World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold action kicked off on Friday (28) at INIT Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe, where María Isabel Pérez and Enrique Llopis commanded a 10-athlete Spanish expedition. Pérez matched her own 60m national record with 7.21, while Llopis set a U23 record in 60m hurdles with 7.59.

This winter, María Isabel Pérez is in the best shape of her life and proved it twice in Karlsruhe — she won her semifinal in style with 7.22 (the 2nd fastest ever by a Spanish woman) and did it again in the final with 7.21. Three weeks ago, the Sevilla native had broken with the same mark the 32-year-old national record of 7.23 set by Sandra Myers.

This prestigious win —the first in decades by a Spanish sprinter in the world stage— is the icing on the cake for Pérez’s month. In January, the 28-year-old has hit a perfect streak of four triumphs in the four races she has entered in. In addition, she has broken the 7.30 second barrier every time she has toed the line, clocking 7.26, 7.21, 7.22 and 7.21 with the three fastest times in Spain’s history.

Llegada de la final de 60 m en Karlsruhe; Maribel Perez a la derecha (Foto: European Athletics)

Enrique Llopis displayed a stellar performance over the 60m hurdles setting a Spain’s U23 record of 7.59 to place 2nd in the final. The Valencia native has a great rivalry with his fellow countryman Asier Martínez, who claimed gold at European U23 Championship last summer while Llopis took bronze. In Karlsruhe, Llopis got revenge defeating Martínez, who finished 4th with a season best of 7.61.

Llopis’ 7.59 ranks him 4th in the Spanish all-time list and 3rd in the world in 2022 (U23 leader).

In the 3000m Adel Mechaal ran an almost solo 7:36.57 to be 2nd and set the 4th fastest time ever by a Spanish athlete —the 6th by any European. The 1500m Olympic finalist leads the European ranking this year.

Marta Pérez and Esther Guerrero made their lifetime best season-kick off in 1500m, clocking 4:07.52 and 4:09.06 respectively. Pérez crossed the line in 6th after a fast last lap and was just 0.15 of her personal best indoors. Guerrero ended 8th after leading the group for several laps and came up just 0.06 shy of the World Championship standard.

In the 800m, Álvaro de Arriba was 4th with 1:47.44, two places ahead of Pablo Sánchez-Valladares, who clocked 1:48.66. Eusebio Cáceres leaped 7.80m in the long jump to be 5th and Teresa Errandonea couldn’t make the 60m hurdles final after finishing 7th in her semifinal with 8.29.

In summary, five Spanish athletes got the World Championship standard at INIT Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe —María Isabel Pérez in 60m with 7.21, Enrique Llopis and Asier Martínez in 60m hurdles with 7.59 and 7.61, Adel Mechaal in 3000m with 7:36.57 and Marta Pérez in 1500m with 4:07.52.

All of them, except Martínez, became Spain’s season leaders in their events, in the same way Álvaro de Arriba and Eusebio Cáceres did in 800m (1:47.44) and long jump (7.80m).

Duplantis and Aregawi put pole vault and 3000m world records in jeopardy

Apart from the Spanish athletes, Armand Duplantis and Berihu Aregawi commanded the spotlight in Karlsruhe. The pole vault Olympic champion cleared easily 6.02m to break the meeting record of 5.95m before making three tries at 6.19m —a mark 1cm higher than her own world record—, some of them very close to succeed.

The Ethiopian, world record holder in the 5km, came close to Daniel Komen’s 3000m world record of 7:24.90. Aregawi was on pace to break it for most of the race, but finally crossed the line in 7:26.20. With this personal best, the 20-year-old moves to 5th on the world all-time list.

In addition, Karlsruhe produced four more world leads — Poland’s Anna Kielbasinska 51.92 in 400m, Greece’s Andréas Pantazís 16.79m in triple jump, France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde 7.54 in 60m hurdles and Ethiopia’s Axumawit Emabaye 4:02.12 in 1500m.