Birmingham World Athletics Indoor Tour Final Preview

Posted by: Watch Athletics

Global medallists Gudaf Tsegay, Grant Holloway, Laura Muir, Dina Asher Smith, Keely Hodgkinson and Shericka Jackson will headline the World Indoor Tour Final at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham on Saturday, 25 February 2023.

The World Indoor Tour Gold will offer athletes the chance to compete for bonus prize money and wild card entries for the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow 2024.

Read more: How to watch live the Birmingham World Athletics Indoor Tour Final

The scoring disciplines on the World Indoor Tour are the women's 60 meters, 800 meters, 3000 meters, pole vault, the men's 400 meters, 1500 meters, 60 meters hurdles, high jump, and long jump. Each athlete's best three results will count toward their overall point score.

Women's 1000 metres:

Laura Muir will target Maria Mutola's long-standing world 1000 meters world record in front of her home fans.

Muir set the second-fastest time in history over this distance and the British Indoor record with 2:31.93 at the 2017 edition of the Birmingham Indoor meeting, erasing the previous national best mark held by Kelly Holmes.

Mutola ran faster than Muir, with her world indoor record of 2:30.94 in Stockholm in 1999.

Muir will make her first appearance in front of her Birmingham fans since last August when she won gold in the 1500 meters and bronze in the 800 meters at the 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium in West Midland city. Muir also won Olympic silver in Tokyo in 2021, world bronze in Eugene, and European gold in Munich in 2022.

The 29-year-old Scottish middle-distance star enjoyed great success in the Birmingham Utilita Arena in 2018 when she won silver in the 1500m and bronze in the 3000 meters at the World Indoor Championships.

Muir won two races in the World Indoor Tour on US soil this winter in the 3000 meters in Boston with 8:40.34 and in the Wanamaker Mile in New York at 4:20.15.

Outdoors Muir ran faster than Mutola's world indoor record when she set the British outdoor record with 2:30.82 in Monaco in 2020.

Laura Muir: "In 2017, I was just targeting Kelly Holmes' British record, so that's what I went in for and broke the European record at the same time., which is second all-time. I was delighted. It was an amazing atmosphere. I ran the 1000m once outdoors in Monaco, and I ran faster than the world indoor record. It is good to know that I physically ran faster, just unfortunately, in the wrong place. I have raced the 1000m a couple of times since then. I have so many special memories from competing in Birmingham, so I am very pleased to return to the race at the Birmingham World Indoor Tour Final and target Maria Mutola's world record. It is a distance I have had a good history in over the years, and the British record in 2017 was a significant highlight in my career to date, so I was looking forward to seeing what I can lay down on the track. I always look forward to racing indoors in the UK, and it kicks off a big year for the sport. It is fantastic that the UK is hosting the World Indoor Tour Series Final, and this is great that all the athletes will get to compete in a brilliant atmosphere as there is nothing quite like a British crowd".

Muir will face a strong European opposition led by Sofia Ennaoui, who won two European outdoor medals (silver in Berlin 2018 and bronze in Munich 2022), Mauren Koster from the Netherlands, fourth in the 5000m at the European Championships in Munich 2022, Elena Bellò from Italy, who clocked a lifetime best of 1:58.97 in the 800m at the Golden Gala in Rome last year, Claudia Bobocea, sixth in the 1500m at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow 2019.

The other British athlete to watch is in-form Katie Snowden, who improved her PBs in the mile with 4:21.19 in New York and in the 3000m with 8:47.41 in Boston this winter.

Women's 3000 meters:

World 5000 meters champion Gudaf Tsegay will attack the world indoor record of 8:16.60 set by Genzebe Dibaba in Stockholm in 2014. Tsegay set the second-fastest time in history, clocking 8:22.65 in Madrid in 2021. The Ethiopian star won two races this winter in the mile with 4:16.16 in Torun (the second fastest time in history over this distance behind Dibaba's world record of 4:13.31) and in 1500 with 3:57.47 in Liévin. Tsegay set the world indoor 1500 meters record with 3:53.09 in Liévin in 2021.

