IAAF World Track and Field Championships Preview

August 9, 2013 0

© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated

The 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships begin Saturday, August 10th in Moscow, Russia (Friday PM in North America). The meet will be the 14th edition since the first Worlds took place in Helsinki, Finland in 1983. The Worlds were initially a quadrennial event and is now run every-other-year. The 2013 meet will feature 204 countries. The Worlds compare to the track and field portion of the Olympic Games in size, scope and level of competition.

There are several notable athletes who will not be able to compete due to injury like South Africa’s top female 800 metre runner, Caster Semenya, as well as David Rudisha of Kenya who holds the world record in the 800 metres. In the sprints the second fastest 100 metre sprinter, Yohan Blake of Jamaica is out due to a hamstring injury.

There are dozens who are serving suspensions for drug use violations, some of the top names are Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Sherone Simpson who specialise in the sprints, while Turkey has had 31 suspensions recently for steroid use and Russia, the host country, currently has 44 athletes suspended.

Regardless, there are some exciting stories waiting to unfold. For example Great Britain’s Mo Farah will once again double by taking in the 5000 and 10000 metre events. Farah won gold in both races during the 2012 London Olympic Games. He also owns the British10000 metre record of 26:46.57. Farah recently raced well at the 1500m distance breaking Steve Cram’s 28-year-old British record time of 3:29.67, by running 3:28.8, which is also the European record, previously own by Spanish athlete Fermin Casho and stood at 3:28.95 since 1997. Casho won Olympic Gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics – his career was overshadowed by the giant Hicham El Gerrouj.

Farah has expressed some interest in running in three events at Worlds: 1500, 5000 and 10000m, but will stick with the longer two. He currently owns eight national records.

Below is a look at some of the events that will happen at the World Championships. This is by no means a complete preview, but rather a glimpse at most of the events that will provide some excitement for fans of the sport.

10000m – Women

Turinesh Dibaba is going to be difficult to beat; she is the 5000m world record holder and 2012 London Olympic champion in the 5000m event. The Ethiopian won two gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The 26-year-old also owns five IAAF World Cross Country Championships gold medals and four more at the World Track and Field Championships. She seems unbeatable. She comes from great running genes as her sister is an Olympic medallist from 2004 and she is related to two-time Olympic medallist Derartu Tulu.

Meseret Defar will provide good competition, she is a two-time Olympic champion and a former Worlds gold medallist, she owns a 10000 metre personal best time of 29:59.20 and a 5000 metre best of 14:12.88 versus Dibaba’s 14:11.55 and 29:54.66.

Kenyan Emily Chebet is a two-time World cross-country champion and although her career does not match Dibaba’s or Defar’s, she could very well compete for a bronze medal.

The Americans in the race are Jordan Hasay, Shalane Flanagan and Amy Hastings, do not have the resume of the Ethiopians, the American track fans will be very interested in how the trio perform especially the young and up and coming Jordan Hasay.

5000m – Women

This race will likely come down to a final lap sprint between Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar. Although Dibaba will likely win this event again, there should be few who could challenge her at anytime during the 12.5 lap race however, 21-year-old Ayana, Almaz of Ethiopia has run as fast as 14:25.84 – she may make a serious stab at winning this event.

Also, you never know with Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot. She has the ability to win in cross-country at the highest level and her personal bests are world class, albeit getting dated. And you never know with youth. Twenty-two-year-old Mercy Cherono may surprise in this event, she was a junior sensation and excelled or more like dominated at the world junior level in the 3000 metre distance. Can she make the jump?

American Molly Huddle should put herself in the mix, so that she is near the front of the pack for the final lap, she does own the American record for this distance, which is 14:44.76. This time is not quite at the level of the East African bests however, as mentioned anything can happen in an international race. Another dark horse is 20-year-old Ethiopian Genet Yalew. Look for her to be ready to kick in a tactical race.

Heptathlon

Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis-Hill will win the gold medal, unless of course, something strange happens. Out of the next six positions (at least) from the 2012 London Olympic Games heptathlon results that followed Ennis-Hill’s gold medal performance, at this time appear to not be competing. She won by a large margin in London and will increase that margin in Moscow. It is her event to lose.

100m – Men

In the men’s 100 metre event, Usain Bolt will have no competition as per usual, but this time, not just because he is the fastest sprinter in the world, but also because the three of the next four fastest sprinters are not running. Suspended are American Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell due to drug violations, while Jamaican Yohan Blake, the second fastest sprinter in the world, is out with a hamstring injury. Nesta Carter of Jamaica and Justin Gatlin who have run 9.87 and 9.89 this season will fight for silver. Bolt owns the fastest times for the 100 metre at 9.58 and 200 metre of 19:19, in history. The actual race will be between Gatlin and Carter for second.

