Wigan's Harry Coppell denied chance of competing at World Indoors in 2021

Harry Coppell admits the postponement of the World Indoor Championships has made his decision for him.
Wigan's Harry CoppellWigan's Harry Coppell
Wigan's Harry Coppell

The Wigan pole-vaulter, who broke the British record this year, was weighing up whether to compete in the event in China, which was scheduled to take place on March 19-21 next year.

But the event has been postponed to 2023 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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And Coppell, 24, said: “It was something I was considering doing but to be honest, I’ve got the European Indoors and with the travel to China and then coming back, it would have eaten three or four weeks out of my training ahead of the outdoors and it’s obviously a big year with the Olympics coming up.

“So I was probably leaning towards not going – now I’ve not got a decision to make.”

This decision also impacts on Leigh teenager runner Keely Hodgkinson, who is coached by Wigan’s Trevor Painter and won the 800m British title this year.

World Athletics said in a statement: “It is with regret that we have agreed with the organisers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing (19-21 March 2021) to postpone the event to March 2023.

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“Whilst we have been liaising with the Organising Committee and the Chinese Athletics Association to evaluate the staging over the last few weeks, given the current global situation, there is still significant uncertainty about the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in the early part of 2021.”

Athletics’ indoor season falls within a narrow calendar window up until the end of March and it has not been possible to reschedule the 2021 event to later in the year, World Athletics said.

“We would like Nanjing to be the host of our World Indoor Championships given the extensive planning and preparation they have put into this event so have agreed they will stage the event one year after the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade in 2022,” World Athletics added.

The World Indoor Tour, which includes 26 meetings spread across 12 countries from the end of January to the end of February next year, will continue, it was confirmed.

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The European Indoors is also still set to go ahead next year in which Coppell is expected to compete.

Earlier this year, the former World Under-18s champion defended his national pole vault title with a British record of 5.85m at the 2020 Müller British Championships in Manchester.

His leap – in a Wigan Harriers vest – beat the previous best of 5.82m, set in 2012 by Steven Lewis.