The Orlen Copernicus Cup, set to light up Torun on Tuesday, February 6, is gearing up to be a thrilling showcase of track and field excellence. This year's event will feature a dazzling array of talent across several key events. In the women's 60 metres, spectators can look forward to the electrifying performances of Ewa Swoboda, Zaynab Dosso, and Patrizia Van der Weken, each bringing their unique strengths to the track. The middle-distance races are equally promising, with Freweyni Hailu and Hirut Meshesha competing in the women's 1500 metres, showcasing their endurance and tactical acumen. The men's 3000 metres will see the long-distance prowess of Selemon Barega and Getnet Wale. Adding to the excitement, the women's 60 metres hurdles will feature Pia Szryszowska, Nadine Visser, and Reetta Hurske, hurdling sensations who are set to deliver breathtaking performances.
Women’s 60 metres:
Polish star Ewa Swoboda will renew her rivalry against Italian record holder Zaynab Dosso and Patrizia Van der Weken from Luxembourg in the women’s 60 metres. Swoboda won three European indoor medals in the 60 metres (gold in Glasgow 2023 in 7.09, silver in Belgrade 2017 in 7.10 and in Istanbul 2023 in 7.09) and finished fourth at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade 2022 in 7.04. Swoboda, who set the national indoor record clocking 6.99 at the Polish Championships in Torun in 2022, won her first two 60 metres races this year in Lodz in 7.04 and Ostrava in 7.07.
Dosso finished second to Swoboda in Lodz breaking her own Italian indoor record clocking 7.05. The Italian sprinter of African origin also equalled Manuela Levorato’s Italian record with 11.14 in the heats of the World Championships in Budapest and won the bronze medal with the 4x100 relay at the European Championships in Munich 2022. Last year she finished fourth with the 4x100 relay final at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest in 42.49 after setting the Italian record with 42.14 in the heats.
Van der Weken improved her national record to 7.09 at the World Indoor Tour Bronze meeting in Luxembourg and finished second to Swoboda in 7.17 at the Czech Indoor meeting in Ostrava. She won the gold medal at the World University Games in the 100 metres in 11.22 in Chengdu 2023 and set the 100 metres national record clocking 11.02 in Dessau last year.
Men’s 3000 metres:
Three Ethiopian stars will make an attempt to break the world record in the men’s 3000 metres. Selemon Barega will run his second race this winter after testing his shape by running the 1500 metres in 3:37.50 in Miramas. Barega won the Olympic gold medal in the 10000 metres in Tokyo 2021 and the world indoor gold medal in the 3000 metres in Belgrade 2022. The Ethiopian athlete set the fifth fastest indoor time in history with 7:26.10 in Liévin in 2021.
Barega will renew his rivalry against Getnet Wale, who finished fourth in the 3000 metres steeplechase at both the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo and at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene and set the fourth fastest indoor time in history with 7.24.94 in Liévin in 2021.
Twenty-one year-old Diriba Girma will be aiming to improve his lifetime best of 7:38.79 set in Liévin in 2022. Girma, younger brother of 3000m world indoor record holder Lamecha Girma, finished fourth in the 3000 metres at the 2022 World under 20 Championships in Cali.
Men’s pole vault:
Local favourite Piotr Lisek from Poland will take on European indoor champion Sondre Guttormsen from Norway and Emmanouil Karalis from Greece in a re-match of last year’s European Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
Guttormsen won the European Indoor gold medal in Istanbul with 5.80m taking a win on countback over Lisek and Karalis, who shared the silver medal with 5.80m.
Lisek claimed two world outdoor medals and two world indoor medals in his career. The Polish vaulter set the national outdoor record clearing 6.02m at the Monaco Diamond League meeting in 2019.
Guttormsen won his second NCAA indoor title in Albuquerque in 2023 clearing the 6.00 metres barrier for the first time in his career. The Norwegian athlete finished sixth at both the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and at the European outdoor Championships in Munich in Munich in 2022.
Karalis improved his Greek indoor record to 5.86m in Athens and finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo with 5.80m.
Women’s 1500 metres:
Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji from Ethiopia will go head-to-head against her compatriot Freweyni Hailu and Beatrice Chepkoech from Kenya, world indoor 1500 metres indoor bronze Hirut Meshesha and Uganda’s Halimah Nakaayi, world 800 metres champion in Doha 2019.
Welteji won the mile at the World Athletics Road Running Championships setting a world record of 4:20.98. Welteji also claimed the world silver medal in the 1500 metres in 3:55.69 behind Faith Kipyegon in Budapest 2023 and finished fourth in the 800 metres at the World Championships in Eugene 2022. Welteji started the 2024 season with a win over the mile distance in 4:23.76 at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Astana.
Hailu won the world indoor 800 metres silver medal in Belgrade 2022 and finished fourth in the 1500 metres at both the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2021 and at the World Championships in Eugene 2022. Hailu set the world seasonal lead and the sixth fastest time in history in the mile clocking 4:17.36 at the World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Ostrava.
Chepkoech set the world record in the 3000 metres steeplechase with 8:44.32 in Monaco in 2018 and won two world medals (gold in Doha 2019 in 8:57.84 and silver in Budapest 2023 in 8:58.98). She finished second in the Diamond League final in 8:51.67 last year. Chepkoech set the Kenyan indoor record with 4:02.09 in Dusseldorf in 2020.
