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Can anyone stop Dafne Schippers? That is the question which lingers over the battle for sprint supremacy in Portland, with the Dutch speedster a worthy favourite to take her first title at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
The men’s 400m promises another mouth-watering final with top quarter-milers ready to show their speed and tactics over the two-lap race.
Quanera Hayes and Ashley Spencer showed just how fast the Portland track could be when they finished first and second at the US Indoor Championships on Saturday in 51.09 and 51.29 to make themselves the favourites for the third consecutive US gold medal in this event.
Two years ago in Sopot, Poland, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia spoiled the party for the hosts, defeating home favourites Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski to take gold in the men’s 800m and become – at 18 years, 61 days – the youngest ever champion at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Because she has already achieved so much, it is easy to forget that USA’s Ajee Wilson is still only 21 years old.
All three medallists from the IAAF World Indoor Championships Sopot 2014 will be in Portland: defending champion Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti, Ethiopia’s Aman Wote and Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider, who won the indoor crown in 2012.
In the absence of world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba – who has chosen to focus on the 3000m – the path appears clear for one of her Ethiopian teammates to step into the breach and take gold. To do so, however, they will have to overcome the formidable challenge of a former compatriot: Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.
Thanks to Augustine Choge’s overall win in the IAAF World Indoor Tour, Kenya will be able to field three men in this event and there is certainly a possibility of a clean sweep..
Such has been the supremacy of Genzebe Dibaba in recent years that her races have developed a sense of inevitability, one that – despite the presence of four-time world indoor champion Meseret Defar in Portland – appears to be the case ahead of the women’s 3000m final on Sunday afternoon.
Portland may well be a third time lucky for Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. Bronze medallist in 2012 and runner-up in 2014, the tall Frenchman hopes to finally achieve the first 60m hurdles gold for his country since Stephane Caristan won at the World Indoor Games in Paris in 1985.
With US athletes occupying 11 of the top 14 spots on the 2016 world list, it’s highly likely the hosts will have a gold medal – and possibly even a clean sweep of the medals – to celebrate when the final takes place on Friday night.
The extrovert Italian Gianmarco Tamberi leads the world lists with his 2.38m national record that he cleared in Hustopece and he is unbeaten in all four of his competitions this winter, never jumping less than 2.33m..
European champion Ruth Beitia already has the accolade of being the oldest ever medallist in this event after her bronze in Sopot two years ago and the 36-year-old Spaniard could well extend that statistic in Portland following her 1.98m clearance at the Spanish Championships last month.
For world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie, victory at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2012 proved a pivotal step on his path to Olympic gold.
Even with the absence of world indoor and outdoor champion Yarisley Silva, the women’s pole vault is set to be one of the most exciting events this weekend in Portland.
USA’s Marquis Dendy will head to the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 seeking redemption.
The women’s long jump promises to be one of the most competitive field events this weekend in Portland.
Dong Bin will try to make history in Portland as he aims to become the third Chinese athlete to win a world indoor title.
Yulimar Rojas, still just 20, has caught the eye this winter with a world-leading mark of 14.69m in January and then 14.63m last month, both competitions coming in Madrid but at different venues.
US putters have won this event at the past six championships so there is considerable pressure on their representatives to continue this streak, especially on home territory.