Lavillenie, Spanovic, Lückenkemper plus unique men’s versus women’s discus
World pole vault record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France, Serbia’s World indoor long jump champion Ivana Spanovic, Germany’s European sprint silver medallist Gina Lückenkemper and Berlin’s Olympic discus champion Christoph Harting lead the line-up for Berlin’s sixth edition of the ISTAF INDOOR on February 1 next year with the meeting continuing its tradition for innovation by a debut hosting of a men’s versus women’s team discus.
7,000 tickets have already been sold and the organizers expect 12,000 spectators for the world’s biggest indoor athletics meeting. The programme consists of seven events: men’s and women’s 60m and 60m hurdles, men’s pole vault, women’s long jump and the debut discus team competition featuring men against women, four on each side.
The fans are guaranteed that the ISTAF INDOOR continues its tradition for memorable presentation in the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Pyrotechnics, music and light show will highlight the athletes. It’s a style which the meeting director Martin Seeber believes sets the meeting apart: “The unique format of the ISTAF INDOOR, with showbiz elements and our fantastic fans able to be so close, pushes the athletes to top class performances. Having the discus in an indoor arena is already unique. Now we want to give the fans, who will be in the thick of the action, an exciting team discus competition. I think they can expect a great evening.”
Renauld Lavillenie will be a familiar face to Berlin’s athletics fans. The current world indoor record holder in the men’s pole vault with 6.16m not only has three world indoor titles to his credit in addition to the Olympic gold won in London in 2012, he holds the meeting record with 6.02m from 2015 and remains the only vaulter to have cleared 6 metres in this arena. But he will not be able to rest on his laurels, having finished third in last year’s competition.
Anticipation will also be sharpened among the home fans for the women’s long jump where the reigning World indoor champion, Ivana Spanovic, meets Germany’s European champion this year, Malaika Mihambo. Spanovic has a best of 7.24m indoors and is also Olympic bronze medallist from Rio in 2016. She won the competition here with an impressive 6.87m in 2017. But she and Mihambo finished the outdoor season with a season’s best of 6.99m for joint second in the world season’s list, suggesting a close competition could put the meeting record of 6.95m in danger.
Gina Lückenkemper will carry the home fans’ hopes in the women’s 60m. The European 100m silver medallist this year achieved her fastest ever time of 7.11 in the last indoor season. Her compatriot Pamela Dutkiewicz should be a strong contender in the women’s 60m hurdles with a World championship bronze medal in 2017 and a European silver medal outdoors this year to her credit. Dutkiewicz ran 7.88 here last year. The meeting record is held by Australia’s reigning World champion Sally Pearson with 7.79.
The prime innovation this year will be the team discus competition, men versus women, four on each side with each taking six throws. The best distances achieved by each athlete will be added and the total will decide the outcome, with the women throwing their usual, lighter implement. The concept has found favour with competitors on either side: Christoph Harting, the reigning Olympic champion, described it as: “A cool idea. I think we men will win. We have more experience [throwing indoors]. ISTAF INDOOR is the only indoor meeting of its kind in the world and we’ve already experienced it five times, the women have done it just once.” One of his opponents on February 1, this year’s European bronze medallist Shanice Craft, likes the idea just as much but expects a different outcome: “Getting a team together and competing against the men is going to be great. No question who will be the stronger sex, us women will come out on top, we’re better at holding our nerve,” said the German.
Another innovation will be a Fan-Zone, where spectators can meet their track and field heroes and heroines. It’s part of the event’s style, as meeting director Martin Seeber confirms: “ISTAF INDOOR stands for elite sport, so close you can almost touch. Our aim is to continue to bring athletes and fans closer together, we want to have track and field stars and role models accessible.”
World premiere at the ISTAF INDOOR 2019: discus throw duel: “women vs. men”
First time in history: At the 6thISTAF INDOOR on Friday, the 1stof February 2019, at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, there will be a duel of the world’s best male and female discus throw athletes. Women or men: how will throw further? This kind of special discus throw competition is only one of the innovations which were presented by the organization committee on the 20thof November, 2018. Numerous track and field stars out of 7 disciplines will participate in the world’s largest indoor track and field meeting. For example Olympic champion Christoph Harting und his discus throw colleague Shanice Craft, Renaud Lavillenie (French pole vault athlete, current world record holder), Pamela Dutkiewicz (hurdle race) and Germany’s fastest woman: Gina Lückenkemper.
Meeting-director Martin Seeber: “The unique format of the ISTAF INDOOR with the show elements and the closeness of the fantastic supporters lead to the fact that the athletes are able to perform at their best. Discus throw at the Mercedes Benz Arena is a spectacle anyway. With the discus throw competition we want to provide the spectators, who sit very close to the athletes, an exciting team competition which promises a lot of entertainment and excitement. The spectators are able to look forward to having a great evening!”
