With only eight days to go before the start of the IAAF World Athletics Championships, the anticipation continues to build as track and field fans will get the answers to the many questions they have been asking all season. As with all major sporting events, there are seasonal fans who are not interested in all events and are just on-board for the joy, entertainment and discussion that may follow. Whether you are a true lover of track and field or a seasonal fan, these are the eight events you must watch in Doha.
#1 and 2 The Men’s and Women’s 400m
This event has a new generation of young talent who consistently ran below 45 and 44 seconds all season. Michael Norman of the US has owned the event for most of the season but lost at the US National trials to Fred Kerley. He bounced back from that disappointment to beat Kerley in the Diamond League finals. Norman’s 2019 world-leading time of 43.45 sets him apart from the pack. If he goes out hard in his usual style then the chasing pack comes back and pushes him, then he could come close to the world record, 43.03. Still, that will only happen if he regains the top form he had before being injured. Unlike these one-off races, the rounds will take a toll and thus no one’s name is written on a medal. If we follow the best times this season then expect his teammates Fred Kerley, Vernon Norwood and Nathan Strother to be a part of the mix, as well as the silver medallist from 2017, Bahamian Steven Gardiner and Jamaican, Akeem Broomfield. Former Champion Kirani James may also spring a surprise as well as Trinidadian Machel Cedenio who has consistently shown that he is a big meets performer. The bronze medallist from 2017, Abdalelah Haroun, may feed off the energy of his home crowd and stun the field. A dark horse here, if he has a great race is 2017 finalist, is Demish Gaye of Jamaica. When the gun sounds for the final on Friday, October 4, it will be anybody’s race.
The women’s 400m has a smaller pool of athletes who have shown dominance this season. The top two of which have avoided each other all season. The medals most likely will be decided among five women who have consistently gone under 50 seconds all season. Olympic Champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo has the fastest time this season, 49.05, and is expected to dominate the event as she has not lost a race all season. Unlike 2017, in this Championships she will not be attempting the 200/400 double and will be laser-focused on grabbing this title. Miller-Uibo has participated in few races this season. In her absence, Bahrain’s Salwa Eid NASER has dominated the event. She is the Diamond League champion and has the second-fastest time this season, 49.17. She will desire to go one better than her silver medal in 2019. Aminatou Seyni (49.19) of Niger and Jamaican Shericka Jackson (49.72) are the other two athletes under 50 seconds this season who are expected to challenge for the medals. Defending champion Phyllis Francis might want to have something to say about that. Make sure you are counted among those watching the finals of this event on Thursday October 3.
#3 and 4, the Men’s And women’s 100m
The blue ribbon event of the championship will not have Usain Bolt who has dominated the event over the last decade and the world is waiting to see who will emerge as the world’s fastest man. The world leader Christian Coleman (9.81) ran into some off-the-track trouble for missing drug tests and may feel the mental pressure of that at the Championships. The only man to show the kind of form to beat him this season, Noah Lyles, will only be doing the 200 metres and thus it will be up to defending champion Justin Gatlin and former champion Yohan Blake to stop Coleman. For the first time in a decade, the world is not expecting anything special in this event but is only curious to see who can step up and try to fill the void left by the legend, Usain Bolt. All questions about this event will be answered in the finals on day 2 of the Championship.
The women’s 100M should be the battle of the Jamaicans. Former world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce and the reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson have the joint-fastest time this season, 10.73. Shelly has been close to that time again with 10.74. it’s clear she’s not back to her brilliant best, with her lighting start that usually leaves the field for dead. Elaine is also still on the mend from her Achilles injury but has beaten Shelly this season and has the finishing speed to come from behind and beat a top-class field. Dina Asher-Smith who has the fourth-fastest time this season of 10.88 — a personal best she ran to win the Diamond League. Shelly will be looking to spoil the party but if Shelly and Elaine’s coach Stephen Francis has his way then we haven’t seen the best of his charges yet and they are sure to peak and be Championships-ready in Doha. Elaine will be looking to make up big time for her poor showing in the 2017 final, but the three athletes who beat her then, defending champion Tori Bowie (USA), silver medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou (Ivory Coast) and bronze medallist Dafne Schippers (Netherlands) will be hoping to spoil the party once more.
#5 The Men’s 200m
He is fast becoming a darling of track and field and fans love him for his sheer determination and guts in every race he runs. Noah Lyles. He became the first man to break 19.8 five times in one year. Usain Bolt only did it four times in one year, which shows that this youngster has some serious talent. He is not expected to come close to the world record but he is expected to put on a speed show. Expect him to be challenged by his fellow American teammates, defending champion Ramil Guliyev (Turkey) and Nigerian Divine Oduduru.
#6 the women’s 100-metre hurdles
This event has had some consistent fast times all season but Danielle Williams has emerged as the on-form athlete of the pack. Her world-leading time 12.32 in July had many pundits thinking the world record is under threat at this Championships. Seven other women have been under 12.60 this season, including current world record holder Kendra Harrison of the USA. Williams’ teammate Juneek Brown has the second-fastest time of 12.40 and will want to be in the mix when the gun sounds. Hurdles are always unpredictable as the slightest of mistakes, and the race can be over for the best in the field. The woman who can best hold her form and nerves as she runs a technically sound race will win.
#7 the new 4x400m mixed relay
The Championships will culminate in a 4x400m mixed relay. The event will make its global debut before its Olympic bow at Tokyo 2020. The team will comprise of both men and women. This is expected to generate much interest.
#8 The women’s 400m Hurdles
This event has had some scintillating times this year and track fans were left speechless when the 16-year-old world record was broken by Dalilah Muhammad (USA). Muhammad took down the record, running 52.20 at the USA Championships in July. The record was expected to go to her exceptionally talented teammate Sydney McLaughlin, who made the Olympic Games at age 16. McLaughlin had set a world U20 record of 52.75 and was the world-leader up to that point at 53.32. The Olympic champion, Mohammad will be looking to add the world title to her name but her teammates McLaughlin and defending champion Kori Carter will not hand it to her. Expect fireworks in this final and most definitely watch the clock.