The best European athlete in the field is Konstanze Klosterhalfen, who won the continental outdoor title in the 5000 meters in Munich last year and the world bronze medal over the same distance in Doha in 2019. The German athlete won two European indoor silver medals in the 1500m in Belgrade in 2017 and in the 3000m in Glasgow in 2019. She won the German indoor title in the 3000 meters with 8:34.89 in Dortmund last week.

Kenya's Teresia Muthoni Gateri, who won the world under 20 title in the 3000 meters in Nairobi 2021, will debut indoors. Another rising star to watch is Mizan Alem, who won the world under 20 gold medal in the 5000m in Nairobi 2021 and finished third in the 3000m in Liévin in 8:39.09.

Women's 800 meters:

Keely Hodgkinson could fight for the win in the overall standing with a win in Birmingham in front of her home fans. The 20-year-old British star will target her second consecutive win in Birmingham one year after setting the national indoor record and the sixth fastest time on the world indoor all-time list with 1:57.20. The 2022 indoor season set Hodgkinson up for a successful outdoor season highlighted by two silver medals at the World Championships in Eugene and at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and a gold medal at the European Championships in Munich.

Hodgkinson opened her 2023 season with a world indoor 600m all-time best of 1:23.41 on her home track in Manchester last January and scored two consecutive World Indoor Tour wins in the 800 meters in Torun with 1:57.87 and Liévin with a world-leading time of 1:57.71.

Hodgkinson is in perfect shape and could get close to the world indoor record of 1:55.82 set by Slovenia's Jolanda Ceplak at the European Indoor Championships in Vienna on 2 March 2002, the day before Hodgkinson was born.

Hodgkinson will take on 37-year-old Noelle Yarigo from Benin, who finished second to the British athlete in Torun, setting the national record with 1:58.48 (second fastest time in the world this year) and won in Madrid in 2:01.47 last Wednesday, Isabel Boffey and Ellie Baker, who won the British indoor titles in the 800m and 1500m respectively last weekend in Birmingham, Catriona Bisset from Australia, who finished second to Yarigo in Madrid in 2:01.74 and improved her Oceanian indoor record to 1:59.46 in Birmingham last year, Anita Horvat from Slovenia, seventh in the World Championships final in Eugene in 1:59.83, US Allie Wilson, second at the 2022 NACAC Championships in Freeport in 1:58.48 and at the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque last week.

Keely Hodgkinson: "I feel I am in pretty good shape and I feel if the perfect smooth race was to happen, I could get close to the world record. I would have to go 57.2 seconds halfway. For me, it's just about attacking it, hitting that mark at 57, and trying to get a smooth run. I have not run on the new track, but it looks to be nice. It is a tough record to break. But I will do my best and see what happens. I aim to try and break my British record. The Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix was an incredible experience as it was one of the first big crowd atmospheres I experienced after the pandemic. I have no doubt the atmosphere at the Arena, with that amazing crowd, played a big part in helping me run fast, and I can't wait to feel that support again. I have high expectations for what I want to achieve in 2023 and know that starting off strongly with a great indoor season will get the ball rolling".

Men's 1500 meters:

Olympic 1500 meters bronze medallist Josh Kerr from Great Britain will face his compatriot Neil Gourley. Both middle-distance runners showed their good form recently. Kerr, who improved his outdoor PB in the 1500m by clocking 3:29.05 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, won the 3000 meters at the Millrose Games in New York in 7:33.47. Gourley won the mile in Boston in 3:52.84 and finished second at the Wanamaker Mile in New York in a lifetime best of 3:49.46. The two British middle distance runners will face former 3000m European Indoor champion Adel Mechaal from Spain, who finished third in the 1500m in Madrid in 3:34.82, and Andrew Coscoran from Ireland, who finished fourth in the mile in Boston in 3:53.64.

