TORINO, ITALY (05-Mar) -- The 30th edition of the European Indoor Championships open here tomorrow at the Oval Lingotto, a speed skating rink built for the 2006 Winter Olympics which has been specially retrofit for athletics with a distinctive blue Mondo track.
In the middle and long distance events, the men's 3000m qualifying will be held tomorrow morning. Twenty-three men will toe the starting line in two heats, qualifying 16 of them for the final. The top entrant is Britain's Mo Farah with a European leading and British record 7:34.47 this season. Farah will be looking for the gold medal he thought he should have won two years ago in Birmingham when he was tripped in his prelim, fell to the track and exhausted himself catching up to the field. Although he did make it to the final, he only finished fifth.
France's Bouabdellah Tahri and Spain's Jesus España, the silver and bronze medalists, respectively from Birmingham two years ago, should be Farah's top rivals. Sergey Lebid of Ukraine could also sheak in for a medal.
Tomorrow's afternoon session will see the qualifying heats of the men's and women's 800m, and the women's 1500m. In the four-lap races, Olympic gold medalist Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia is the top entrant on the men's side, but look out for Poland's Pawel Czapiewski, Spain's Miguel Quesada, and Italy's Maurizio Bobbato. Quesada and Bobbato were the silver and bronze medalists, respectively, two years ago. Ukraine's Tetyana Petlyuk, Britain's Marilyn Okoro, and Italy's Elisa Cusma Piccione are the biggest threats for medals on the women's side.
Defending women's 1500m champion Lidia Chojecka of Poland will line up for the preliminary round tomorrow, but she'll be under a lot of pressure from Russia's Anna Alminova, who has run 4:02.23 this indoor season. Other contenders include Slovenia's Sonja Roman and Spain's Natalia Rodríguez. Spain's Nuria Fernández, who ran a world-leading 4:01.77 this indoor season, has decided to only compete in the 3000m here.
There will only be four medal events tomorrow: women's shot put, pentathlon, and 60m hurdles, and the men's 60m hurdles.