ATHLETICS Panorama: Muir’s double highlights European Indoor Champs; IAAF World Rankings start and more

Britain's Laura Muir (Photo: Filip Bossuyt via Wikimedia Commons)

The close of the 2019 indoor season is upon us, as the European Indoor Championships took place in Glasgow (GBR) last weekend and the NCAA Indoor Championships are this weekend in Birmingham, Alabama.

The European Indoors was an excellent meet, with seven world leaders:

Men’s Long Jump: 8.38 m (27-6), Miltiadis Tentoglu (GRE)
Men’s Heptathlon: 6,218, Jorge Urena (ESP)

Women’s 400 m: 51.61, Lea Sprunger (SUI)
Women’s 3,000 m: 8:30.61, Laura Muir (GBR)
Women’s 4×400 m: 3:28.77, Poland
Women’s Long Jump: 6.99 m (22-11 1/4), Ivana Spanovic (equals)
Women’s Pentathlon: 4,983, Katarina Johnson-Thompson (GBR)

Muir was the star of the show, winning the 3,000 m in a world-leading 8:30.61, impressively ahead of Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen (8:34.06 and the 1,500 m in 4:05.92, winning by more than 3 1/2 seconds over Sonia Ennaoui (POL: 4:09.30). She defended both of her titles from the 2017 Euro Indoors.

“This was a big test this weekend and a lot of pressure,” said Muir. “I am so happy that I could deliver. We set out to do just one event a few months ago and then we thought why not go for the double. I never thought I’d have another chance to do that in Glasgow and to do it on my own track is special.”

Other impressive wins came from Ewa Swoboda (POL) in the 60 m, running 7.09 to finished ahead of Dutch star Dafne Schippers (7.11) and Norway’s Karsten Warholm, who won the 400 m in 45.05, equaling the European Indoor Record.

Both of the men’s vertical jumps were great, with Gianmarco Tamberi (ITA) showing a complete recovery from shattering his left ankle in 2016 by winning the high jump at 2.32 m (7-7 1/4), to add to his World Indoor title from 2016. The vault was won by Pawel Wojciechowski (POL) at 5.90 m (19-4 1/4), ahead of teammate Piotr Lisek, who cleared 5.85 m (19-2 1/4).

The frequent-flier award goes to Norwegian vaulter (and UCLA freshman) Sondre Guttormsen, who was eighth at 5.55 m (18-2 1/2). He won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in Seattle, Washington on 23 February, competed in Glasgow on 2 March and will be at the NCAA Championships in Birmingham this weekend.

The IAAF launched its new world rankings program on 26 February, claiming that it will “provide a more effective way of identifying the top athletes in each discipline by rewarding consistency and competition among the world’s best.”

It won’t do that, but it will be one more thing to talk about, as it is in some other sports, such as tennis – where it is quite important – and golf.

The IAAF World Rankings will not be used for qualification for the 2019 World Championships in Doha, but will have a full year of introduction so that everyone can get used to how the program works and what its faults are. We will be examining in closely in the coming weeks.

If you want to check them out, click here.

Kemoy Campbell, the Jamaican Olympian and national record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 m, was released from the New York Presbyterian Medical Center last week (26 February) after collapsing while pacesetting the men’s 3,000 m at the Millrose Games on 9 February.

Campbell was carried away from the track and his heart stopped, but he was revived and has recovered sufficiently to be discharged.

The odd part of his story is that a series of tests did not reveal what caused his symptoms. However, he did have an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implanted, which will shock his heart into activity if it stops again.

Campbell’s track & field future is not clear; he ran national records of 13:20.39 for 5,000 m in 2015 and 28:06.40 for the 10,000 m in 2017, making the 2017 Worlds final in the 5,000 m.

The Russian news service TASS reported that the IAAF will take up the issue of Russia’s reinstatement at this weekend’s meeting of the IAAF Council in Doha (QAT).

The current whisper is that Russia will not be reinstated at this meeting, but there could be progress in the steps required. The IAAF presently permits Russian athletes to apply for “Authorized Neutral Athlete” status for international competitions.

More than 200 applications for ANA status were received by the Russian Athletics Federation for the 2019 season; the IAAF approved 42 athletes on 21 January and 21 more on 21 February.

American distance runner Luke Puskedra, still just 29, announced his retirement on Instagram, noting that “I have taken some time to reflect on how I could find a better balance between running and life. For a long time, life was that thing that happened somewhere between one training session and the next. After twenty years, I have made the decision to start lacing up a different pair of shoes between runs.

“I had the incredible support of the best company in sports through Nike and now Re-max has given me the privilege of adding another chapter with the best company in real estate.”

Puskedra was an 11-time All-American at Oregon and had impressive bests of 13:31.88 (‘13), 27:56.62 (‘12) and 2:10:24 in the marathon in Chicago in 2015. But his performances had slipped over the past three years, and now the decision to move on to the rest of his life.

With a wife and two young daughters, he will have plenty to do. And with a better perspective on life, he may be back.