Women's 60 meters:

The women's 60 meters showdown is shaping up as one of the highlights of the Birmingham meeting. British sprint star Dina Asher-Smith will go head-to-head against her compatriot Darryl Neita and reigning 200 meters world champion Shericka Jackson and European 100m champion Gina Luckenkemper.

Asher-Smith, world 200m champion in Doha 2019, won the 60m in Karlsruhe breaking Asha Phillp's British 60m indoor record with 7.04, and is unbeaten this winter with wins in Jablonec in 7.09 and Belgrade in 7.13. Asher-Smith won the world bronze medal in Eugene and the European silver in the 200 meters last year. She will return to compete at the Birmingham Utilita Arena for the first time since 2013.

Dina Asher-Smith: "I always love competing in front of a home crowd. It is an occasion to thrive in, so I am looking forward to getting out there and racing on the new track. It has been a few years since I have competed indoors in Birmingham, so it is great to have the opportunity to race there at the World Indoor Tour Final".

Neita, the double bronze medallist in the 100 meters at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and at the European Championships in Munich, ran just 0.01 slower than Asher-Smith clocking a lifetime best of 7.05 at the ISTAF Indoor meeting in Berlin and won the British indoor title in Birmingham last weekend in 7.17. She finished second to Elaine Thompson Herah in last year's edition of the Birmingham Indoor meeting in her previous PB of 7.11.

Darryl Neita: "Coming off the back of a successful 2022 season, I am thrilled to return to Birmingham to race against another strong field. I set my PB at this venue and knew the track was good for me. I am really looking forward to racing in front of such a loud crowd, and I am sure the atmosphere will be incredible".

The other British sprinter in the line-up is Asha Phillip, who won Belgrade's 60m European Indoor title in 7.06.

Jackson set her indoor PB of 7.04 when she finished sixth in the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade last year and will test her speed ahead of the outdoor season. The Jamaican star won the 200 meters world title in Eugene, setting the second-fastest time in history with 21.45 and the Diamond League final in Zurich in 21.80.

Shericka Jackson: "I think I have so much in store. It has been two years since I switched from the 400m, so I want to see how fast I can go. I have got faster than I was before. I want to run at least 7 seconds something, so I want to put a good 30m together. My last 30 is OK, but my first 30m is bad. I had a terrible race in Boston, especially over the first 30m. So once I put that together, anything is possible."

Luckenkemper won the world bronze medal in the 4x100 relay in Eugene and two European gold medals In the 100m in 10.99 and in the 4x100 relay in Munich. This winter, Luckenkemper won the German indoor title in 7.17 and finished second in Dusseldorf in 7.18 and third in Berlin in 7.16.

The line-up also features US sprinters Kayla White, who won in Paris Bercy in a seasonal best of 7.13, and Destiny Smith Burnett, who placed third at last week's US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque in 7.11.

Men's 60 meters hurdles:

World indoor record holder Grant Holloway has extended his winning streak with two victories in the World Indoor Tour in Boston with a world-leading time of 7.38 and Liévin in 7.39.

Holloway has not lost a 60 meters hurdles race since 2014. He improved Colin Jackson's world indoor record with 7.29 in the Madrid World Indoor Tour meeting in 2021 and equaled this time in the semifinal of the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade in 2022. 

Holloway won the 60 meters hurdles race at last year's edition of the Birmingham meeting in 7.41.

Grant Holloway: "My 2022 season was one to remember, and the 60 metres hurdles world record was a special achievement for me. I enjoyed competing in Birmingham last year. It was amazing to win in front of such a loud and respectful crowd. I look forward to competing in that atmosphere this year at the Birmingham World Indoor Tour Final. The hurdles are always a must-watch race. This one will not disappoint; we look forward to putting on a show. My perfect race would be 7.28 in the 60 meters hurdles and 12.79 in the 110 meters hurdles outdoors. I am close to both of them. I think I have proven myself on every single level, and now it is just time to run free".

Roberts missed Holloway's world seasonal lead with his indoor PB of 7.39 in Madrid last Wednesday. The US hurdler won another World Indoor Tour race in Torun in 7.46 and finished second to Holloway in Boston in 7.46 and in Liévin in 7.43.

