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Wednesday, 24 April 2024
Star line-up as Lyles, Duplantis test Olympic waters at world indoors

Star line-up as Lyles, Duplantis test Olympic waters at world indoors

Sports Desk

Noah Lyles, Karsten Warholm, Mondo Duplantis and Femke Bol head a star-studded line-up at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow as the best from track and field take an important first step towards the Paris Olympics.

While the bigger goal might be gold in the French capital, the presence of high-profile athletes in Scotland ensures an early marker of form just 50 days into the year and five months out from the Olympics.

Some 651 athletes (331 women and 320 men) from 133 countries are entered for the 26 events at the March 1-3 world indoors, including 13 reigning individual world champions and seven individual gold medallists from the Tokyo Olympics.

There will be no representation from Russia, banned from track and field over its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow's close ally Belarus are similarly banned.

Newly-crowned US 60m champion Lyles looks set for a battle with teammate Christian Coleman, who won silver behind Italy's Marcell Jacobs two years ago in Belgrade.

Lyles is targeting four gold medals this year, an ambitious plan that starts with the 60m on Friday and continues with the 100, 200 and 4x100m relay at the Paris Olympics.

"World lead, meet record," Lyles said after winning in Boston in 6.44sec, improved by one-hundredth at the national championships.

"My confidence has now skyrocketed. Now let's go out there and get a world indoor medal in Glasgow."

Jacobs will not be defending his title, and Lyles and Coleman can be sure to be under pressure from Jamaica's Ackeem Blake and Kenya's Ferdinand Omanyala.

Olympic champion Duplantis has for years looked untouchable in the men's pole vault, setting a world record when winning gold in Belgrade -- one of three set at those 2022 world champs.

The US-born Swede comes to Glasgow with a season-best of 6.02m, far from his world record of 6.23m.

Duplantis, however, is a competitor who thrives on the biggest stages and it would be a brave person to bet against the two-time world outdoor champion clinching a second indoor title to add to his incredible medal haul.

- Warholm, Bol go flat -

Norway's Warholm, the world record holder, three-time outdoor champion and Olympic gold medallist in the 400m hurdles, will run the 400m flat.

Like Duplantis, the 28-year-old Norwegian searches out competition, likely to come in the shape of defending champion Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago.

Mimicking Warholm, Dutch 400m hurdler Femke Bol -- the reigning double world outdoor champion -- will also compete in the 400m, fresh from having broken her own world indoor record of 49.24sec.

But Bol was not confident that a new record could be set in Glasgow, citing the need to race twice in one day.

"The field of participants is stronger, so there is a greater chance of getting in each other's way," she added.

"Thats what makes indoor athletics beautiful, but it also means that the best times are not always achieved."

American Grant Holloway, also fresh from eclipsing his own world record in the 60m hurdles earlier this month, is on an incredible streak of 60 indoor victories and currently looks unstoppable.

British hopes ride on a strong Scottish contingent within the British team.

World outdoors 1500m gold medallist Josh Kerr -- fresh from a new world record of 8:00.67 in the indoor two-mile -- runs the 3000m, where he will be up against American Yared Nuguse and the Ethiopian pair of Selemon Barega, the Olympic 10,000m champion, and Getnet Wale.

Jemma Reekie goes in the 800m and Laura Muir in the 3000m, although the latter will be up against Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay, the reigning world 1500m indoor champion who has picked up a vast array of medals across multiple distances.

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