October 22, 2021

World Indoor Tour: Dina Asher-Smith makes her comeback

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Indoor athletics at Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe has hosted indoor athletics meetings for the past 35 years
Date: 29 January Time: 17:40 GMT Venue: Europahalle Karlsruhe
Coverage: Streamed live on BBC iPlayer, Red Button and the BBC Sport website. Highlights on BBC One from 13:45 on Saturday, 30 January.

The future of the Tokyo Olympics is still in doubt, with uncertainly one thing the world’s elite athletes can do without.

With less than six months until the flame is scheduled to be lit, they have to commit to their campaigns with full confidence and belief.

The World Indoor Tour is the elite contenders’ first stop, and it includes the return to action of one of Britain’s brightest medal hopes…

Dina’s back

Dina Asher-Smith
Asher-Smith opted to take a year out of top-level competition in 2020

The devastation of 2020’s sporting calendar could not be more neatly summed up than by Dina Asher-Smith’s schedule.

She came into the year off the back of world gold and silver medals in the 200m and 100m respectively. She expected to be competing for a sprint double in front of the eyes of the world.

Instead she ran just three times last year, all low-key 150m club races, at the same London track that she has trained at since she was eight.

“I made it very clear in 2020 that I wasn’t just going to race for racing’s sake, especially when one of the downsides of racing was that you could potentially catch a life-altering virus,” she told Athletics Weekly this month.external-link

Instead she focused on making sure she was mentally ready for a period in which, all being well, she will compete in Tokyo this year, at World Championships in Eugene and Budapest in 2022 and 2023 and then another Olympics in Paris in 2024.

On Friday, though, she will return to the track. In front of empty stands and alongside high-class opposition, she’ll run in a 60m race in the German city of Karlsruhe.

Elsewhere on the card Wales’ Melissa Courtney-Bryant takes on Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, world champion and world record holder in the steeplechase, over 3,000m flat.

Andrew Pozzi, one of Britain’s best performers in a disjointed 2020 season, is due to go in the 60m hurdles, while Sophie McKinna, who was the first British woman to reach a world shot put final in 36 years at Doha 2019, is also on the entry list.

What is the World Athletics Indoor League?

Karlsruhe is the first of five elite-level multi-discipline events that are part of an expanded international indoor circuit.

29 January Karlsruhe, Germany
9 February Lievin, France
13 February New York, USA
17 February Torun, Poland
24 February Madrid, Spain

With the World Indoor Championships postponed until 2023 and the British Indoors cancelled the series will be one of the few chances for elite athletes to sharpen their race pace before action moves outdoors in the run-up to Tokyo.

Like the Diamond League, there will be standings running through the indoor seasons with athletes with the best three performances in selected disciplines earning a $10,000 (£7,300) bonus.

Boston normally hosts a World Indoor Tour event but this year the Reggie Lewis Center is being used as a mass vaccination site, delivering injections to combat Covid-19. The event on 13 February has been switched to Staten Island in New York.

Records fall elsewhere

Hugues Fabrice Zango
Hugues Fabrice Zango is based in France and won world triple-jump bronze in Qatar in 2019

Several athletes have already underlined their Olympic credentials indoors this season.

Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango became the first athlete to jump over 18m indoors as he set a new indoor triple-jump world record in France this month.

Meanwhile, American Olympic shot put champion Ryan Crouser broke the 32-year-old indoor world record in Arkansas on Sunday with a throw of 22.82m.

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