It’s been four years since we’ve had the chance to watch a World Indoor Championship. The last time medals were handed out was in 2018 in Birmingham (UK) but that will all change this weekend in Belgrade, Serbia. Multiple Olympic champions from Tokyo will be in action, and there will also be a slew of athletes looking to make their mark as stars to watch ahead of this summer’s World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Men’s 60m: Marcell Jacobs vs. Christian Coleman
Final on Saturday at 4:20 p.m. ET
As I’ve previously written about throughout the indoor season, Christian Coleman’s return to the track after serving a suspension for whereabouts failures has been building toward a head-to-head battle with Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs.
Last summer, Jacobs stunned the track world with his win in Tokyo but after the question of “Who is this guy?” got asked, it was soon after followed up with: “What if Christian Coleman was in that race?” This Saturday, we’ll get a semblance of an answer. Coleman is the reigning World Indoor and Outdoor champion and enters with the world-leading time of 6.45. Jacobs has not lost a race this indoor season but was disqualified from a 60m race on March 7 for a false start.
Marvin Bracy, who joined the CITIUS MAG Podcast after his runner-up finish at the U.S. Indoor Championships, tied his personal best with a 6.48 for the No. 3 world time. He’s looking to make it a U.S. 1-2 for the first time since 2001 and add to a medal collection that already contains a World Indoor silver from 2014.
Women’s 60m: Can Ewa Swoboda Do It On The Big Stage?
Final on Friday at 3:55 p.m. ET
Poland’s Ewa Swoboda has been one of the biggest stars of the 2022 indoor season after running 6.99 to win the Polish national championships in Torun. The European indoor champion is the only woman to break 7 seconds in the event this year. She first staked her claim to the short-sprint throne when she beat double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah in Torun on Feb 22. She hasn’t competed at a global championship since 2019, where she missed the final in the 100m at the Doha world championships. She’s looking to put a string of bad luck in the rearview mirror after missing the 2021 European Indoor Championships due to a positive COVID test and sitting out the Tokyo Olympics with an injury.
Team USA is sending a strong duo in U.S. champion Mikiah Brisco (7.07 SB) and Marybeth Sant-Price (7.04 SB). Their seasons’ bests sit at #2 and #4 on the entry list, so they’ll be in the medal hunt.
Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji is the only returning medalist from 2018. She earned a bronze medal in 2018. Her 7.05 season’s best puts her at No. 5 in the world for the year.
Men’s 400 Meters: A D2 Star Favored For Gold?
Final on Saturday at 3:10 p.m. ET
The star power of this event took a hit this year with a number of Olympians opting to skip the World Indoor Championships and other world-class sprinters still in the NCAA. We just saw North Carolina’s A&T’s Randolph Ross (also a 2021 U.S. Olympian) win the NCAA championships in 44.62. There’s a good chance the winning time at Worlds is slower. U.S. indoor champion Trevor Bassitt has a season’s best of 45.75 for No. 8 in the world and he’s one of the favorites. This weekend, he’s upgrading his Ashland University kit to a Team USA jersey. If you read his recent interview in The Lap Count, you’ll find an extra reason or two to root for him.
“I’ve always kind of gone by the philosophy that it’s not about running a personal best; it’s about who crosses the line first,” Bassitt said. “The goal is to leave there with two gold medals and if I run fast times with it, awesome. If not, I won two World Championships.”
Liemarvin Bonevacia of the Netherlands could be the person to upset Bassitt. He ran 45.48 to win the Dutch national championships and enters as the #1 seed. He was a member of The Netherlands’ 4x400m relay team that took silver at the Tokyo Olympics. At 32, he’s looking to finally add an individual world championship medal.
Big props to Pavel Maslak who heads to the world championships as a longshot for a fourth-consecutive World Indoor title. His season’s best of 46.70 was good for second at the Czech national championships.
Women’s 400 Meters: Shaunae Miller-Uibo vs. Femke Bol
Final on Saturday at 2:50 p.m. ET
One of the best parts of professional indoor track is the chance to see stars from other events thrive in new disciplines. Dutch star Femke Bol has proven that she’s not just a great 400m hurdler (2021 Olympic bronze medalist). She’s been undefeated in the indoor 400m for the past two years, including winning gold for the 2021 European indoor title. Her 50.30 is the world-leading time heading into the world championships.
Yet few people would call her the favorite. That’s because Shaunae Miller-Uibo heads to Belgrade to defend her ground as the world’s best 400 meter runner. The two-time Olympic champion has not raced this indoor season so her fitness is a bit of an unknown. But you can never doubt that she will show up to a championship ready.
Major credit to both women just for showing up – as decorated Olympians who will surely be in the hunt for outdoor titles, they would typically be good candidates to skip World Indoors. The tighter turns also don’t favor taller athletes, and Bol (6’0”) and Miller-Uibo (6’1”) are both among the tallest long sprinters currently active. Kudos for representing your nation and toeing the line.
The United States has not missed a podium in the women’s 400m since 2006. Lynna Irby is the best shot for a medal after winning the U.S. Indoor Championships. She has a season’s best of 51.88 and a personal best of 49.80 outdoors.
Men’s 60m Hurdles: Grant Holloway World Record Watch
Final on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET
Grant Holloway has never lost a 60m hurdles race in his career. He’s the world record holder and enters as the world leader with a season’s best of 7.35 from the World Indoor Tour Meeting in Lievin. He’s been ramping it up each meet with the hopes of throwing down a big mark at the World Indoor Championships. The world record is 7.29, held by… Grant Holloway.
France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde would be the best bet for a possible upset. He has two World Indoor championship silver medals and one bronze in his career. His season’s best of 7.46 is No. 3 in the world behind Holloway and NCAA champion Trey Cunningham of Florida State.
Women’s 60m Hurdles: Danielle Williams Looks To End Jamaican Drought
Final on Saturday at 4:05 p.m. ET
It’s been more than two decades since Jamaica has had a medalist in the women’s 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships, but the odds look good this year. Danielle Williams looks to become the first Jamaican 60m hurdles medalist since Michelle Freeman in 2001. Freeman was also the last Jamaican to win gold in 1997. Williams, the 2015 world champion in the 100m hurdles, is heading into Belgrade undefeated with the world-leading time of 7.75, and the #2 entrant is her countrywoman, Britany Anderson.
Florida’s Grace Stark tied the collegiate record of 7.78 to win the NCAA title in this event but did not contest the U.S. Championships. Team USA will be represented by Gabbi Cunningham, who was 7th in the 100m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics, and Alaysha Johnson. Cunningham enters with the same PB as Anderson, so if she delivers a par performance, she’ll be in the medal hunt as well.