By Harry King
The European Indoor Athletics Championships will start this Friday 1 March and conclude on Sunday 3. With 26 different events, there are lots to look out for from the Irish contingent, to the high quality of the field events and the competitiveness of the track events. Glasgow’s Emirates arena will host the event.
The last time Glasgow held the European Indoor Championships was 29 years ago when Domina Melinte (1500m), Rodin Gautlin (Pole Vault) and Heike Henkel (High Jump) were among those with a gold medal around their necks. The event still remains a huge attraction to some of Europe’s top athletes.
Among the potential medal prospects for Ireland include Ciara Mageean, Phil Healy, Mark English, Thomas Barr and many more. Last month in Athlone, Mageean smashed the indoor record for the 1500 meters with an impressive time of 4:06:78. This is a significant improvement on her previous best of 4:08:66. Complementing this, she also broke the indoor mile national record with a time of 4:28:31 at the Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston.
Phil Healy is in promising form ahead of the championships as she recently won the 400-meter event at the Vienna International Indoor meet. She recorded the fastest time by a European this year thus far, with a staggering time of 52.31. This is also the second fastest time in the world this year.
Thomas Barr, an outdoor European Bronze Medallist, is gearing up for his first indoor running Championships. He usually prefers to prepare for the outdoor season. However the World Championships in Doha this year will be held later due to the concern over high temperatures.
Speaking with RTÉ, Barr said, “It’ll be my first time doing an indoors where I’m going to a championship, and I love going to championships so I’m hoping that brings the best out of me on the flat.” Barr, who came in a nail-biting forth in the Rio Olympics, is focusing on the flat.
Mark English recently won an 800-meter event in the Athlone Arena. The man from Letterkenny dominated with a time of 1.46.94. He hit the qualifying time for the Glasgow Championships in impressive style.
In any European Championships, whilst the sprinters make the headlines it is probably the field events that really shine in terms of quality. In the Pole Vault, reigning Olympic Champion Katerina Stefanidi is looking to retain her title with the likes of Nikoleta Kyriakopoulu and Britain’s Holly Bradshaw. On the men’s side there is sure to be a high-flying battle between the Polish World Championship Runner Up Piotr Lisek and former Olympic Champion Renauld Lavillenie. That’s just the Pole Vault.
Other international stars include Laura Muir, Jacob Ingebrigtsen, Arthur Abele and Paulina Guba, all world-class athletes competing on the European scale. With the World Championships at the end of September and the Olympics next year in Tokyo, these Championships mark the start of a very important year for all athletes hoping to compete in Doha and in Tokyo.