale, who earned noteworthy top three finishes in Stockholm and Lievin, is another with medal aspirations.
The Moroccans may present DibabaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s main threat led by Stockholm winner Btissam Lakhouad (4:07.80), the fourth place finisher at the 2011 IAAF World Championships.
Her compatriot Mariam Selsouli (4:03.67), the 2008 World Indoor 3000m bronze medallist and a third Moroccan Siham Hilali (4:04.53) stand No.2 and No.3 on the World Lists, respectively, but have yet to decide whether to compete in the 1500m or 3000m.
The reigning Russian and European Indoor champion Elena Arzhakova (4:09.43) is another whose medal claims should be respected. Other significant entrants include: Ukrainian record holder Anzhelika Shevchenko (4:06.78), PolandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Angelika Cichocka (4:07.83) and TurkeyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Asli Cakir, the World University Games 1500m champion.
In the womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 3000m Ethiopian superstar Meseret Defar is hoping to become the first woman in history to land a fifth successive individual World Indoor title.
The Ethiopian great has held an iron-like grip on this 3000m title since 2004 and if she successfully retain this crown in Istanbul she will match the achievement of CubaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ivan Pedroso, who landed five back to back World Indoor gold medals in the MenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Long Jump from 1993-2001.
So far this season all the evidence points towards a Defar quintuple. She holds the two fastest times in the world this year and her crushing victory in Birmingham in a world lead 8:31.56 suggests she will the woman to beat.
She is joined on the Ethiopian team by the 2008 World Indoor 1500m champion Gelete Burka, who set a seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best 8:36.59 in Birmingham.
Kenya will be determined to wreck DefarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ambitions and in Hellen Obiri and Sylvia Kibet they have two strong contenders. Obiri, who tripped and fell in the 2011 World Championships final in the 1500m, clocked an impressive 8:35.35 for second in Birmingham behind Defar and will be out to overturn that result. Kibet (8:43.54) the 2011 World Championships 5000m silver medallist, also boasts top class pedigree.
Morocco may also provide a strong challenge. The 2010 World Indoor bronze medallist Mariem Selsouli posted a swift 8:36.87 to win in Karlsruhe and watch out for her team-mate Siham Hilali (8:46.17). Note, both have yet to make a decision on whether to run the 1500m or 3000m.