Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha came this close to setting a world record in the mile last week at the Millrose Games in New York, but he finished 0.01 short of tying Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj’s 3:48.45 from 1997.
Now Kejelcha sets sail after another El Guerrouj record, also from 1997, his 3:31.18 in the 1,500 m, at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham (GBR) on Saturday (16th).
One aspect of his race at Millrose which hurt Kejelcha’s chances was the lack of any significant competition, especially in the final third. He may have more company this week, with countryman Samuel Tefera and Kenyans Vincent Kibet and Bethwel Birgen.
Tefera has won both of his races in 2019, running 3:35.57 and 3:36.72. Birgen was second to Kejelcha in Boston at 3:54.82 for the mile and Kibet ran 3:38.23 to win the World Tour meet in Karlsruhe on 2 February.
Kejelcha’s 1,500 m at Millrose was 3:33.17, the fastest in the world for 2019, and after going through that experience and coming so close, he will be better prepared for a record run in the 1,500 m.
There are many other highlighted events in Birmingham, but none with the same record-breaking potential as the 1,500:
● Men’s 60 m: American Michael Rodgers won at the Indoor World Tour stop in Madrid, but he’s hardly the favorite in a good field which includes Bingtian Su (CHN: 6.52, no. 2 on the world list), Reece Prescod (GBR: 6.53 ~ no. 3) and Arthur Cisse (CIV: 6.53 ~ no. 3).
● Men’s 400 m: Nathan Strother (USA), who was fourth at the USATF Champs last year, has been a star indoors, winning in Boston, Torun and Madrid. This week, he will face Luguelin Santos (DOM) and fellow American Marcus Chambers.
● Men’s High Jump: The surprise of the indoor season has been the 2.35 m (7-8 1/2) from Japan’s Naoto Tobe in Karlsuhe. His primary challengers could be Andriy Protsenko (2.30 m/7-6 1/2 this year), 2018 U.S. champ Jeron Robinson (2.27 m/7-5 1/4) and former World Champion Donald Thomas (BAH: 2.27 m/7-5 1/4 this year).
● Men’s Long Jump: The nos. 2-3-4 jumpers on the world list will be on hand: Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.23 m/27-0 this season), Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria (8.12 m/26-7 3/4) and Sweden’s Thobias Nilsson Montler (8.08 m/26-6 1/4).
● Women’s 60 m: Jamaica’s 2016 Olympic 100/200 m gold medalist Elaine Thompson will compete here, facing Britain’s Asha Philip (7.12, no. 3 on the indoor world list), Marie Josee Ta Lou (CIV: 7.15 ~ no. 4)
● Women’s Mile: The final event of the meet will be a showcase for British star Laura Muir, who will be facing a good field of Rababe Arafi (MAR), Winny Chebet (KEN) and Dawit Seyaum (ETH) among others.
● Women’s Pole Vault: Olympic and World Champion Katerina Stefanidi (4.74 m/15-6 1/2 in 2019) will face off once more against Britain’s Holly Bradshaw (4.80 m/15-9), 2015 World Champion Yarisley Silva (CUB: season debut), Canada’s Alysha Newman (4.71 m/15-5 1/2) and 2018 U.S. Indoor Champion Katie Nageotte (4.86 m/15-11 1/4).
Look for results here.