(Reuters) - The world indoor athletics championships begin in Birmingham on Thursday with the high jump finals as organizers look to replicate the buzz generated by a similar unusual start to the 2016 edition in Portland.
A sold-out Oregon Convention Center witnessed American Jenn Suhr win her first pole vault world title while France’s Renaud Lavillenie won the men’s gold on the opening day of the championships in the U.S. two years ago.
The success of those events influenced organizers in Birmingham to try something similar, with high jump getting the nod to kick off the event.
“The pole vault competitions in Portland two years ago were very successful so we decided to continue with the high jump finals,” said Chris Cohen, competition director of the event.
“Britain has a good history in this event and we have athletes in both finals. Also with (IAAF male athlete of the year) Mutaz Essa Barshim jumping, it is going to be very exciting competition,” he added.
The high jump events for men and women will begin at the same time and participants will start their run-ups from the bend of the track with two mats placed on the infield.
As the field reduces, men and women will jump alternatively to allow fans to focus on one jumper at a time.
Thursday’s opening session of the March 1-4 championships will end with the women’s 3,000 meters final with defending champion Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and Britain’s Laura Muir in action.
“We also wanted to have one final on the track so with Laura Muir in the women´s 3000m that will be very attractive for the locals,” Cohen added.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond