West Waterford’s David McCarthy will be the first Irish athlete on the track in the men’s 1500m (11.25am Irish time) and his goal is “to make the final” but it will be a tall order with last season’s medallists, Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider, Turkey’s Ilham Tanui Ozbilen and Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremedhin amongst a loaded entry list.
Rose-Anne Galligan and Ciara Everard will toe the line at midday in the women’s 800m with USA’s Ajee Wilson and Chanelle Price along with Great Britain’s Laura Muir the favourites.
“The qualification is very tough with only probably the winner of each heat getting to the final,” said Everard of the competition. “As a competitor I’m always going to be hoping to make that final but I’d settle with a personal best or season’s best.”
Rose-Anne Galligan’s goal is “to run under 2:03 and I would love a new indoor PB. It would also be nice to add an Irish indoor record to my outdoor one”.
Mark English will be Ireland’s main hope at 12.30pm in the men’s 800m but the competition will be cut-throat. Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman will start as the clear favourite after running an African record of 1:44.52 in Birmingham. English’s main advantage is he will go in the last heat.
Claire Tarplee rounds out the Irish team at 6.35pm in the women’s 1500m heats and wants to leave the track “knowing I gave it my all”. Other heavy favourites include Russia’s Ivan Ukhov in the high jump, Australia’s Sally Pearson in the 60m hurdles and the indomitable New Zealander Valerie Adams in the shot put.
Ukhov has jumped 2.42m this season and could break Javier Sotomayor of Cuba’s long-standing world record of 2.43m.
A place in the record books beckons for USA’s Bernard Lagat in the 3,000m.
A fourth gold medal in the event would put the 39-year-old US champion one victory ahead of Haile Gebrselassie in the all-time annals of the World Indoor Championships. Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia, 20 years his junior, has been untouchable this winter on the boards though. Two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski will be hoping home advantage in the ERGO Arena will see him win the men’s shot put but that honour is likely to go to defending champion Ryan Whiting of the USA.
Anna Rogowska is the most likely to delight the home crowd in the women’s pole vault.
An interesting aside is that two Irish therapists will be there working on three of the world’s best athletes. Ciarán McDonagh will be treating Asthon Eaton and his wife Brianne (heptathlon and pentathlon respectively) while Anthony Geoghan will be treating Croatian high jump contender Blanka Vlasic.