Deji Ogeyingbo wrote this piece on the top five African athletes to watch out for at the World Indoor Championships. The World Indoors is in Glasgow, Scotland, from March 1-3, 2024. 

Deji will be covering the World Champs for World Athletics and RunBlogRun in Glasgow. 

Top five Africans to watch out for at this year’s World Indoor Championships in Glasgow

Africa is not known for its dominant indoor performance primarily because of its lack of races and circuits. However, the continent isn’t short of the quality of athletes it brings to the fore.

For the first time in its history, Ethiopia topped the medals table at the last World Indoors in Belgrade, Serbia taking home four Gold, three Silver, and two Bronze. Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda were the only countries featured on the medals table last time.

This year’s World Indoor Championships will take place in Glasgow, and Africa will look to improve. Here are the top African stories to watch out for in the Scottish Capital.

Gudaf Tsegay is set to make history in Glasgow.

It’s hard to see a scenario where Gudaf Tsegay does not win the women’s 3000m title in Glasgow. Considering that her country, Ethiopia, has won nine of the last 10 titles over the distance at the championships, the world indoor 1500m champion and outdoor 10,000m champion will look to keep that streak running.

Gudaf Tsegay celebrates her 5000m WR of 14:00.21! photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

The newly minted world record holder in the outdoor 5000m will have the opportunity to win another indoor title in Glasgow, but also a chance to break Genzebe Dibaba’s world indoor record of 8:16.60. As always, she came close to taking it down in Leivin earlier in the month when she ran 8:17.11.

Also, if Tsegay triumphs in Glasgow, it would mean she has won four global titles across four different distances across the space of two years.

Ese Brume returns to her first hunting ground.

Ese Brume is a very consistent performer in the women’s Long Jump. The Nigerian, who boasts of an Olympic bronze, world outdoor and indoor silver, and world outdoor bronze, has a knack for coming big at major championships despite not churning out big performances before them.

That has been her special point, and Glasgow offers her a chance to add to her collection of medals, perhaps her first gold medal.

Ese Brune, 2022 African Championships, photo by Deji Ogeyingbo

Without Romania’s Alina Rotaru-Kottmann pushing her down to fourth place in the final round, she would have secured her second-world outdoor bronze in Budapest last year.

With a season-best of 6.84m and a lifetime best of 7.17m, she stands out as one of the top performers in the field. Aside from Davis-Woodhall, she’s the only entrant to boast a personal best beyond the seven-meter mark.

A trio of Ethiopians aim to keep the 1500m title for themselves

Led by

Freweyni Hailu ran 3:55.28 WL/PB at the ORLEN Copernicus Cup, photo by Lukasz Szelag

, Diribe Welteji, and Birke Haylom, Ethiopia presents a formidable lineup poised to defend its women’s 1500m title for the third consecutive edition. There’s even talk of a potential second consecutive medal sweep.

The Ethiopian contingent for the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow benefits from Hailu’s wild card entry, earned through her overall victory in this year’s World Athletics Indoor Tour. Alongside Welteji and Haylom, they aim to emulate the success of past champions like Genzebe Dibaba in 2018 and Gudaf Tsegay in 2022.

 

Hailu, a versatile athlete, secured 800m silver in Belgrade two years ago and followed up with a fourth-place finish in the 1500m at the World Championships in Oregon, matching her performance at the Tokyo Olympics.

Starting the year strong, Hailu claimed victory in the mile at the World Road Running Championships in Riga, narrowly edging out Welteji. She continued her winning streak with impressive performances, including a 1500m triumph in Torun and Lievin. Her time of 3:55.28 in Torun places her third on the world all-time list, just behind Tsegay’s record.

Welteji, on the other hand, has been a consistent presence at the forefront of middle-distance running. She secured second place behind Hailu in both 1500m races, posting impressive times that rank her among the all-time best. With her recent world mile title and silver in the 1500m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Welteji is eager to add another global gold to her collection.

Samuel Tefera looking for a third crown in Glasgow.

Though not a frequent racer in recent times, Samuel Tefera still commands attention at the World Indoor Championships. The 24-year-old Ethiopian is on the cusp of history, aiming to secure his third consecutive world indoor 1500m title in Glasgow. Despite his limited appearances on the track, Tefera’s talent makes him a formidable contender in the field in Glasgow.

Six years ago, Tefera made a significant mark on the indoor track scene in Birmingham. At the tender age of 18 and with only a handful of indoor races under his belt, he clinched his first world indoor crown.

Samuel Tefera takes WIC Belgrade 2022 1,500m, photo by World Athletics.

The following year, Tefera returned to Birmingham with even greater ambitions. In a stunning finishing display, he shattered the world record in the 1500m with a remarkable time of 3:31.04. Although his record was later surpassed by Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Tefera’s achievement solidified his status as one of the sport’s rising stars.

In Belgrade two years ago, Tefera once again showcased his dominance on the indoor track. He secured victory once more, setting a championship record of 3:32.77 in the 1500m. He opened his 2024 campaign with a 3000m win in Astana in a PB of 7:33.80. He then traveled to Torun, where he won the 1500m in 3:34.61 before an eighth-place finish when stepping back up to the 3000m in Lievin.

Ferdinand Omanyala faces a huge challenge from the Americans.

Since bursting into the scene in 2021, Ferdinand Omanyala has continued to grow in limps and bounds. The Kenyan is the reigning Commonwealth and African Champion while also holding the African Record in the 100m. However, he would be looking to become the second African to win the men’s 60m at the world indoors since Nigeria’s Olusoji Fasuba won it in Valencia in 2008.

Ferdinand Omanyala, photo by Athletics Kenya

Omanyala took 0.03 off his own national 60m record in clocking 6.51 to win in Bercy on 11 February and will hope to shave more of it in Glasgow when he takes on some of the very best in the event. The likes of Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman- the world record holder in the event are undoubtedly the favorites for the win as the former has the world lead with 6.43s.

Last time out in Belgrade, Omanyala got to the Semifinal. He will be hoping to get on the podium this time around.

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