First Off, What Even Are Indoor Athletics?
Most people aren’t familiar with indoor athletics, so here are the basics:
- An indoor track is half the size of an outdoor one at just 200m, which makes for much more exciting long distance races. The straights are also half the size, so moves have to be quickly and decisively.
- There is a 60m track in the middle of the 200m track for the sprinters and sprint hurdlers.
- The indoor season is usually between January and the beginning of March.
- Some events such as javelin, hammer and discus throws are not competed indoors because those objects could easily land in the crowd and seriously injure someone.
- Indoor athletics are not in the Olympics at the moment, and they probably won’t ever be. Athletes use the indoor season as a stepping stone to the outdoor season, and an indoor stadium can’t hold very many people.
One of the best things about indoor running is that tactics are used in more races. For example, in the 400m, the runners break from their lanes after the first lap. They all try to get to the front after the break because then they have the inside line, meaning the other athletes have to go around them if they want to go ahead. This means that often the best tacticians and more experienced athletes win more races than the fastest runners.
When and How Can I Watch?
This year’s championships will be held in Glasgow from March 1st – 3rd. There are still a few tickets available for the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions (buy here), but the morning sessions are just the qualifying rounds. Besides, you can just watch all the action from the comfort of your own home!
Friday ~ 9:30-14:00 and 18:00-22:00
Saturday ~ 9:30-13:00 and 17:30-21:15
Sunday ~ 10:00-13:00 and 17:30-20:00.
Friday ~ 09:45 – 11:00, 13:00 – 13:45 and 18:50 – 22:00
Saturday~ 16:30 – 17:45 and 19:20 – 21:00
Sunday ~ 09:45 – 13:30 and 17:45 – 21:00.
Who are the athletes to watch at the European Indoors?
Katarina Johnson-Thompson (KJT) in the pentathlon (Fri 10:05 GMT)
When the very successful Jessica Ennis-Hill retired in 2016, it put a lot of pressure on KJT to be a worthy successor, which hurt her mental health. She decided to make a big change to get back on track- she changed her coach to Frenchman Bertrand Valcin and moved to his training group in France. This change started to pay dividends last year when KJT won gold in the Pentathlon at the World Indoor Championship, gold in the Commonwealth Games Heptathlon and silver in the European Championship Heptathlon, where she lost out to the Olympic Champion Nafi Thiam.
The pentathlon suits KJT very well as it includes her two best events the high jump and long jump and excludes her weaker event- the javelin. She is very likely to triumph in Glasgow as Thiam is absent due to injury.
Jakob Ingebrigston in the 1500m (Sun 20:01 GMT)
This Norwegian teenage superstar had an incredible 2018. He won the silver medal in the World Junior Championships, and then went on to beat his two older brothers and best of Europe at the European Championship – in both the 1500 metres and 5000 metres. Now he has the eyes of the world watching to see if he can continue this extraordinary trajectory. So far, he has not disappointed as he beat the brand new Indoor 1500m World Record Holder, Samuel Tefera, in Dusseldorf earlier this month.
Katerina Stefanidi vs Holly Bradshaw vs Anzhelika Sidorova in the Pole Vault (Sun 18:05 GMT)
The Women’s Pole Vault is set to be a cracking competition with most of the world’s best vaulters residing in Europe. Stefanidi (GRE) is the World, Olympic and double European Champion, so she is clearly a championship performer. However, she hasn’t been vaulting so well this season. Sidorova (ANA), however, is the World Leader with her vault of 4.91m in Madrid, which means she is probably the favourite. Bradshaw (GBR) has also been vaulting very well this season. She won her first senior medal last year at the European Championships, and her confidence has grown exponentially. It will be a tight and exciting competition that will most likely come down to which athlete clears the most heights on their first attempt.
Laura Muir in the 1500m (Sun 20:12 GMT) & 3000m (Fri 21:40 GMT)
Like Jakob, this Scottish pocket rocket had an amazing 2018. She was a two-time medallist at the World Indoors, she became the European Champion over 1500m, she won the 1500m Diamond League Title and, to top it all off, she graduated from Glasgow University with a degree in Veterinary Medicine. It looks like that success is going to continue in 2019 as she recorded the third-fastest indoor mile of all time at the Birmingham Grand Prix. The home crowd will definitely help Muir in her endeavour to defend both of her titles.
All in all, it should be a fantastic championship. There will be some familiar faces and some newer ones. If the London 2017 World Championships and the Birmingham 2018 World Indoors are anything to go by, the Brits know how to put on a brilliant athletics event.
Featured image via Glasgow 2019