Looking back on a memorable 2021 indoor season

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

That has certainly been the case for athletics in recent months with the desire for top-level indoor competition being met thanks to the efforts from adaptable and inventive meeting organisers.

It meant that the World Athletics Indoor Tour was able to go ahead with 25 competitions taking place safely in 11 different countries across Europe and North America. In all, 1353 athletes from 84 countries participated in the wider series of Gold, Silver and Bronze level meetings with all six continental areas represented.

At the end of the five Gold-level meetings, 11 series winners – representing seven countries and three continental areas – were confirmed, each earning wildcard entries to the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade22:

Women’s 60m – Javianne Oliver (USA)
Women’s 800m – Habitam Alemu (ETH)
Women’s 3000m – Lemlem Hailu (ETH)
Women’s pole vault – Iryna Zhuk (BLR)
Women’s triple jump – Liadagmis Povea (CUB)
Women’s shot put – Auriol Dongmo (POR)
Men’s 400m – Pavel Maslak (CZE)
Men’s 1500m – Selemon Barega (ETH)
Men’s 60m hurdles – Grant Holloway (USA)
Men’s high jump – Gianmarco Tamberi (ITA)
Men’s long jump – Juan Miguel Echevarria (CUB)

Four senior world indoor records were broken in 2021, three of them coming in World Athletics Indoor Tour meetings:

Women’s 1500m – 3:53.09 Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) Lievin
Men’s 60m hurdles – 7.29 Grant Holloway (USA) Madrid
Men’s triple jump – 18.07m Hugues Fabrice Zango (BUR) Aubiere
Men shot put – 22.82m Ryan Crouser (USA) Fayetteville

World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold series records were broken in 10 disciplines this year:

Women’s 400m – Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) 50.21, Staten Island (Boston)
Women’s 800m – Habitam Alemu (ETH) 1:58.19, Torun
Women’s 1500m – Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) 3:53.09, Lievin
Women’s 3000m – Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) 8:22.65, Madrid
Women’s shot put – Auriol Dongmo (POR) 19.65m, Karlsruhe
Men’s 400m – Michael Norman (USA) 45.34, Staten Island (Boston)
Men’s 800m – Elliot Giles (GBR) 1:43.63, Torun
Men’s 3000m – Getnet Wale (ETH) 7:24.98, Lievin
Men’s 60m hurdles – Grant Holloway (USA) 7.29, Madrid
Men’s triple jump – Hugues Fabrice Zango (BUR) 17.82m, Lievin

The total reach of the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold series across all five meetings was an amazing 16.1million viewers (live, delayed, highlights and digital), with Torun peaking at the highest with an audience of 3.6million viewers.

The five World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold fixtures came out on top in the list of indoor invitational meetings in World Athletics’ competition performance rankings. Lievin’s score is the highest ever mark for a one-day indoor competition.

47,424 Lievin
45,691 Torun
45,288 Staten Island (Boston)
44,857 Karlsruhe
44,215 Madrid

Outside of the World Athletics Indoor Tour, dozens of other indoor competitions took place, including national championships and major international events. The Polish city of Torun hosted the European Indoor Championships, while Fayetteville, Arkansas last weekend played host to the NCAA Indoor Championships.

While the world slowly navigates its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, competition organisers are continually adapting to find new ways of operating. But the action-packed indoor season gives much hope that the bulk of the international outdoor calendar will be able to go ahead safely, leading up to the Tokyo Olympic Games and beyond.

World Athletics