400m – Men

It appears that it may be a preconceived notion of who should win gold and silver in this event between James Kirani of Grenada, who owns a season and lifetime best 43.96 versus American LaShawn Merritt. Merritt surprisingly has not cracked 44 seconds yet this season. His best is 43.75 however, he has a habit of showing up to big events well prepared and has won Olympic Gold at the 2008 Beijing Games.

It will be highly doubtful that anyone will take Michael Johnson’s world record of 43.18 during the world championships, but the one athlete who looks capable of breaking it is the 21-year-old Kimani however; he may have to wait a few years for the magic circumstances. Kimani’s performance – outside of the importance of the race – may raise some eyebrows.

Shot put – Men

The shot put features Canadian record holder Dylan Armstrong, who was recently awarded a silver and a bronze medal from the 2011 Daegu World Championships and the 2010 World Indoor Championships, respectively, after Belarusian shot putter Andrei Mikhnevich was suspended and had his results annulled for testing positive for banned substances. Armstrong owns the Canadian record of 22.21 metres and is a perennial top-five threat. “I feel grateful to the IAAF that they’ve gone back and re-tested and taken the appropriate steps to resolve this case,” said Armstrong in an interview from Copenhagen. Armstrong is up against Americans Reese Hoffa and Ryan Whiting as well as Tomasz Majewski of Poland amongst others, the top ten are:

Ryan WHITING – USA

Reese HOFFA  – USA

Tomasz MAJEWSKI – POL

David STORL – GER

Germán Luján LAURO – ARG

Dylan ARMSTRONG – CAN

Ladislav PRÁŠIL – CZE

Cory MARTIN – USA

Asmir KOLAŠINAC – SRB

Georgi IVANOV – BUL

High jump – Men

Another Canadian with medal hopes is Derek Drouin who was a surprise bronze medal winner in the high jump event at the 2012 London Olympic Games. He has jumped as high as 2.36 metres, which he accomplished in Eugene, Oregon on June 2, 2013, so he continues to improve.

A gold medal threat is Ivan Ukhov with his best jump of 2.39, he is from Russia, while Qatar’s Mutaz, Essa Barshim has a best jump of 2.40 metres – he shared the bronze medal from London with Canadian Drouin. American Erik Kynard a top challenger should be Bohdan Bondarkenko of the Ukraine with his best of 2.41 metres. He has the third all-time highest jump behind two legends of the sport Javier Sotomayor of Cuba and Patrick Sjöberg of Sweden. Watch for Bondarkenko to threaten to take down the world record.

800m – Men

There continues to be a very deep field in the 800 metre event even without world record holder David Rudisha of Kenya (who has run as fast as 1:40.91) on the sidelines due to injury. There continues to exist a seemingly endless number of possibilities of how the 800 metre final could play out, which will make the final a very exciting race. The 800 metre event is arguably the most competitive and deep events in all distance sports, for example of the top-100 (currently active) world-ranked 800 metre runners, there is less than four seconds separating second to 100th. Only Rudisha stands alone, but maybe not for long.

Eighteen-year-old Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia owns an incredible personal best of 1:42.53, while two Americans Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds who own personal bests that are nearly as good at 1:42.82 and 1:42.95, respectively, the latter two will likely battle in the finals for a medal.

Expect to see a strong showing from a Kenyan as Kenya and Ethiopia are fierce rivals, with Rudisha out; a young Kenyan will likely make a push to a new level to continue the reign of supremacy for the country. Two candidates are eighteen-year-old Timothy Kitum who won a bronze medal at the London Olympics and owns a brilliant best time of 1:42.53 and twenty-three-year-old Job Kinyor who sports a competitive 1:43.76 personal record. However French runner Pierre-Ambrose Bosse is a threat with his identical best time of 1:43.76. The top ten are rounded out by American Brandon Johnson, South Africa’s Andre Olivier and Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski who has plenty of international experience including a European Championships gold medal and a strong personal best time of 1:43.84.

1500m – Men

The 1500 metre event is another highly competitive race distance. The fastest athlete currently competing in the 1500 metres has run as quickly as 3:27.72, he is Kenyan, Asbel Kiprop. Following in his wake are fellow countrymen Bethwell Birgen who has run as fast as 3:30.77 and 23-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist Silas Kiplagat, with his 3:29.27, the tenth fastest time in history.

