ATHLETICS Preview: Indoor mile record targeted in Saturday’s Millrose Games

Ethiopia's Yomif Kejelcha

The mile has been one of the mainstays of indoor track & field for decades and is perhaps the most cherished record on the books. Today it stands at 3:48.45 by Morocco’s Hicham el Guerrouj back in 1997, but it may not make it past Saturday’s New York Road Runners Millrose Games at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory in New York (USA).

That’s because of Ethiopia’s 21-year-old star Yomif Kejelcha, who has blazed through two mile wins so far this season in remarkable times of 3:52.61 in Seattle and 3:51.70 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Roxbury a couple of weeks ago.

That’s the fastest in the world by a little more than three seconds this season, and places him no. 12 on the all-time list. He’ll be running in a meet with a long history of mile records, and the meet record is a sensational 3:50.63 – the no. 6 performance all-time – by Olympic champ Matthew Centrowitz from 2016.

His principal challengers are expected to be Kenyan Edward Cheserek, who owns the no. 2 mark in history at 3:49.44 from 2018, and Rio 800 m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy, who has run 3:51.99 outdoors from 2017.

The 112th edition of the Millrose Games will also feature:

Men’s Shot Put: The Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists will be in the ring: Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs. Crouser has been just about unbeatable when he is healthy and has an indoor best of 21.73 m (71-3 1/2). Kovacs has thrown 21.46 m (70-5) indoors.

Women’s 60 m: The Rio Olympic 100 m finalist English Gardner is finally back from injury and will be trying to improve on her 7.12 indoor best from 2012. She will have to run pretty well beat Rio 200 m Olympian Deajah Stevens (7.17 indoor best in 2017) and 2018 Commonwealth Games 100 m champion Michelle-Lee Ahye (TTO).

Women’s 800 m: Ajee Wilson of the U.S. has been one of the top 3-4 800 m runners of the past three years, but coming on fast is former LSU star Natoya Goule (JAM). Wilson has impressive lifetime bests of 1:55.61 from 2017 and an indoor PR of 1:58.99 from last year. But Goule exploded in 2018, dropping from 1:59.38 to a national record 1:56.15. Both of them should be running for medals in the Doha Worlds much later this year.

Women’s Mile: Konstanze Klosterhalfen (GER) is really good and has won all three of her 2019 races: a 1,000 m and mile (4:29.06 on an oversized track) in Seattle and 15:15.80 in the 5,000 m at the New Balance meet in Roxbury. Now she’s matched up with the 1-2 finishers from last year’s Wanamaker Women’s Mile: Colleen Quigley and Kate Grace, who ran 4:30.05 and 4:30.08.

And a lot more. NBC has coverage of the Millrose Games on Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern time. Look for results here.

The IAAF World Indoor Tour continues in Madrid (ESP) on Friday, with a host of intriguing match-ups, starting with the women’s 60 m.

Poland’s Ewa Swoboda has been the women’s sprint star of the early season, defeating two-time World 200 m Champion Dafne Schippers in Karlsruhe (GER) and African and Continental Cup 100 m champ Marie Josee Ta Lou (CIV) in Torun (POL) on Wednesday.

Now Schippers get another chance, and told reporters that a sub-7.00 clocking is possible. Swoboda’s world-leading mark is 7.08.

The men’s 60 m will also be interesting with the season debut of China’s Bingtian Su, who raced to an Asian Indoor Record of 6.42 last season. He will be challenged by veteran American sprinter Mike Rodgers (9.89 for 100 m outdoors in 2018), Arthur Cisse (CIV: 6.53 this season) and others.

The men’s shot put will feature all three medalists from last year’s European Championships: Poles Michal Haratyk (20.45 m/67-1 1/4 in 2019), Konrad Bukowiecki (20.95 m/68-8 3/4 this season) and Germany’s David Storl (21.26 m/69-9). The world lead of American Payton Otterdahl – 21.64 m/71-0 – is definitely in jeopardy.

Look for results here.