Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia, who broke world indoor 1500m records at the Pas-de-Calais meeting in Lievin in 2022 and 2021, respectively, return to contest the same distance on Wednesday (15) in search of further improvements.
Also featuring in the fifth of seven stops on the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold circuit will be Sweden’s world and Olympic pole vault champion Mondo Duplantis, already a serial world record-breaker at 23, and two 400m hurdlers who are sharpening up in spectacular fashion over 400m flat in Femke Bol of the Netherlands and Norway’s Karsten Warholm.
The field for Wednesday’s programme in the Arena Stade Couvert will be a match for any assembled in the meeting’s illustrious history.
Ingebrigtsen is returning to the track on which he set his world record of 3:30.60 last season, and this will be a key indicator of his form as he looks ahead to the task of winning a first world 1500m title in Budapest, having been beaten to gold in Oregon last summer by Britain’s Jake Wightman.
The bar is already high this season following Saturday’s performance by Yared Nuguse at the Millrose Games, the fourth stop on the Indoor Tour Gold sequence, as he set a 2023 world lead and North American record of 3:33.22 en route to his 3:47.38 mile.
Those most likely to keep the wondrous 22-year-old on his toes are Poland’s Michal Rozmys, who has an indoor best of 3:32.43, and Spain’s Adel Mechaal, who ran 3:38.85 in the opening Gold meeting in Karlsruhe last month.
Tsegay, who set her world record of 3:53.09 in Lievin two years ago, has already shown dramatic evidence of form in winning the mile in Torun on 8 February in 4:16.16, falling just short of the world record of 4:13.31 set by Genzebe Dibaba in 2016 in a race where Tsegay, then 18, finished second in 4:24.98.
She already tops the season’s world list for 1500m with her split of 3:59.48 in Torun. How much can she reduce that by?
She will have serious opposition from compatriots Freweyni Hailu, Hirut Meshesha and Axumawit Embaye, all of whom have indoor bests of 4:02.
Bol, one of the highest-performing athletes of the moment, will return to the distance at which she reduced the Dutch record to 49.96 in Metz on Saturday to move up to fourth on the all-time list.
Can the 22-year-old Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medallist and world silver medallist, who opened her season with a 500m world best of 1:05.63 in Boston, get even closer to the world indoor record of 49.59 that has stood since 1982 to Czech runner Jarmila Kratochvilova?
Bol’s Dutch compatriot Lieke Klaver is also in strong form, having reduced her personal best to 51.00 on 2 February in Ostrava to stand fifth in this year’s world list. There will be a strong Polish challenge, too, in the form of Natalia Kaczmarek, who has a best of 51.15, and Anna Kielbasinska, who has run 51.10.
Warholm has already moved to second on this season’s world list for the 400m by winning last month at the meeting named after him in his native Ulsteinvik in a time of 45.31, not far off the 45.05 personal best with which he won the European indoor title in Glasgow in 2019, equalling the European record set by East Germany’s Thomas Schoenlebe in 1988 in so doing.
The 26-year-old Olympic champion and world record-holder had a challenging year in 2022 after injuring his hamstring in his first race of the season at the Diamond League meeting in Rabat. He recovered in time to make a late entry to the outdoor season, reaching the world final in defence of his title and then retaining his European title in Munich.
This year, unlike last, he is doing an indoor season, and he will be looking for another encouraging pointer to what he might achieve at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
In Lievin he will face the challenge of Belgium’s Dylan Borlee, who has a best of 46.25.
Since surpassing Renaud Lavillenie’s men’s pole vault world record of 6.16m by one centimetre in Torun three years ago, Duplantis has added a further centimetre on four further occasions, culminating in his 6.21m in Oregon last year to win a first world title.
Duplantis, who has already produced a season-opening 6.10m at the meeting named after him in Uppsala, 19cm more than any rival, is effectively in a class of his own right now. But the man who has come closest to him, Olympic and world silver medallist Chris Nilsen of the United States, who has an indoor best of 6.05m, is among his opponents.