Meshesha set her indoor PB of 4:02.01 in the 1500m in Liévin in 2023, when she finished second ahead of Hailu, who clocked a PB of 4:02.47.
Women’s 60 metres hurdles:
Pia Skrzyszowska from Poland will face European Indoor champion Reetta Hurske from Finland and Nadine Visser from the Netherlands in the women’s 60 metres hurdles.
Skrzyszowska won her first two races of the 2024 season in Lodz with 7.85 and in Ostrava in 7.82. The Polish hurdler won the European outdoor gold medal in Munich 2022 in 12.53 and set PBs of 7.78 in the 60 metres hurdles in Lodz and 12.51 in the 100 metres hurdles in Chorzow in 2023.
Hurske won the European Indoor gold medal in Istanbul 2023 setting a 60m hurdles record of 7.79.
Visser won two European Indoor gold medals in Glasgow 2019 and Torun 2021 and the world indoor bronze medal in Birmingham 2018. The Dutch hurdler, who finished fifth in the 100 metres hurdles at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, finished second to Skrzyszowska in her first race of the season in Ostrava in 7.93 and missed her PB by three hundredths of a second when she clocked 7.80 in Metz last Saturday.
Men’s 60 metres hurdles:
Jakub Szymanski from Poland will be aiming to win his second consecutive race in the 60 metres hurdles after finishing first at last Sunday’s ISTAF Indoor meeting in Dusseldorf, where he improved his national record to 7.47.
Last year’s European under 23 110 metres hurdles silver medallist Lorenzo Simonelli from Italy started his 2024 season on a high note by improving his PB in the 60 metres with 6.59 in Ancona. Simonelli then broke Paolo Dal Molin’s Italian indoor record in the 60 metres hurdles by clocking 7.50 at the Orlen Cup in Lodz beating Szymanski by two hundredths of a second. Simonelli trains with Zaynab Dosso in Rome under the guidance of Italian coach Giorgio Frinolli.
The line-up also features Milan Trajkovic from Cyprus, European indoor champion in Glasgow 2019 and seventh placer at the World Indoor champion in Belgrade 2022, and Roger Iribarne from Cuba, who improved his PB to 7.48 in Madrid 2023.
Men’s triple jump:
Italian outdoor record Andy Diaz Hernandez started his 2024 indoor season with two wins in the men’s triple jump in Pamplona with 16.90m on a shorter run-up and in Miramas with a world indoor lead of 17.46m. Diaz won the past two editions of the Diamond League Final in 2022 and 2023 and leapt to a PB of 17.75m at the Golden Gala in Florence breaking the Italian outdoor record held by his coach Fabrizio Donato.
Diaz will take on Cuban jumpers Lazaro Martinez and Christian Napoles, who won the silver and bronze medals at the World Championships in Budapest 2023. Martnez won the world indoor gold medal in Belgrade 2022 with 17.64m
Women’s 400 metres:
Lieke Klaver from the Netherlands will chase her second consecutive win in the women’s 400 metres at this year’s edition of the World Indoor Tour Gold after finishing first in Ostrava in a world seasonal best and meeting record of 50.54. She continued her good period of form by clocking the 400 metres in 51.33 and the 200 metres in 22.81 in Metz last Saturday.
Klaver won two European indoor silver medals over this distance in Torun 2021 and Istanbul 2023 behind Femke Bol and won the world outdoor gold medal in the 4x400 relay in Budapest 2023.
Klaver will face Poland’s Justyna Swiety Ersetic from Poland, who is returning from health problems. Swiety Ersetic won two European outdoor gold medals in the 400 metres and in the 4x400 relay in Berlin 2018 and the silver medal in the 400m at the 2021 European Indoor Championships in Torun 2021.
Men’s 1500 metres:
Isaac Nader from Portugal will be chasing his second win at this year’s World Indoor Tour Gold after finishing first in his lifetime best of 3:34.23 in Ostrava. Nader will be challenged by two-time world indoor champion and former world indoor record holder Samuel Tefera from Ethiopia and Ossama Meslek, who improved Pietro Arese’s Italian record by 0.7 to 3:36.04 last Saturday.
Men’s 800 metres:
Botswana’s Tshepiso Maselela will be looking to continue his winning streak after winning two consecutive races in Ostrava in 1:46.41 and Metz in a national record of 1:45.56. Maselela finished sixth at the World Championships in Budapest and improved his outdoor PB to 1:44.03 in Brussels.
Maselela will face Polish 800 metres specialists Patryk Dobek, Olympic bronze medallist in Tokyo 2021 and European under 23 champion in Tallin 2021 in the 400 metres hurdles, Mateusz Borkowski, European indoor silver medallist in Torun 2021, and Italy’s Catalin Tecuceanu, who finished second in Ostrava behind Maselela and reached the final at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul and the semifinal at the World Championships in Budapest, where he improved his PB to 1:44.79.
Women’s 800 metres:
Noelle Yarigo from Benin will return to the venue, where she won the 800 metres improving her national record to 1:58.48.
Men’s 60 metres:
Jeremiah Azu from Great Britain, European bronze medallist in Munich 2022 and European under 23 champion in Espoo 2023 in the 100 metres, will go head-to-head against 60 metres European indoor bronze medallist Henrik Larsson from Sweden, and Simon Hansen from Denmark, who improved his PB to 6.58 in Ahrus.