In my list of 10 things to watch for 2020, I tried to underscore the importance of the Olympics in Canadian athletics. To do this, I tried to explain that the interest of the sport is at an all-time high and that is where athletes make a name for themselves in the eye of the public and prove to sponsors that an increase in their contract is worth it.
Therefore, qualifying for the Olympics is every Canadian athlete’s dream. It is what drives them go get out the door, lace up the shoes and run – thousands of kilometres every year.
With the Olympics as the principle objective of every track athlete, the indoor season in 2020 has the potential to be far more important than ever before.
For readers who may not be aware, the athletics indoor season usually spans from January to March culminating in the World Indoors, which this year will be in Nanjing, China. Within the indoor season itself, there are some pretty big events. In North America, the largest is certainly the Milrose Games – where the Wannamaker Mile is run. In Europe, the World Athletics Indoor Tour draws some of the biggest names from around the globe with the goal of culminating in the World Indoors.
In terms of type of races, indoor seasons provide athletes with an opportunity to step up or down in distance (depending on the athlete’s focus) and develop their speed or strength work. Then, to begin outdoor track season in April, athletes begin to compete in their distance of choice.
As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are even earlier than normal, athletes will put more attention on their indoor season. It is now more important than ever to ensure that you have the standards early in the process in order to get a clean run at the Games. Knowing you are going to be named to the team, for example like Canada’s Mo Ahmed, allows you to tactfully develop your build. Therefore, getting the standard early is most helpful.
Just last week at the Boston University John Thomas meet, we saw a 5,000M race targeting the Olympic standard on a 200M indoor track, an attempt rarely seen. I believe this is purely due to the fact that Olympic teams will be named earlier this cycle compressing the time allowed for athletes to hit the standard.
Not only will athletes be looking to indoor seasons to achieve these standards, but it also means that the opportunity on the outdoor tracks will be fewer (especially for events not included in the Diamond League). Take the 5,000M or 10,000M for example, where there are only a select number of races to achieve the standard; athletes who usually like to run a couple ‘B’ races before taking on their goal race must now be at the top of their game exiting the indoor season in order to maximize their opportunity.
Outside of Olympic qualifying, the indoor season provides an opportunity for the top runners around the world to size up their competition before they head to Tokyo. The Nanjing track will be witness to some titan battles between the likes of Hassan, Muir and Debues-Stafford or Brazier against Rotich – both previews of what we expect to see in Tokyo.
Already, at the writing of this article, we have seen some MEGA performances from Canadian athletes on the indoor surface, including Julie-Anne Steahli’s world indoor standard run at BU, Jessica’s two-mile Canadian record and Justyn Knight’s dominant win opening his season with a 3:59 mile. I expect these types of performances to continue for Canadian athletes in 2020.
If I have convinced you that you should pay attention to the indoor season, here are the meets you should watch:
February 8 – Millrose Games (preview to come)
February 15 – Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow
February 19 – Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais
March 13 – 15 – World Indoor Championships (preview to come)
Of note, here are the standards for the World Indoors:
|4:09.00 / 4:28.50 (Mile)||4:02.00||
You can access a full list of the Athletics Canada ranking, here.
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