Training day at the Torun Arena, before the opening. Leszek Szymanski / EFE
During the pandemic, perhaps the brightest generation of European athletics, youths, zoomers , born on the border of centuries, has rapidly matured and some already astonished in the Doha Open Air World Cup in Autumn 2019, eager to make the indoor Europeans (from Thursday 4 to Sunday 7, in Torun, the city of Copernicus, next to the Vistula, Poland) into the ideal showcase for their feats just over four months before the Tokyo Games, which will be its great stage.
The Torun Europeans are, of course, the first major international athletics competition since Doha, which in 2020 had to suspend the World Indoor Championships and postpone the Games for one year. They are attended by Spain with a team of 36 athletes (18 men and 18 women) already well established, three of them already champions in the previous Europeans on the indoor track, those of Glasgow 2019: the heptathlete Jorge Ureña, Álvaro de Arriba in 800m and Ana Peleteiro in triple. The Galician arrives with the third best European brand of the year (14.21m, 39 centimeters from the leader, the Greek Papahristou); De Arriba has just been proclaimed champion of Spain, although two days later a mark of 1m 45.66s put Murcian Mariano García, fourth European of the year, in orbit, after the usual favorites of Torun: the British Jamie Webb (1m 44.54s), the Swede Andreas Kramer (1m 45.09s) and the inexhaustible Pole, Adam Kszczot (1m 45.22s), for a test that, like all mid-distance events, will be played under the ghostly and ghostly air of the beneficial effects of carbon foam and plate spikes, so comfortable and fast that for many specialists they are the real reason behind so many best marks and national records as they have been achieved in the indoor track season; Ureña has not played a heptathlon for a year and will have to defend his title against the best world combiner of the moment, the decathlon champion and world record holder Kevin Mayer, a Frenchman who has not played a heptathlon since he won the Birmingham Indoor World Cup in 2018. Other established figures will be the Italian jumper Gianmarco Tamberi (2.35m this winter) and the Belgian pentathlete Nafissatou Thiam, Olympic champion in Rio, who returns to the competition, in which the Spanish María Vicente will be in her second European, after two years of hiatus due to injuries
In the women's 1,500m the Spanish hope is called Esther Guerrero, third among the participants, who at age 31, and after two sixth places in the 800m finals of the last two Europeans on the indoor track , you can find the medal that rewards your perseverance, work and quality.
So prematurely, already at the 2018 Berlin Europeans, they showed their talent, that the Swede Mondo Duplantis (record pole vault world cyclist, 6.18m, in February 2020, and 6.15m outdoors in August) already looks like a veteran, and has just turned 21 years old. This winter he has already jumped 6.10m and his confrontation (Sunday, starting at 17.05, TDP) with the old French Renaud Lavillenie (34 years old, former world record holder, with 6.16m in 2014, and 6.06m a week ago ) promises to be one of the most spectacular moments of the championship, although less emotionally charged for Spanish fans than those two in which the national midfielders (Jesús Gómez, newcomer Ignacio Fontes, the brand new Mohamed Katir and Adel Mechaal) will collide against the Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, other than Duplantis, already seems a veteran and is only 20 years old
The youngest of the three Ingebrigtsen brothers rose to fame at age 18 with his double victory, 1,500m-5,000m, in the Europeans from Berlin. Although in the Glasgow 19 indoor Europeans, after winning the 3,000m he was surpassed by the Pole Lewandowski in the 1,500m, the form he has shown this winter, his training sessions greatly strengthened with two concentrations of a month at the 2,300m of Sierra Nevada, his 3m 31.80s in the 1,500m, European record and fifth best in world history on the indoor track, make him the only favorite to win the 1,500m (after the semifinal on Thursday, final on Friday, 21.35) against practically the same rivals from two years ago (Lewandowski and Jesús Gómez from Burgos, bronze then) and the 3,000m, a distance in which he has not competed for two years (final, Sunday, 17.52) against the Spanish Katir (best European brand of the year , 7m 35.29s) and Mechaal, distance champion in Belgrade 17.
Like Duplantis and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who is only 19 years old, already astonished the world as soon as she turned 18, in the high jump final of the Doha World Cup, in which, with equal marks (2, 04m) Russian Maria Lasitskene, absent from Torun like all Russian athletics, sanctioned, only surpassed her by fewer voids. A month ago, the Ukrainian jumped 2.06m, and no one would be surprised that before the end of the year the world record of 2.09m of the Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova in 1987 passed into history and in her hands.
Three other very young women will use Torun as his first launching ramp, are three newcomers led by the Italian Larissa Iapichino, the daughter of Fiona May, the jumper who defeated Niurka Montalvo in the World Cup in Seville 99, who at 18 years old has jumped 6.91m, junior world record (beating Heike Drechsler) and equaling the Italian record his mother set 23 years ago. The other expected phenomena are the very slight Dutch Femke Bol, who at 21 years old runs the 400m in 50.64s, and the British Keely Hodgkinson, 19 years old and 1m 59.03s in the 800m, the test in which the young woman will debut. Spanish her age Daniela García.