Torun (Poland) (AFP)

After a year marked by postponements and cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the major athletics championships are back with the Euro indoor, from Thursday to Sunday in Torun (Poland), which promises in particular a tantalizing pole vault duel between Renaud Lavillenie and Armand Duplantis.

Olympic Games, European Championships, Indoor Worlds: the three major events of 2020 have all gone by the wayside, Covid-19 obliges, reducing the season to the bare minimum.

The Torun weekend, the first major meeting since the Doha Worlds in September 2019, is therefore supposed to act as a kind of return to normalcy, despite the closed door and a strict health protocol.

If the World Indoor Championships in Nanjing (China), postponed from 2020 to 2021, were finally postponed to 2023 by the International Athletics Federation, the indoor circuit was able to take place as planned with no less than 24 events in two month.

For the Europeans, Torun is the culmination of this winter exercise and the opportunity to test themselves five months before the Olympics even if several top names on the continent have shortened, or even skipped, the indoor season (Dina Asher-Smith, Elliot Giles, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Sifan Hassan, Ekaterini Stefanidi, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, Orlando Garcia) to head straight for Tokyo.

- "Piss off Mondo" -

As for the Russian athletes, whose Federation (Rusaf) has been suspended since 2015 due to a vast institutionalized doping scandal, they will not be present in Poland.

The process for them to obtain Neutral Athlete (ANA) status to participate in international competitions is temporarily frozen, with Rusaf accused of aiding high jumper Danyl Lysenko in providing false documents to justify a breach of his duties. anti-doping whereabouts obligations.

However, there will be plenty of highlights in Torun, starting with the pole vault.

The two highest jumpers in history, Armand Duplantis (6.18 m) and Renaud Lavillenie (6.16 m), will do battle in a competition that promises to be grandiose.

If the Swedish prodigy (21 years old) remained on his 2020 standards with a jump to 6.10 m, on February 24 in Belgrade, the 2012 Olympic champion found him at 34 years old and flies again above of 6 m (6.06 m, Saturday in Aubière), a first since March 2016. The Frenchman will seek a 5th European title in indoor.

"I will not be the favorite, but the objective will be to piss off + Mondo + (the nickname of Duplantis, note) as much as possible. I have never been so close to being able to beat him, even if he has a margin in front of me, "he says.

- The record in the air?


There could therefore be a record in the air, just like in the high jump with the young Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh (19), revelation of the Worlds in 2019 (2nd), who achieved on February 2 the third performance of the indoor story (2.06m), three centimeters from Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova's old world record (2.09m, August 30, 1987).

In heptathlon, Kevin Mayer is convinced that he can improve the points total of American Ashton Eaton (6645 points).

"I have the legs to beat it", assures the world record holder of the decathlon, in search of a second gold medal after that collected in Belgrade in 2017.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who on February 9 in Liévin became the 5th all-time indoor performer over 1,500 m (3 min 31 sec 80), will also have in sight the time of the Ethiopian Samuel Tefera (3 min 31 sec 04).

The Norwegian phenomenon (20 years old) will also line up on the 3,000 m.

The French have plenty to improve their 2019 score in Glasgow (5 podiums, no title).

In addition to Lavillenie and Mayer, the Blues will also be able to count on Cyrena Samba-Mayela and Laetitia Bapte (60m hurdles ladies), Thomas Jordier (400m), Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Benjamin Robert (800m), Djilali Bedrani and Jimmy Gressier ( 3,000m), Wilhem Belocian (60m hurdles) and Melvin Raffin (triple jump) to bring back medals.

© 2021 AFP