World record-holder and World Athlete of the Year Armand Duplantis will open his 2021 season at the ISTAF Indoor in Dusseldorf, a World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver Meeting, on Sunday 31 January.
Duplantis also opened his season last year with a victory in Dusseldorf with a 6.00m clearance albeit at a different venue. This year’s meeting takes place at the much larger ISS-Dome rather than the intimate setting of the Arena-Sportpark although no spectators will be present this year due to safety and sanitary protocols.
In a rematch of the 2019 World Athletics Championships, Duplantis will face two-time world champion Sam Kendricks from the United States - the last pole vaulter to defeat Duplantis - and world bronze medallist Piotr Lisek from Poland. World fourth-placer Bo Kanda Lita Baehre and former world champion Raphael Holzdeppe will provide the domestic interest.
On the track, treble European champion Dina Asher-Smith will be embarking on an indoor season for the first time since 2018. The Brit, who won her first individual senior medal in the 60m at the 2015 European Indoor Championships when she was still a teenager, is already confirmed for Karlsruhe (29 January), Düsseldorf (31 January) and Lievin (9 February) over the next fortnight. Her lifetime best of 7.08 dates back to the 2015 European Indoor Championships.
In Düsseldorf, Asher-Smith will face in-form Swiss sprinter Ajla Del Ponte as well as leading Germans Lisa-Marie Kwayie, Tatjana Pinto, Rebekka Haase and Jennifer Montag.
The organisers have also recruited reigning European indoor and outdoor champions to compete in the 60m hurdles. Reigning European indoor champion Nadine Visser from the Netherlands goes head-to-head with the very experienced Alina Talay from Belarus in the women’s 60m hurdles and reigning European 110m hurdles champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde is confirmed for the men’s 60m hurdles.
After a low-key outdoor season in 2020, Martinot-Lagarde showed sharp early season form with a 7.54 clocking in Miramas on Friday evening.
In total, the programme will consist of six events: a men’s and women’s 60m and 60m hurdles as well as a women’s long jump and a men’s pole vault. More names will be announced in the coming days.
“We are extremely happy that so many exceptional international and German athletes want to come to Düsseldorf in this challenging time,” said meeting director Martin Seeber. “It is an important opportunity to compete at the highest level at the beginning of the Olympic year in the unique ISTAF Indoor atmosphere. We are continuing to work on presenting great athletes in all six disciplines.”
The ISTAF Indoor will be live streamed here from 12.15pm local-time on Sunday.