Since 1999, the world indoor 600-meter record has belonged to Nico Motchebon, although several runners have come tantalizingly close to besting the German’s time of 1:15.12.
On February 2, three of the most successful challengers will line up at the Russian Winter in Moscow, and one athlete in particular, Ethiopian middle-distance great Mohammed Aman, is eying Motchebon’s mark.
If Aman is trying to become the world’s 600-meter king, it’s good that he’ll be running the race in Moscow. The 19-year-old has never lost a race in the Russian capital, and this past August, he won the 800 meters at the IAAF World Championships there, becoming the youngest person ever to win the title. In fact, next year’s Russian Winter race will be his first in senior competition. (He ran a junior-record 1:15.60 for 600 meters at last year’s edition of the meet.)
But as IAAF.org reports, Aman could break Motchebon’s record but lose the race. Joining him on the line will be two other runners who have come within a half-second of the record in recent years.
First up, there’s Adam Kszczot (pronounced “Kshott”) of Poland. The 24-year-old is the second-fastest 600-meter runner of all time, and he holds the Russian Winter record in the event at 1:15:26—considerably faster than Aman has run. Also entered is American Erik Sowinski, who ran 1:15.99 at last year’s Russian Winter and trimmed off more than three-tenths of a second two weeks later, when he set the American indoor record with a time of 1:15.61—a mere .01 slower than Aman’s best.
Regardless of how the Russian Winter race plays out, Aman has high hopes for 2014. In particular, he’s setting his sights on the IAAF World Indoor Championships, which will take place in Sopot, Poland, in March.
“This year for me was a perfect year,” Aman told journalists last month, according to Athletics-Africa.com, reflecting on his 800-meter world title and the personal best of 1:42.37 that he set in that event in Brussels in September.
Clearly, the 800 meters is his focus, and despite recent successes, he hasn’t forgotten his disappointing sixth-place finish at the 2012 London Olympics.
“The Olympics was a big thing for me,” he said. “In athletics you either win or lose. I lost in London, but it made me stronger for this year.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg