Obiri, Birgen handed 2018 World Indoor wilcards


Hellen Obiri wins the New Balance Indoor Meeting in Boston, USA last Sunday. She is ...
Hellen Obiri wins the New Balance Indoor Meeting in Boston, USA last Sunday. She is aiming at another World Indoor Tour victory in Karlsruhe, Germany. PHOTO/IAAF

Olympics 5000m women silver medallist, Hellen Obiri and Bethwell Birgen have booked their places at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 with wildcards after winning their events in the recently concluded inaugural 2017 World Indoor Tour.

According to the IAAF, five men and six women– have booked their place at the biennial global indoor showpiece after the conclusion of the first ever five-meeting World Indoor Tour last weekend in the host city of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

Obiri returned to winning ways after defeat in Karlsruhe, Germany and set a Kenyan record as the 2017 World Indoor Tour closed at the Birmingham Grand Prix on Saturday night when she blasted to 8:29.41 for victory over 3000m to secure the Tour title.

Despite finishing third, Birgen won the Tour in the men 1500m in a race where American Ben Blankenship produced a world leading performance on the night to take the season ending race.

“In addition to a winner-takes-all USD20,000 (Ksh 2,070,000) bonus, the 11 individual discipline winners will also automatically qualify for the next edition of the IAAF World Indoor Championships by ‘wild card’.

“This means, for instance, that in Birmingham there will possibly be three Kenyan athletes in each of the men’s 1500m and women’s 3000m, three South Africans in the men’s long jump, three Jamaicans in the women’s 60m and three US athletes in the women’s 60m hurdles,” the IAAF wrote on their website.

Previously only two athletes per nation per discipline have been allowed to enter the IAAF World Indoor Championships, but there is now a chance that, for the first time in history, one nation could sweep the medals in an individual event.

The non-scoring disciplines in this year’s World Indoor Tour will become the 11 scoring disciplines for next year’s World Indoor Tour, creating a total of 22 wild card entries for the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

The final decision about entering an individual athlete for the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 still remains with the individual IAAF member federation but it is possible that several national teams will be boosted by the success of their athletes on the World Indoor Tour.

Obiri won the women 3000m world indoor title at the 2012 edition in Istanbul before taking silver two years later.

Birgen has not progressed past the heats of the 1500m at the 2012 edition in Istanbul and last year Oregon but finished eighth at the 2014 running in Sopot, Poland.

-Material from the IAAF used in this report

2018 World Indoor wildcards

Men

400m – Pavel Maslak (CZE)

1500m – Bethwel Birgen (KEN)

60m hurdles – Orlando Ortega (ESP)

High jump – Donald Thomas (BAH)

Long jump – Godfrey Mokoena (RSA)

Women

60m – Gayon Evans (JAM)

800m – Joanna Jozwik (POL)

3000m – Hellen Obiri (KEN)

Pole vault – Nicole Buchler (SUI)

Triple jump – Patricia Mamona (POR)

Shot put – Anita Marton (HUN)

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