The top ten are rounded out by a pair of Ethiopians, Aman Wote and World Indoor Championships bronze medallist, Mekonnen Gebremedhin, and a pair of Kenyans, which are ranked by All-Athletics in Collins Cheboi in sixth position and tenth-ranked Nixon Kiplimo Chepseba, who owns a best time of 3:29.77. Also in the mix are Morroccan Abdelaati Iguider, American Matthew Centrowitz, who won a bronze medal at the 2011 Daegu world championships and has run as fast as 3:31.96. There is also Ilham Tanui Ozbilen of Turkey.

The world record time is 3:26.00 by Morocco’s Hicham El Gerrouj. Interestingly Great Britain’s Mo Farah mentioned that he would like to triple in Moscow by adding the 1500m distance to the two races he is already scheduled to compete in, the 5000 and 10000 metres. He raced to a British record in 2013, which is 3:28.81 on July 19th in Monaco, during the Diamond League.

Marathon – Women

Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat is set to defend her title from the 2011 Daegu, Korea meet. She shares nearly identical marathon personal bests of 2:19:50 from Dubai with countrywomen Lucy Kabuu, who won London in 2:19:34.  Ethiopia’s Aberu Kebede will lead five teammates determined to win the team event as well as work as a team to place a runner in position for a gold medal. Expect these East Africans to work as a team, pulling surges throughout. I am predicting that Tiki Gelana is attempting to become the first Ethiopian winner of this of the worlds title and I say she will most likely do it – with the usual caveat that nothing odd and out of the ordinary happens like defrocked priests or wheelchair accidents happen.

Notable international meet performances of late have come from unlikely sources, mot notable Constantina Dita winning Olympic Gold in Beijing by running away from her competition from half-way. At the 2012 London Olympic Games Russian Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova won a bronze medal. Can she perform at this level again in front of the home crowd? Neither Kara Goucher nor Shalane Flanagan are in the event, where at London they finished in 10th and 11th place, slightly disappointed. The America team of three athletes include Mammoth Lakes’ master runner Deena Kastor. At the age of 40 can Kastor compete? She does own a competitive personal best of 2:19:34.

The aforementioned Dita won Olympic Gold at 38, the oldest marathon win in Olympic history. Previous to that Portugal’s Carlos Lopes won gold at the age of 37 at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Dot McMahon and Jeanette Faber qualified with time over 2:30, as did a pair of Canadian – a rare site at this level – are Lanni Marchant and Krista DuChene. Anything can happen in the marathon and surely will.

Marathon – Men

Geoffrey Mutai still owns the world’s fastest marathon time of 2:03:02. The result doesn’t count as the official world record because it was accomplished on the point-to-point, net downhill 2011 B.A.A. Boston Marathon course however, in terms of straight up time and bragging rights it trumps Patrick Makau’s 2:03:38, which he ran on the fast, 2011 Berlin Marathon course.

There are 76 athletes competing from 43 countries. The Worlds and Olympics typically come down to athletes from two countries, Kenya and Ethiopia and a handful of others.

There are five Kenyans and six Ethiopians competing including Kenyans: Nicholas Kemboi, Bernard Kipyego, Michael Kipyego, Bernard Koech and Peter Some. The Ethiopians are:  Lelia Desisa, Tsegay Kebede, Feyisa Lilesa, Tilahun Regassa, Tadese Tola and Yemane Tsegay.

In January of this year Koech and Desisa battled hard over the Dubai course, finishing very close in 2:04:53 and 2:04:45, respectively. Koech’s Dubai result is the fastest time of the group of five Kenyans; however, he was beaten by another three Ethiopians in that Dubai event. Kemboi finished behind Koech in 2:06:33. It appears the Kenyans may have their work cut out for them.

Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi is the most interesting runner, as he has outperformed his – by comparison – mediocre 10000 metre best of 29:28. He is a tough runner who has battled to a couple finishes in the 2:08 range as well as a 2:10 and 2:12, all in the orient, within his time zone, Moscow is a long way from Tokyo, but he will be a fan favourite. The Japanese are a perennial top-finishing country in the team category at the World marathon and this year will be no exception with all six runners having run under 2:09. The fastest of which was Kazuhiro Maeda who has run as fast as 2:08, exactly. Japan should win at least a bronze.