Four women and four men, each one has six tries, will compete against each other. The current best results will be added to the team evaluation. “This is a really great idea!”, says Olympic champion Christoph Harting. “Let’s see who will be better. For the discus throw athletes the ISTAF INDOOR is the only indoor competition worldwide. The atmosphere is amazing- the ISTAF INDOOR is just fun for everybody”. Also Shanice Craft, 3rdplace at the European Championship and 1stplace at the German Championship 2018, is looking forward to participate in the competition. “Due to that competition, we will become members of a team and will challenge the men. That’s going to be great!” Shanice Craft triumphed the 2ndISTAF INDOOR and holds the unofficial indoor record with 62,07 meters. “I definitely want to stick up to that record. It has been an amazing experience 2015. The ISTAF INDOOR is just an awesome event!”
Not only Shanice Craft and Christoph Harting, but also a lot of other topstars from other disciplines have confirmed their participation ( 60 m sprint men, 60 m sprint women, 60 m hurdle race men, 60 m hurdle race women, long jump women, pole vault men). The French pole vault athlete Renaud Lavillenie, who holds the current world record, Germany’s fastest woman Gina Lückenkamper and Germany’s best hurdle run athlete Pamela Dutkiewicz will participate.
Stars very close: new fan area at the Mercedes Benz Arena
The discus throw competition “Women vs. men” is not the only new part of the program. Another innovation of the 6thISTAF INDOOR will be the new fan area at the Mercedes Benz arena, which will be arranged by the organizers. In that area, the spectators will be able to meet the athletes. Meeting director Martin Seeber: “The ISTAF INDOOR means professional sports very close to the spectators”. We want to reduce the distance between the spectators and the athletes. At track and field, we want stars and role models as close as possible. At the arena, we create a room where young and old fans can meet their idols, get autographs and take selfies.
ISTAF INDOOR IN FRONT OF 12,100 SPECTATORS IN BERLIN
Tatjana Pinto and Piotr Lisek produced the highlights at ISTAF INDOOR in Berlin. In front of 12,100 spectators in the capital’s Mercedes-Benz Arena the German sprinter took the 60 m with 7.13 seconds after producing a world lead of 7.08 in her heat before. Piotr Lisek showed he will be ready to go for what would be his first global title at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham (1st to 4th March). The Pole Vaulter from Poland took his event with 5.83 m.
While China’s sprinter Su Bingtian clocked a strong 6.55 in the 60 m Britain’s Andrew Pozzi showed fine form as well. He took the 60 m Hurdles with 7.58 seconds. Alina Talay of Belarus won the women’s hurdles with 7.89. Germany’s Nadja Käther took the Long Jump with 6.56 m and there was an upset in the final event of the night, when Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger was first in the Discus Throw with 63.91 m.
Last year’s ISTAF INDOOR winner Piotr Lisek did not start well in the Pole Vault when he only cleared his first height of 5.45 m at his second attempt. However the 25 year-old then went from strength to strength, clearing 5.60 m, 5.70 m and 5.78 m all with his first jump. There was already some pressure on world record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France, who passed 5.78 m, when Lisek took this height at his first attempt. However the Pole added more when he cleared 5.83 m with his second attempt. Lavillenie missed twice. So he now had to clear a world leading 5.88 m to win. But he had only one jump left after he passed his third attempt at 5.83. It did not work for the Frenchman, who finally finished third with 5.70.
Olympic Champion Thiago Braz da Silva was second with 5.70. He had cleared his three first heights all at his first attempt (5.45 m, 5.60 m 5.70 m) before failing at 5.78 m while Lavillenie needed two jumps to go over 5.60 m. Raphael Holzdeppe took fourth with 5.60 m and Canada’s Shawn Barber followed in fifth with the same height.
„I have now won this event for the second time. I like to come here, the crowd is awesome and the people support me,“ said Piotr Lisek who established a season’s best and is currently number two in the world behind Lavillenie (5.86). „My next competition will be in Cottbus and then I will prepare for the World Championships in Birmingham. I want to go there and I want to win. I also look forward to the Berlin European Championships in August. I live in Stettin, so it will not be far for my fans to come to Berlin and support me.“
China’s Su Bingtian showed that he will be ready for the World Indoors as well. He took the 60 m with a fine 6.55 seconds, the fastest time by an Asian sprinter this winter so far. „The race turned out really fine for me. It felt good competing at ISTAF INDOOR,“ Su said. Italy’s Filippo Tortu was second in 6.62 seconds – a personal best time, which he had already produced in his heat.
At the age of 41 Kim Collins (Saint Kitts and Nevis) continues to go strong. The world 100 m champion from 15 years ago ran 6.64 in Berlin and placed third in the final. „Last year, the London World Championships were my last championships outdoors. So this year Birmingham should be my last championships indoors. I do not know about outdoors yet. My son will be 20 years next year. I have had an extremely long career. But I still love it,“ said Kim Collins.
Britain’s Andrew Pozzi showed good form in the build-up to Birmingham. The reigning European indoor champion won the 60 m hurdles with 7.58 from Balazs Baji. The Hungarian, who had won at ISTAF INDOOR a year ago, clocked 7.61. Aurel Manga of France was third in 7.65. „I am very happy to have won here. It was my first ISTAF and I enjoyed the great atmosphere. It was a tough race,“ said Pozzi.
After attaching safety nets the Discus Throw was the final event of ISTAF INDOOR. It all pointed towards a German victory by Daniel Jasinski, who had been in the lead with a second round throw of 61.86 m. But in the final few throws of the competition that all changed. First Berlin’s local hero Robert Harting took the lead with 62.32. However an upset for the London Olympic Champion followed when Lukas Weisshaidinger of Austria produced a great 63.91. Daniel Jasinski then could not respond and had to settle for third place. Belgium’s Philip Milanov took fourth with 60.82. „I did never expect to win this one. It is unbelievable to beat Robert Harting,“ said Lukas Weisshaidinger.
Tatjana Pinto showed great early season form on Friday night. The 25-year-old sprinter took the first heat of the 60 m with a world lead of 7.08 seconds. She was only 0.01 off her personal best and just 0.08 away from Dutch meeting record holder Dafne Schippers, who ran 7.00 at ISTAF INDOOR two years ago.
In the final Pinto could not quite match her time, but she just edged to victory in 7.13 seconds, beating Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland who crossed the line in 7.14. In a very close race Michelle-Lee Ahye (Trinidad and Tobago) was third in 7.16 while Lisa Mayer took fourth with 7.17 and fellow-German Gina Lückenkemper followed in 7.19. Marie-Josee Ta Lou (Ivory Coast) had to settle for sixth with 7.22.
„I really looked forward to this meeting because of the tremendous atmosphere. I was able to stay relaxed and concentrated on myself. My big goal is the World Indoor Championships. It was a great start into my season in Berlin,“ said Tatjana Pinto.
Hopes for a German victory in the 60 m hurdles did not materialize as Alina Talay surged ahead. The multiple European champion from Belarus ran a fine time of 7.89 seconds. Germans Pamela Dutkiewicz and Cindy Roleder took second and third with both given the same time of 7.93. Sharika Nelvis from the US followed in fourth with 7.94.
„Today was my first international competition in 2018. I was really nervous. But now I am really satisfied coming first with such a time in a strong field,“ said Alina Talay. Another one who was very happy was Cindy Roleder who managed a fine comeback on international stage after a long injury lay-off. „I am really satisfied with my race. To run below eight seconds after my comeback is really amazing for me. I never dreamt of running that fast that early in the season. I would not mind my season to continue like that,“ said Roleder.
Performances in the Long Jump were slightly below par. There was a German winner here with Nadja Käther, who achieved 6.56 m in round three. Cuba’s Yariadmis Arguelles took second with 6.47 while Alexandra Wester of Germany was third (6.42). The US Olympic Champion Tianna Bartoletta had to settle for fourth with 6.38. She did start in the 60 m in between. But a fifth place in her heat with 7.33 was not enough to advance into the final.
Four Olympic Champions to light up Berlin’s ISTAF INDOOR
Four Olympic champions, five World champions and six European gold medallists will be in action at the fifth edition of the ISTAF INDOOR meeting in Berlin on Friday evening. Renaud Lavillenie of France and Brazil’s Thiago Braz da Silva, winners of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic titles respectively, will meet in the pole vault, while Tianna Bartoletta of the USA has set her sights just as high with a double start: the Olympic long jump and sprint relay champion will run the 60m as well as competing in her specialist field event. Special safety nets will be installed for the discus competition which closes the meeting and this promises to be another highlight with the presence of Berlin’s very own Olympic champion from the 2012 London Games, Robert Harting.
More than 12.000 tickets for the biggest indoor athletics meeting in the world have already been sold. The schedule comprises seven events: men’s and women’s 60m and 60m hurdles, women’s long jump, men’s pole vault and men’s discus. The indoor arena does not have a 200m oval track, hence the absence of other running events.
