Birmingham Diary: High jumpers to take centre stage at Thursday's opening session, from WICBirmingham Media


The High Jump sessions at the World Indoor Championships will be on Thursday night, March 1. That will be followed by the women's 3000 meters. A wonderful way to begin our time in Birmingham.

Birmingham is one of my favorite cities in the world. I have dear friends there, I enjoy the curry, and I have also had some personal experience in many of the bars and clubs in said community. The Arena Birmingham and Alexander Stadium are two great places to see track and field. Oh, and they tell me, that in Birmingham, English is spoken.

It does remind me of San Jose, California, where I have spent many formative and unformative years. I am assured, aside from some wind outsite and snow flurries, all who visit the World Indoors will have a great time in Birmingham. Watch for @runblogrun reports via video, audio and text during our five days in Birmingham.

Barshim_MutazR-WC17.jpgMutaz Essa Barshim, photo by

Kynard_Erik-USin18.JPGErik Kynard, photo by

Lasitskene_Maria-Brussels17.jpgMaria Lasitskene, photo by

Cunningham_Vashti1-USin18.JPGVashti Cunningham, photo by

High jumpers to take centre stage at Thursday's opening session

Twelve men and thirteen women will launch the 17th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham this Thursday evening, 1 March, when the two high jump finals take centre stage alongside the women's 3000m final at the opening session.

The unusual start to the championships will feature a new format for international level competition with the women's and men's high jump finals being held simultaneously for the first time.

In Portland, two years ago, the championships began with the men's and women's pole vault finals, when Jenn Suhr of USA won her first world title in front of a sold-out crowd at the Oregon Convention Center. She cleared a championship record of 4.90m while France's Renaud Lavillenie won the men's gold with a championship record of 6.02m.

The success of those events influenced the organisers of Birmingham 2018 to try something similar. The high jump events were chosen because the event's logo features a high jumper and, with world indoor silver medallist Robbie Grabarz and fomer world junior champion Morgan Lake, Britain has competitors with medal chances in both events.

Similarly, the double European indoor champion from Belgrade, Laura Muir, will be going for the first of two possible medals in Birmingham.

The championships' competition director Chris Cohen explained: "The pole vault competitions in Portland two years ago were very successful so we decided to continue with the high jump finals. Great Britain has a good history in this event and we have athletes in both finals. Also with [IAAF Male Athlete of the Year] Mutaz Essa Barshim jumping, it is going to be very exciting competition.

"We also wanted to have one final on the track so with Laura Muir in the women´s 3000m that will be very attractive for the locals."

The unusual format devised by Cohen and his colleagues means the two high jump mats will be placed on the infield with jumpers starting their run-ups from the bend of the track. The contests will start simultaneously, but as the bars rise and the fields are reduced, the remaining men and women will jump alternatively, giving the spectators a chance to focus attention on one jumper at a time.

Athletes can also choose to jump to music if they want to, played by a stadium DJ who will be present throughout the contests.

The Czech jumper, Michaela Hrubá, who won the world junior title outdoors in 2016, said she is looking forward to the unique format.

"I am glad the competition is on Thursday so I will have the time to support my teammates in other events later on," said the 20-year-old who is among the top six in the field. "We usually have our final on the last day of the championships so this is a nice change. I am looking forward to the whole competition."

Italian jumper Alessia Trost said she was "pretty curious" about the contest too. "I hope it is going to be fun," said Trost, who won the European indoor silver three years ago.

Both events feature reigning outdoor world champions. Maria Lasitskene, whose 2.04m heads the world indoor lists, will be favourite in the women's event, while Barshim goes in the men's, looking to regain the men's title he won in 2014. He leads the men's rankings with 2.38m this season ahead of authorised neutral athlete Danil Lysenko.

Vashti Cunningham is also here to defend women's title she won on home soil in Portland, although the defending men's champion, Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy, is absent.

Thursday's opening session will conclude with the women's 3000m final when the world leader and defending champion, Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, takes on local star Muir.

Official start lists will be available after the technical meeting at 10:00 on Thursday 1 March.

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