Femke Bol takes the stage

World record holder Femke Bol is set to compete on the second day of the European Athletics Indoor Championships.

The second day of the European Athletics Indoor Championships will kickstart the pentathlon races as well. Nafissatou Thiam, who did not compete during the indoor season of 2023, will commence her first championship since she began training with Michael Van Der Plaetsen this year. Belgian pentathlete who won gold in Belgrade 2017 and Torun 2021 begins her quest for a third European indoor title in Istanbul. The biggest challenge she faces comes from another Belgian, Noor Vidts. Vidts, who won silver in Torun 113 points behind Thiam, became the world indoor champion last year in Belgrade by breaking the Belgian national record. Andrianna Sulek is another top contender in the line-up. The Polish pentathlete, who improved the national record she set in Belgrade last year by nine points to 4860 during the 2023 national championships, came in third behind Thiam and Vidts in 2022 World Indoor Athletics Championships and the European Championships in Munich. Saga Vanninen, who is off to a good start to the indoor season, improved Satu Ruotsalainen’s 35-year-old Finnish U23 record by 122 points with a staggering 4541. Sofie Dokter, who advanced her personal best mark by 340 points this season and led the Dutch National Athletics Indoor Championships, is another young star who will be drawing spotlights.

Two-time defending European Indoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou is aiming to become the first long jumper to win three gold medals since Hans Baumgartner in 1971, 1973 and 1977. Tobias Montler arrived in Istanbul with the 8.19 he leapt in Stockholm in January, a mark which is right behind that of Tentoglou, who did not lose in any European championship -indoor or outdoor- since 2019. Last year’s European outdoor bronze-medallist Jules Pommery has a season best mark of 7.96. Furthermore, Jaime Guerra stands out as the primary challenger of the usual suspects, with his personal best mark of 8.08 this season.

Tina Sutej, who cleared 4.82 in Ostrava early February, will take part in women’s pole vault in Istanbul as the only European to have surpassed 4.80 this season. Last year’s World Indoor and European bronze-medallist Sutej will be challenged mostly by Wilma Murto, the surprise European champion of last year. Murto is one of the two other pole vaulters who have cleared 4.70 this season, alongside Amalie Svabikova. The Czech athlete, who is the world U20 champion of the year 2018, cleared a personal best mark of 4.72 in Ostrava mid-February. Turkey’s Buse Arıkazan, who has a season best of 4.30, will also take part in the women’s pole vault qualifications.

In men’s 400m, gold-medallists of the last two editions of the European Athletics Indoor Championships stand out as favourites. 2019 champion Karsten Warholm, having run 45.31 and 45.51 this February demonstrated his claim as the biggest favourite. Oscar Husillos, who won the gold medal in Torun two years ago in the absence of Warholm, clocked 45.58 in Madrid mid-February, which was a personal best. Isayah Boers, who ran his first sub-46 with 45.72 in the Dutch National Athletics Indoor Championships, is also among the favourites for a medal in Istanbul.

The defending champion Femke Bol, who improved the 400m indoor world record which stood for more than four decades by 0.33 seconds from 49.62 to 49.26, is certainly the biggest favourite to win the gold. Bol’s teammate from 4×400 relay team Lieke Klaver ran a personal best of 50.34 this season and laid a claim for a spot on the podium. Anna Kielbasinska who ran 51.33 in Torun and former European U20 champion Lada Vondrova who clocked a personal best time of 51.57 are also among the medal favourites in women’s 400 meters.

Patricia Mamona jumped a dashing 14.41 this season and showed that she looks in shape to defend her women’s triple jump title in Istanbul. Dariya Derkach, who won her sixth national title in Italy with a 14.25 jump this season and home favourite Tuğba Danışmaz who leapt to 14.13 and 14.12 in 2023 are also on the lookout for a spot on the podium. Danışmaz’s 14.13 in Paris also stands out as her season best mark. Kira Wittman, whose personal best came in the German national championship in February where she won the title with a 14.08 jump, will take part in her first major event.

Laura Muir, the Euroepan Indoor champion of 2017 and 2019, stands as the favourite to win gold in women’s 1500 in Istanbul with the 4:03.07 mark she ran in February. Another British runner, Katie Snowden also stood out with a personal best of 4:03.98 she ran in New York early February. Esther Guerrero (4:06.70), Ellie Baker (4:06.73) and Sinyatehu Vissa (4:07.14), the three other athletes who ran their personal bests this season, are also looking for a spot on the podium by taking on Muir and Snowden.

In the final race of the morning session of the second day, Muijinga Kambundji, Ewa Swoboda and Daryll Neita will race in the qualification heats of women’s 60m. Muijinga Kambundji, who is the defending champion and a European Indoor bronze-medallist in 2017, will race for her first European title in Istanbul. The Swiss sprinter begins her campaign with the 7.03 she clocked in February. Daryll Neita, who ran a personal best of 7.05 this season in the absence of Dina Asher-Smith, is also a British medal hope. Ewa Swoboda, the European indoor champion of 2019, clocked her season best in Karlsruhe late January with 7.09. Lisa Mayer, who has a season best mark of 7.12 is the biggest German hope for a spot on the podium in the absence of Gina Luckenkemper, the European 100m champion.