“Spectators can look forward to seven top quality events with the ISTAF INDOOR once again offering the prospect of thrilling sport. I’m especially delighted that, in addition to athletes of the highest international class, we’ll also have many young German athletes who are producing such strong performances at present and should put the established stars under pressure. For them – and for all the other European athletes – the ISTAF INDOOR will be the first significant test on the road to the European Championships in Berlin in August,” said the meeting director Martin Seeber.
EVENTS I STARS I FAVOURITES
The men’s pole vault has the strongest strength in depth of this year’s ISTAF INDOOR with two Olympic champions, Renaud Lavillenie from France, the 2012 gold medallist, Thiago Braz da Silva from Brazil, the 2016 winner and last year’s event winner Piotr Lisek from Poland. Lavillenie is the current world record holder with 6.16m and also the ISTAF INDOOR meeting record holder, having cleared 6.02m in Berlin two years ago. Lavillenie leads the current world rankings with 5.86m with Lisek second on 5.78m. The strong line-up also includes Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe, the 2013 World champion and Shawn Barber of Canada, winner of the world title in 2015.
60 m hurdles (Women) / Start of the heats: 06:20 pm
Two strong German contenders will be in action in the 60m hurdles in the shape of Pamela Dutkiewicz, the World Championship bronze medallist in London last year and Cindy Roleder who is making a comeback after a long absence because of injury. Their opponents include Alina Talay of Belarus, twice winner of the European Indoor title and Christina Manning from the USA.
Meeting record: Sally Pearson, Australia (7,79 Sec ., 2014)
Long jump (Women) / Start: 06:35 pm
Tianna Bartoletta plans a double bill at the ISTAF INDOOR by competing in the long jump as well as the sprint. She has already jumped 7.17m outdoors – that was at the Olympic Games in Rio – her indoor best is some way short of that mark with 6.80m. Bartoletta’s opponents on Friday will include the German long jumpers Sosthene Moguenara and Alexandra Wester. The latter holds the current meeting record with her leap of 6.95m in 2016.
Meeting record: Alexandra Wester, Germany (6,95 m, 2016)
60 m (Men) / Start of the heats: 06:50 pm
The only man to have achieved three victories at the ISTAF INDOOR is Kim Collins from the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Last year he had to settle for second place so the big question is: can the 41-year-old meeting record holder (6.50 in 2015) and crowd favourite win for the fourth time? The 2003 World champion at 100m takes on rivals who include China’s record holder Su Bingtian, whose best is also 6.50. Other sprinters to watch should be Julian Reus of Germany and Churandy Martina from the Netherlands.
Meeting record: Kim Collins, St. Kitts and Nevis (6,50 Sec., 2015)
60 m (Women) / Start of the heats: 07:10 pm
Germany’s fastest sprinters: Gina Lückenkemper, Lisa Mayer and Tatjana Pinto will be able to test their form against each other in the 60m. They’ll have top calibre international competition as well in the shape of the double Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta from the USA, sprint relay and long jump gold medallist in Rio and Marie Josée Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast who came away from the 2017 World Championships with silver medals in both 100m and 200m. “The great atmosphere at the ISTAF INDOOR will make it a fantastic experience as ever. The fans will see fast times,“ said Gina Lückenkemper, who improved her best last year for the 100m outdoors to 10.95.
Meeting record: Dafne Schippers, Netherlands (7,00 Sec., 2016)
60 m hurdles (Men) / Start: 06:30 pm
The favourites for the 60m hurdles are the current European Indoor champion Andrew Pozzi of Britain and last year’s event winner Balázs Baji of Hungary. The latter won the bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships in London.
Meeting record: Dimitri Bascou, France (7,41 Sec ., 2016)
Discus Throw (Men) / Start: 09:05 pm
The discus will showcase the skills of the local hero Robert Harting. His brother Christoph, surprise winner of the Olympic title in Rio in 2016, has had to withdraw because of jaw surgery and consequent loss of training. Robert Harting begins his final year of competition with the ISTAF INDOOR in Berlin on Friday. Among his rivals will his compatriot Martin Wierig, the meeting record holder with 64.82m in 2014 and Austria’s Lukas Weißhaidinger.
Meeting record: Martin Wierig, Germany (64,82 m, 2014)
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The sports year 2018 starts hot! The 5th ISTAF INDOOR is already taking place on January 26th, 2018. Nowhere else the spectators are closer to the action, nowhere else emotions are more tangible than at the world’s largest track and field indoor meeting at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.
And fans are also already looking forward to the 77th ISTAF on September 2nd at the Berlin Olympic Stadium. The oldest track and field meeting in the world becomes the big stage for Germany’s top athlete: Robert Harting finishes his great career at the 77th ISTAF and enters the discus ring for the very last time in his “living room”.
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