—- On the eve of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow the World Athletics president Sebastian Coe celebrated the athletes who are preparing to put on a show at the Glasgow Arena from 1-3 March and looked forward to a packed year of global athletics action.

This weekend’s competition in the Scottish city is the first of five World Athletics Series events taking place in 2024, a year that features the Olympic Games in Paris in August.

Speaking at the official pre-event press conference on Thursday, Coe also highlighted calendar changes confirmed at the recent World Athletics Council Meeting that will see each summer track and field season from 2025 onwards build to a natural crescendo of a global event. In World Athletics Championships years, this will mean the season closes with athletics’ flagship event during a defined window in mid-September.

“I’m very excited to be in Glasgow again,” said Coe. “There are more than 130 countries, we’ve got well over 600 athletes. Everywhere you look on the programme, you’ve got something to be excited about. 

“Indoors is interesting for me because you’ve got the specialist athletes and you’ve got those like me that used to use it to keep in shape physically and mentally during the course of the winter months, but whichever camp you come from, everybody is going to be making judgements and making adjustments to training, schedules and events in the lead up to Paris.

“I’m really respectful of the fact that so many world-class athletes have decided to come here. We have got big teams and many of those athletes that are going to be vying for podium positions in Paris are in this stadium. We’ve got a cluster of world record-holders, a bunch of the champions from Budapest and a whole heap of Olympic champions from Tokyo. 

“So, the sport is in good shape,” he added, standing alongside Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, at the press conference. “I know that we are in very safe hands here Susan, so thank you, and to the Scottish Government and to all the agencies out here that are going to make this the success I know it will be.”

Aitken also spoke of the legacy opportunities that stem from the hosting of events such as the World Athletics Indoor Championships.

“When we host events in Glasgow, we always do so with an eye on legacy and on the opportunity to use our world-class venues, such as the Glasgow Arena, to inspire the young people, particularly, of this city,” she said. “To use the power of sport and physical activity to make a difference to people’s lives.”

One athlete who has been an inspiration to many is David Rudisha, Kenya’s world 800m record-holder and multiple world and Olympic champion, who is in Glasgow as World Athletics ambassador for the event.

“I am really excited to be here as an ambassador,” he said. “Indoor events are one of a kind; it’s something that I missed in my career, but I have been following and watching the athletes competing.”

Among the events that Rudisha is looking forward to witnessing are the 60m, featuring treble world champion Noah Lyles, and the 400m, starring world record-holder Femke Bol.

“Since I am an 800m runner, I love to watch two laps,” he added. “Two laps have been running in my mind all these years!”

Rudisha was sat alongside another athlete very familiar with the 400m – Britain’s Eilidh Doyle, who achieved great success in the 400m hurdles, 400m and 4x400m during her career. 

In Glasgow as the WIC Glasgow 24 ambassador, the Scottish star said: “Ten years ago when we hosted the Commonwealth Games, I think that really put Glasgow and Scotland on the map for being a city and a country that can host a major sporting event successfully, and we’ve had so many events since then. To have a global championships here is incredible. I’ve been on the other side of it this time around, seeing everything that goes on to put a championships on. I’m just delighted that everybody is here, they can see what Scotland can do, and we’ve got world-class athletes that have all shown up for it as well. It’s going to be an amazing three days.”

Bol won individual and relay silver medals at the last edition of the championships in Belgrade. Having since broken the world indoor 400m record on two occasions, the Dutch hurdles specialist now has her sights set on double gold in Glasgow.

“Training has gone pretty well, and I’m happy with how my training and my races are going,” said the world 400m hurdles champion. “We’ve not changed much in my training, because things have gone well for the past few years. This year we’ve worked on my speed a bit more, and we can see that this is working. I’m starting to miss the hurdles a bit, but I always enjoy running the 400m – it’s a really nice distance.”

Ukrainian high jumper Yaroslava Mahuchikh, still aged just 22, goes in search of her third global title in Glasgow, having won in Belgrade and then at the World Championships in Budapest last year.

“Sometimes I forget that I’m still only 22,” she smiled. “I have a lot of experience and sometimes it feels like I’m one of the older athletes. I never think about pressure – high jump is my passion.”

Like Bol, Devynne Charlton heads to Glasgow looking to upgrade her Belgrade silver to Glasgow gold. The Bahamian sprint hurdler recently broke the world indoor 60m hurdles record with 7.67 and won the World Indoor Tour.

“For me, the world record race felt pretty normal,” she said. “I knew it must have been fast because the field assembled was so excellent; to come away with a win from those ladies, you have to be doing something phenomenal, so that’s the only way I knew it was a fast race. Then the time came up and I almost couldn’t believe it.”

Fellow sprint hurdler Grant Holloway, a three-time world champion outdoors, also recently broke the world indoor 60m hurdles record, clocking 7.27 at the US Indoor Championships. Undefeated at the 60m hurdles for an incredible 10 years, Holloway is targeting his second world indoor title – and perhaps an improvement on his own world record.

“I think there’s always room for improvement, especially in the hurdles – you can always pinpoint somewhere to find an extra millisecond from,” said Holloway. “Maybe it’s the start, maybe it’s the reaction or the lean, or the acceleration through each zone. I’m in great shape right now, and I think the sky is the limit.”

Few athletes this weekend will have as much support as Josh Kerr. The world 1500m champion, who recently broke the world indoor best for two miles, is entered for the 3000m in Glasgow – a city he has raced in numerous times. 

“I grew up racing here,” he said. “I’ve probably raced in this arena or in Glasgow probably 50 or 60 times. This place is going to be absolutely electric. It’s always able to get the balance right between getting enough people in here while also creating an atmosphere where it feels like the crowd is on top of you. It’s going to be so loud and amazing. I don’t think anyone puts on an athletics event quite like the UK does.”