3/1/2018 10:16:29 AM

All eyes on Coleman at world indoors

All eyes on Coleman at world indoors

Birmingham, United Kingdom: All eyes will be firmly set on Christian Coleman at the IAAF World Indoor Championships just seven months after the rising US star claimed world outdoor 100m silver ahead of the now-retired Usain Bolt.

Qatar's hopes will firmly rest on the shoulders of Mutaz Essa Barshim and the 2017 IAAF world male athlete of the year will be in action at Birmingham on Thursday.

The 26-year-old leapt a world-leading 2.38m at the Asian Indoor Championships last month for his fifth consecutive Asian indoor title and will be hoping to regain the title he last won at Sopot in 2014. 

Coleman, 21, comes into the meet in Birmingham, England, having set a new world indoor record for the 60m, blasting to victory in an altitude-assisted 6.34sec at the US championships in Albuquerque last month.

Coleman's time shaved 0.05sec off the existing world indoor record set by fellow American Maurice Greene in Madrid in 1998.

The American was initially believed to have broken Greene's 60m record at a meeting in Clemson, South Carolina, on January 19, where he clocked 6.37sec.

However, that time was not ratified because the meeting at which took place was not using electronic starting blocks.

"I wanted to go get it, but it pretty much felt like a blur," Coleman said of the record.

"I just wanted to be the first to get to the finish line. I had put in a lot of work on my start, so it feels pretty good to do it."

In the absence of Jamaican Bolt, Coleman insisted he was not getting carried away.

"I have to continue to work hard and stay focused on task in hand," he said.

A sure showing at the Birmingham Arena would confirm Coleman as the first sprint phenomenon of the post-Bolt era.

Coleman's main rivals will include American teammates Ronnie Baker and Michael Rodgers, as well as China's Su Bingtian, who set a 6.50 stadium record in Glasgow on Sunday, as well as Olympic 100m finalist Ben Youssef Meite of the Ivory Coast.

The women's 60m sees Meite's compatriot Marie Josee Ta Lou as one of the big favourites following victories in Torun and Glasgow.

The 29-year-old world outdoor 100m and 200m silver medallist has been in consistent fine form all winter and sped to a season's best of 7.07sec in Scotland last weekend.

American Javianne Oliver, who leads the world rankings with 7.02sec, will push her all the way, while Jamaican Elaine Thompson, defending Olympic double sprint champion, has not come close to the 6.98sec she ran last indoor season.

But after finishing third in Glasgow in 7.12sec, Thompson should be capable of providing a challenge for a podium placing.

European hopes will likely rest on the shoulders of Germany's Tatjana Pinto and Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, the two-time world outdoor 200m champion who won silver medal in 2016.

One of the best fields to be assembled in Birmingham is in the men's pole vault, with no fewer than nine men owning season's bests of 5.88m or better.

Seven vaulters cleared that height at the All Stars meeting in Clermont-Ferrand at the end of February which was won by American world outdoor champion Sam Kendricks (5.93m).

France's world record-holder Renauld Lavillenie, Olympic champion in London in the 2012 Games, is the defending world indoor champion, having vaulted a championship record of 6.02m to take the title in Portland two years ago.

The impressive line-up also includes Poland's world silver medallist Piotr Lisek, Brazil's Olympic champion Thiago Braz, Germany's 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe, Poland's 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski and Sweden's world under-20 record holder Armand Duplantis

Back on the track, Ethiopian running sensation Genzebe Dibaba will go for glory in both the 1500 and 3000m, in which she holds the world indoor records. She won the former back in 2012 before picking up the last two world indoor 3000m titles and it would take a brave person to bet on the Ethiopian to do the double.

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