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 Shot Put: Ryan Crouser Goes For His First World Title
Final on Saturday at 1:40 p.m. ET
Given how dominant Ryan Crouser has been at the global level for the past two years, it’s easy to forget that he’s never won a gold medal at a world championship. The world record holder and two-time Olympic champion is heavily favored to change that when he steps into the ring in Belgrade. He has competed just twice indoors this season. His Millrose Games world record* was voided after a technical error by officials. He won the U.S. Indoor Championships with a 22.51m throw, which is the world-leading mark.
Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki sits at No. 2 in the world with his 21.91m throw from the World Indoor Tour meet in Madrid on March 2. However, Bukowiecki lost to Croatia’s Filip Mihaljević at the Orlen Cup in Torun earlier in the season. As the #2 and #3 seeds, both will be in medal contention.
Do not forget about New Zealand’s Tom Walsh, the reigning World Indoor champion since 2016. This will be his indoor season opener, since he’s been competing outdoors at home and notched a 21.55m season’s best to win his 12th national title on March 5. If Walsh ends up on the podium, it will be his eighth global championship medal.
Women’s Shot Put: Get To Know Auriol Dongmo
Final on Friday at 1:55 p.m. ET
Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo is looking to add ‘world champion’ to her resume after winning the 2021 European indoor championship and taking fourth at the Tokyo Olympics. She is undefeated on the season and improved upon her world-leading time each meet. She threw a national record and personal best of 19.90m at the Portuguese national indoor championships last month. On March 12, her 19.68m throw at the European Throwing Cup set the bar as the early outdoor world-leading mark.
The U.S. medal hopes rest on the shoulders of Maggie Ewen, who sits at No. 2 in the world with her 19.79m throw to win the U.S. Indoor Championships. Ewen is looking for her first world championship medal. She looks to be just the second American woman to win the World Indoor Championships since Michelle Carter’s gold in 2016.
Don’t count out veteran Christina Schwanitz, the four-time global medalist and 2015 world champion in the event. Funnily enough, her Wikipedia page refers to her as a “retired German shot putter” despite the fact that she’s competed three times this year, most recently finishing third at the German national championships in a season’s best of 18.49m. She’ll be a long shot to medal, but championship experience goes a long way at these events.
Men’s High Jump: The Return of Gianmarco Tamberi
Final on Sunday at 5:45 a.m. ET
The last time most people saw Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi was when he dunked in the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game last month. Before that, many fans cheered his and Mutaz Barshim’s decision to share the gold medal in Tokyo, a true highlight of the 2021 Olympics. He has not competed this indoor season but is entered in the meet and plans to compete, according to his Wednesday afternoon Instagram post. This will be his first meet since winning the Diamond League title in Zurich last September.
If he’s rusty, the gold medal hopes turn to South Korea’s Woo Sang-Hyeok to possibly win the nation’s first-ever world indoor championship medal. He was fourth in the Tokyo Olympics and is poised to break into the medals with the best jump on the entry list, the world-leading mark of 2.36m. He was the World Youth champion in 2013 and then a World Junior bronze medalist in 2014.
New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr, who has an incredible Instagram name as TheRealFlyingKiwi, enters with his 2022 outdoor best of 2.30m. He’s got a good shot at a medal as 5 of the 6 men over 2.30m indoors this year are not competing.
Women’s High Jump: Root For Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh
Final on Saturday at 6 a.m. ET
Australia’s Eleanor Patterson enters this one with the 1.99m world lead from a Feb. 15 meet in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. She also picked up wins at the World Indoor Tour stops in Birmingham and Madrid. On paper, she’s the favorite – especially since Olympic champion and three-time world champion Mariya Lasitskene is barred from competing due World Athletics’ ban of authorized neutral athletes from Russia following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.
Yaroslava Mahuchikh was last year’s European indoor champion and claimed a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She is one of six Ukrainian athletes competing in Belgrade. Her season’s best is 1.96m, a four-way tie for #2 seed, but the world will surely be cheering her on to medal as she represents her home nation. On Instagram, she was vocal about stopping the IOC from allowing Russian and Belarussian athletes from competing at the Paralympics. A medal of any sorts for Mahuchikh would be a nice moment to briefly celebrate during an extremely difficult period of her life.
U.S. champion Vashti Cunningham, who earned a silver medal in 2018, is not competing at Worlds.
Men’s Pole Vault: The Mondo Duplantis Show
Final on Sunday at 12:17 p.m. ET
Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis of Sweden just broke his own world record by clearing 6.19m to solidify himself as the gold medal favorite. U.S. champion and Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen will try and pull off an upset to cap a stellar indoor season that has seen him breaking the U.S. indoor record twice, resulting in a new lifetime best of 6.05m. K.C. Lightfoot, the U.S. Championship runner-up, has the No. 3 mark in the world with a 5.95 win in Dortmund on Feb. 12.