Roger Iribarne is set to continue his breakthrough season after finishing second to Roberts in Madrid in his lifetime best of 7.48. Freddie Crittenden also showed good form recently, winning the world indoor title in Albuquerque in 7.49 and finishing third in Madrid in 7.51. Andrew Pozzi from Great Britain will compete with his home fans on the track where he won the world indoor gold medal in 2018. Pozzi finished second to Holloway in last year's edition of the Birmingham indoor meeting in 7.59.

Men's 400 meters:

Jereem Richards from Trinidad and Tobago will chase his second World Indoor Tour Gold win after taking first place in New York in 45.84. He also finished a close second in Boston in 45.88. Richards made his breakthrough in London when he won the bronze medal in the 200m and the gold medal in the 4x400 relay in 2017. He won the world indoor title in a national record of 45.00 and the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in the 200m in 19.80 during a successful 2022 season.

Richards will face Olympic 4x400 champion Vernon Norwood, who finished third at the Millrose Games in New York in 45.92, and European 400m bronze medallist Alexander Haydock Wilson from Great Britain.

Men's 60 meters:

European 100 meters bronze medallist Jeremiah Azu will be looking to continue his good form after finishing second at the British Indoor Championships in Birmingham in 6.57 last week. Azu will face a domestic line-up that features his compatriots Ojie Edoburun (European Under 23 champion in 2017 in the 100m), former 200m European champion Adam Gemili and Adam Thomas, fifth in the 60m at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

Women's pole vault

World indoor and European outdoor bronze medallist Tina Sutej from Slovenia is currently second on the world seasonal list with her outright national record of 4.82m set in Ostrava earlier this month. Sutej also cleared 4.78m in Paris Bercy and Liévin.

Sutej will renew her rivalry against European outdoor champion Wilma Murto from Finland and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Ekaterini Stefanidi. Murto cleared 4.85m to win the European gold medal in Munich and improved her Finnish indoor record to 4.75m in Kuortane last month.

Stefanidi won the European silver medal behind Murto with 4.75m in Munich. The Greek vaulter, who won the world title with her PB of 4.91m in London in 2017, set a seasonal best of 4.62m when she placed third at the Millrose Games in New York.

The other pole vaulter to watch is US Bridget Williams, who will be aiming to win her second World Indoor Tour competition of the year after taking first place in Boston with 4.77m.

The line-up features Canadian record holder and 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Alysha Newman, who cleared 4.71m in Paris Bercy and Liévin and won in Madrid with 4.65m. Roberta Bruni, who improved her Italian indoor record to 4.62m at the National Indoor Championships in Ancona and set the national outdoor record with 4.72m in Rovereto last summer, and Gabriela Leon, NCAA outdoor champion in Eugene 2022 with 4.60m.

Men's high jump:

World Indoor bronze medallist, Hamish Kerr from New Zealand, will aim to improve his recent Oceania record of 2.34m set in the high jump meeting in Banska Bystrika last week. Kerr, who is currently second on the world seasonal list, returns to the British second city where he won the Commonwealth Games last year. Kerr will take on 2021 European Indoor bronze medallist Thomas Carmoy from Belgium, last year's European outdoor third placer Tobias Poyte from Germany, Edgar Rivera from Mexico, fourth place at the World Championships in London 2017, and former Italian indoor record holder Marco Fassinotti, who finished second in the Birmingham indoor meeting in 2014 with 2.30m.

Men's long jump:

Will Williams will aim to win his second consecutive men's long jump competition after taking the US indoor title in Albuquerque with 8.20m. Williams also won the NACAC Championships title in Freeport last summer.

Williams will go up against Thobias Montler, who won the world indoor silver medal with a Swedish indoor record of 8.38m and set a seasonal best of 8.19m in Stockholm, 2016 world indoor champion Marquis Dendy and 2019 world outdoor champion Tajay Gayle, who will make his indoor debut.

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