Germany’s Olympic long jump champion Malaika Mihambo and Poland’s sprinter Ewa Swoboda produced the highlights at the ISTAF INDOOR Düsseldorf. Mihambo left it late before producing a fine 6.83 m jump while Swoboda was just ahead of crowd favorite Gina Lückenkemper in 7.18 seconds in the 60 m final in front of around 6,100 spectators in the PSD BANK DOME arena. Polish athletes had a great day in Düsseldorf, taking three of the six competitions.
“This was the first ISTAF INDOOR Düsseldorf with really a lot of fans – and it promptly created a fascinating, emotional and exciting festival of athletics. This made us hungry for more and we now look forward to ISTAF INDOOR in Berlin on February 10th with Malaika Mihambo, Gina Lückenkemper, Mondo Duplantis and many more great athletes,“ said Meeting Director Martin Seeber.
In the 60 m final Britain’s Asha Philip unfortunately produced a false start and was disqualified. With five sprinters left in the competition Ewa Swoboda had a good start and managed to just hold on to a lead that was vanishing when she approached the finish line. European 100 m champion Gina Lückenkemper had closed the gap but it was no quite enough to overtake the Pole. Both athletes were given the same time of 7.18 seconds. Tristan Evelyn took third place in 7.21, breaking the national record of Barbados for the second time during the afternoon. She had clocked 7.23 in her first round race. “Obviously the European Indoor Championships and the World Championships in the summer are my two major goals this year,“ said Ewa Swoboda. “It was a great atmosphere at the ISTAF INDOOR again, I really like this meeting.“
As she did so often during her career and most noticeable at the Olympic Games in Tokyo Malaika Mihambo left turning things around until her very last jump. Having managed only 6.21 at her opening jump and with problems during her run-up she was sixth before the final round. But then the 28 year-old World Champion bounced back with 6.83 m to deny Jazmin Sawyers of Great Britain a famous victory. While she finished second with 6.50 Milica Gardasević of Serbia took third place with 6.43. For Malaika Mihambo it was the third victory in a row at the ISTAF INDOOR Düsseldorf, which actually only had three editions so far. In 2021 Mihambo jumped 6.74 and a year ago she achieved 6.96 in Düsseldorf. “I knew that I could do better before my last jump. The goal was today to get back a good feeling during the run-up. So we adapted it during the competition. It took some time before I found a good rhythm. It was more important for me to get back the good feeling during the run-up than how far I would jump,“ said Malaika Mihambo.
Tying the world lead of 7.84 seconds and establishing a personal best, Poland’s Pia Skrzyszowska took the 60 m hurdles in a tight race. Finland’s Reetta Hurske, who had already broken her own national record with 7.88 in the first round, further improved to 7.86 in the final taking second place. Alaysha Johnson of the USA was third in 7.88. “It was a really good race with a really good result. Now I hope to go under 7.80 in my next race,“ said Pia Skrzyszowska and added: “Actually I was motivated because Jakub won his hurdle race. I saw him before and thought let’s do a Polish double.“
In the men’s final of the 60 m hurdles Eric Edwards looked like a certain winner as he dominated from the start. However on the last few metres Jakob Szymanski somehow managed to edge the American and win with 7.63 seconds. Edwards crossed the line in 7.64 and France’s Just Kwaou-Mathey took third with 7.66. “I was not thinking much about my rivals, I just wanted to think positive. This win feels wonderful,“ said the winner from Poland.
It was all Jeremiah Azu in the 60 m dash. The British 100 m bronze medallist from the European Championships in Munich showed a dominating performance taking the lead early after a fine start. With 6.60 seconds he was ahead of Germans Owen Ansah and Julian Wagner who finished in second and third with both given a time of 6.65. “I love it here, it is my first time in Düsseldorf. The time is amazing, the track is fast. I will be back in two weeks for the ISTAF INDOOR in Berlin. It is always a pleasure to come to Germany. The presentation and the music, I think that made the difference for me,“ said Jeremiah Azu, who expects to be able to break his PB of 6.56 soon.
In the Pole Vault KC Lightfoot was the only one who managed to clear 5.76 m although four other jumpers were still in the competition. The American, who holds the world lead of 5.83, then went on to try 5.82 once and 5.85 twice but failed. Norway’s Pal Haugen Lillefosse, Sam Kendricks of the US as well as the Germans Torben Blech and Gillian Ludwig took the next places, having all cleared 5.70. “I do not know how I am doing this: it is my second win after Karlsruhe on Friday. I am just coming out here and jumping the best that I can and thankfully it is working,“ said KC Lightfoot.