Duplantis is not unbeatable – pole vault is a famously finicky event and off days do happen. However, his last loss indoors was three years and 21 competitions ago, so for another vaulter to emerge victorious, he would have to have a pretty bad outing.
Women’s Pole Vault: Sandi Morris vs. Katie Nageotte Again
Final on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET
U.S. champion Sandi Morris is the favorite for gold as Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova and Polina Knoroz are banned from competing. Morris is looking to defend her gold medal from 2018. Her strong results in 2022 have made it clear she’s put her 2021 disappointment and injury past her. She won the Millrose Games and then the U.S. title to show she’s back in that 2018-2019 top form.
Her training partner, Olympic champion Katie Nageotte, is coming back around at the right time. She cleared 4.80m in Lievin and then took second at the U.S. championships. It wouldn’t be shocking to see a U.S. 1-2 if both vaulters remain healthy.
Slovenia’s Tina Sutej was fifth in Tokyo and has been competing well this indoor season with a national record of 4.80m in Rouen on March 5. Watch for her as well. The fifth seed in this competition is 34-year-old veteran Yarisley Silva of Cuba, a five-time global medalist going back to her silver at the 2012 Olympics. The shallower-than-normal field could help her add to her medal count.
Men’s Long Jump: Miltiadis Tentoglou Wants Gold Again
Final on Friday at 2:05 p.m. ET
Last summer’s Olympic long jump competition was thrilling. We saw Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou equal Cuban star Juan Miguel Echevarria’s 8.41m jump on their final try, so the title came down to the second-best jumps by each athlete and Tentoglou had a 8.11m mark that gave him the win. Tentoglou is also the man to watch this weekend since he has a 8.25m season’s best, the top seed and #2 in the world this year. Switzerland’s Simon Ehammer has the world-leading mark of 8.26m but is not competing.
Sweden’s Thobias Montler isn’t too far off with a 8.23m SB. The U.S. duo of Jarrion Lawson and 2016 world indoor champion and 2018 bronze medalist Marquise Dendy are also medal contenders if they can jump close to their personal bests.
Women’s Long Jump: A Win For The Home Crowd?
Final on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET
Each time out at the World Indoor Championships, Ivana Vuleta (nee Španović) of Serbia has improved upon her previous finish. She earned bronze in 2014, silver in 2016 and then gold in 2018. But it can’t get better than gold, so she’s got to defend her title. She has the #1 mark in the world with a 6.88m win from the World Indoor Tour stop at this very same venue on March 7. The stadium will be electric if she can win in front of a home crowd.
Nigerian star Ese Brume is entered in the meet as well. She was the Olympic bronze medalist in the event but has yet to compete since running in the heats of the 4x100m relay in Tokyo.
The American hopes will be with U.S. champion and Olympian Quanesha Burks, who just signed a partnership deal with McDonald’s.
Men’s Triple Jump: Donald Scott vs. Will Claye?
Final on Friday at 7:10 a.m.
The U.S. Championships saw quite the battle between Donald Scott, Chris Carter and Will Claye. In Spokane, Scott claimed his third U.S. indoor title and is looking for his first global championship medal. He was sixth at the 2019 World Championships and seventh at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
Claye, who heads to Serbia as the reigning champion, is still looking to regain his pop. His season’s best is 16.63m from his third place finish at the U.S. championships, more than a meter off his personal best. Carter opted not to go to Worlds, so Claye’s shot at a title defense and a third indoor gold is alive.
Lázaro Martínez of Cuba is a young star to watch. At 24 years old, he was eighth at the Tokyo Olympics and sits at No. 2 in the world with his 17.21m personal best from Lievin.
Women’s Triple Jump: Make It Three, Yulimar!
Final on Sunday at 6 a.m. ET
Olympic champion and world record holder Yulimar Rojas is one of the most entertaining athletes on the circuit. She’s done it all. She has won the last two world indoor titles and owns the indoor world record. She won the 2021 Olympic title and broke the outdoor world record at the Games. She hasn’t been defeated indoors since Feb. 2019.
Normally “triple jump final at 6 a.m. on a Sunday” doesn’t scream must-see TV. But Rojas competing is always a sight to see and one of the underrated gems of our sport right now. She’s energetic and engaging when she jumps, not afraid to show joy or frustration after an effort and always ready to hype up the crowd. Her season’s best of 15.41m is only 2 centimeters shy of her world indoor record from 2020. At 26 years old, she is smack in the middle of her prime. If you can set an alarm and chug a cup of coffee, you might just be rewarded with a historic performance.