10000m – Men

The man who unseats Mo Farah will have to be able to change pace rapidly and have a strong finishing kick, if someone can do so during the world championships it will have to come from an athlete like Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, but can he regain some of the form that saw him run the world record time of 26:17:53 in the 10000m and 12:37.35 in the 5000 metre? International competition is often tactical and he certainly did not demonstrate the ability to kick during the London games, where he finished 4th to his brother Tariku, who was taken by Galen Rupp for silver and Farah. Bekele finished in 27:32.44 to Farah’s 27:30.42. There are three faster Ethiopians so far this season in Dejen Gebremeskel who has run as fast as 26:51.02 during the 2013 season, Abera Kuma (26:52.85) and Imane Merga (26:57.33) – mind you all three ran those season best times in one meet on June 27 in Sollentuna. Was it just a fast day? We will find out.

5000m – Men

Bernard Lagat is getting old, but it was only two years ago that in Monaco he managed to run his personal best time of 12:53.60, which is a time that is competitive with several other athletes scheduled to race the 5000 metre distance. Kenenisa Bekele owns the world record of 12:37.35, which he set in 2004 at the Hengelo meet. Bekele has not shown the same form as he did during his best years, as of late. Is it time for torch to be passed? Ethiopia’s, Yenew Alamirew (12:48.770, Kenyan, John Kipkoech, Galen Rupp of the US with his best of 12:58.90 and a London Olympic silver to his credit (12:49.50) and Kenyan, Edwin Soi  12:51.34 appear to be challengers to Bekele and Lagat, while Farah looks to continue to run away from the field.

One Ethiopian who may make the final interesting is 19-year-old Hagos Gebrhiwet who has run as fast as 12:47.53. Moses Kipsiro who wears the colours of Uganda has run as fast as 12:50.72. He hasn’t run a 5000 metre race at that level for over six years however; in 2012 he ran a 10000 metre race in 27:04.48. Kipsiro has an outside chance to compete with this field.

Everything that Nike Oregon Project coach, Alberto Salazar seems to turn to gold. Canadian Cameron Levins competed in the London Olympics and now has spent some time training under Salazar. Is it too early to expect him to make the progress that several other athletes have? His personal best of 13:18.29 puts him in the middle of the pack however, when given the opportunity to kick, he has proven to be a strong finisher. Will he be in the mix after 12 laps, so he can finish with the best? He is also racing the 10000 metres just as he did in the London Olympics.

Broadcast Schedule:

Date Time (ET) Network Session Key Events
Saturday, Aug. 10 1:30-5:30 a.m. (live) Universal Sports Day Decathlon
Saturday, Aug. 10 3:30-5 p.m. NBC, Live Extra Evening M100 Round 1, M10,000
Saturday, Aug. 10 7-8:30 p.m. (re-air) Universal Sports Evening M100 heats, M10,000
Sunday, Aug. 11 1-5 a.m. (live) Universal Sports Day Decathlon, M400 heats
Sunday, Aug. 11 12:30-2 p.m. NBC, Live Extra Evening M100, Decathlon
Sunday, Aug. 11 7-8:30 p.m. (re-air) Universal Sports Evening M100, Decathlon
Monday, Aug. 12 1:30-4:30 a.m. (live) Universal Sports Day M/W400H heats
Monday, Aug. 12 12-2 p.m. (live) Universal Sports Evening W100, M110H, W400
Tuesday, Aug. 13 1:30-5:30 a.m. (live) Universal Sports Day M5000 heats
Tuesday, Aug. 13 12-2 p.m. (live) Universal Sports Evening M400, M800
Wednesday, Aug. 14 12:30-4 a.m. (live) Universal Sports Day M1500 heats
Thursday, Aug. 15 1:30-4 a.m. (live) Universal Sports Day W200 heats
Thursday, Aug. 15 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (live) Universal Sports Evening W200 semis, M400H
Friday, Aug. 16 1:30-4 a.m. (live) Universal Sports Day M200 heats
Friday, Aug. 16 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (live) Universal Sports Evening M200 semis, W200
Saturday, Aug. 17 12-12:30 p.m. (live) NBC Evening M200
Saturday, Aug. 17 12:30-2:30 p.m. Universal Sports Men’s Marathon
Saturday, Aug. 17 2:30-4 p.m. NBC Evening W100H, W4x400
Saturday, Aug. 17 9-10:30 p.m. (re-air) Universal Sports Evening M200, W100H
Sunday, Aug. 18 2:30-4 p.m. NBC Evening M/W 4×100
Sunday, Aug. 18 7-8:30 p.m. Universal Sports Evening M/W 4×100

 

 

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