The entry list also includes another athlete who has cleared 5.91m this season, world bronze medallist Ernest Obiena of the Philippines. Renaud’s younger brother Valentin, who has an indoor best of 5.85m, carries home hopes.
Like Bol, Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson is on a mission to win gold this year after Olympic and world silvers at 800m.
She opened her season with a world 600m best of 1:23.41 in Birmingham. Her 800m time of 1:57.87 in Torun tops this year’s world lists, and she was disappointed with it; a measure of her ambition. Can she trim that still further on Wednesday night?
Among her opponents will be 37-year-old Benin runner Noelie Yarigo, who finished second in Torun in 1:58.48, the second best time of the season.
Also one to watch will be Uganda’s 2019 world champion Halimah Nakaayi, who is third in this season’s list with 1:59.18.
Italy’s Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs opened his season with a 6.57 60m in Lodz on 4 February and will be seeking to get closer to his best of 6.41 given the times already established by his US opposition.
Trayvon Bromell leads the world standings with 6.42, and 2019 world 100m champion Christian Coleman won at Saturday’s Millrose Games in 6.47.
Jacobs will have hot opposition in Lievin in the form of Kenya’s Commonwealth 100m champion Ferdinand Omanyala, who has a best of 6.57, and the Ivory Coast’s Arthur Cisse, who has run 6.53.
In the men’s 60m hurdles, double world champion Grant Holloway will seek to extend an unbeaten indoor record stretching back 52 races to 2014, when he was 16.
He already tops the 2023 list with 7.38 from Boston on 4 February and will seek to get even closer to his world record of 7.29.
Daniel Roberts, second to him in Boston in 7.46, is also in the field, as is Poland’s Damian Czykier, who has a best of 7.48, and popular home athlete Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, the 2018 European champion, who has run 7.53 this year.
Katie Moon (nee Nageotte), the women’s world and Olympic pole vault champion, is bang in form having won the Millrose Games title on Saturday at her fourth attempt, clearing 4.81m. But she will have tough opposition in Slovenia’s 34-year-old Tina Sutej, who set a national record of 4.82m in Ostrava on 2 February, and Finland’s European champion Wilma Murto, whose 4.75m this season puts her fourth on the world list.
Also present will be Canada’s 2018 Commonwealth champion Alysha Newman, who has managed 4.71m so far this season, and, never to be overlooked, former Olympic, world and European champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece.
The women’s triple jump promises a re-run of the classic in Karlsruhe, Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk against Cuba’s Liadagmis Povea and Leyanis Perez Hernandez.
Ukraine’s European champion Bekh-Romanchuk, who has an indoor best of 14.74m, finished third in the opening World Indoor Tour Gold meeting with 14.41m as victory went to Povea in a world-leading 14.64m and second place to her compatriot Perez Hernandez on 14.48m.
Greece’s Olympic men’s long jump champion Miltiadis Tentoglou is already off and leaping this year with 8.40m, the best seen so far.
His most likely competition will come from Marquis Dendy of the United States, who has jumped 8.42m indoors, and the ever-competitive Swede Thobias Montler, who is fourth on this season’s list with 8.19m.
The women’s 3000m, like the 1500m, looks likely to be dominated by Ethiopian athletes given the presence of Ejgayehu Taye, Lemlem Hailu and Diribe Welteji, who have respective personal bests of 8.26.77, 8:29.28 and 8:33.44.
Ethiopian prospects are also good in the men’s 3000m thanks to the presence of the world and Olympic 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Lamecha Girma, who has a best of 7:27.98, and his compatriot Birhanu Balew, who has run 7:31.77. But Spain’s Mohamed Katir and Grant Fisher of the United States will fancy their chances.
In the men’s 800m French fans will be looking forward to another rumbustious performance from Benjamin Robert, who thundered through – literally at one point – the opposition to win at last year’s Diamond League meeting in Paris in 1:43.75. He has a best of 1:47.04 so far this year.
But there are other potential winners in Kenya’s Collins Kipruto, currently sixth on the world list with 1:45.89, and Sweden’s Andreas Kramer, who has run 1:45.90 this season, plus Tony van Diepen of the Netherlands.