With the IAAF World Championships kicking off in my hometown later this week, I thought I’d cast an eye over the start lists and make some (probably rogue) predictions. After picking some surprise winners in Beijing two years ago (Ahem Nicholas Bett in the 400m hurdles, thank you very much) I’m hoping I might be able to find one or two gems this time around too. *
So let’s get started.
* Disclosure – these predictions are just my views based on what I’ve witnessed so far this season and what I know about individual athlete’s capability of delivering at a championship.
Christian Coleman heads the world list with a blistering 9.82 and is one of only two athletes in the top 10 to have run their personal best this year. Nevertheless he has not run well outside of the US at all and I believe he will get swallowed up in London. Usain Bolt heads to the British Capital with his slowest ever pre-championship time of 9.95, however, this is the fastest time anyone has run outside of their home country in 2017. Truth be told it has been a poor year. Even then, it is hard to see past Bolt.
Gold: Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
Silver: Justin Gatlin (USA)
Bronze: Yohan Blake (Jamaica)
Brit Watch: CJ Ujah – Final (6th), Dasaolu & Prescod – Semis.
For the first time since Bolt won his first 200m world title in 2007, we are guaranteed a new world champion. Five or six athletes will head to London believing the gold is there’s to win, including 400m world record holder Wayde Van Niekerk. However, doubling up will be strenuous and there are plenty of athletes ready to strike if the South African falters. In prime position to do so is world leader Isaac Makwala.
Gold: Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa)
Silver: Andre De Grass (Canada)
Bronze: Isaac Makwala (Botswana)
Brit Watch: Nethaneel Mitchel Blake – Final 6th, Danny Talbot – Final 7th, Zharnel Hughes – Semis
There will be no Kirani James in London, and LaShawn Merritt looks out of sorts. Wayde will complete the double but the main question will be how fast will he run? I’m not sure the world record is possible given a total of six rounds (200m + 400m), and Makwala and Fred Kerley present genuine challenges to the 400m throne. The rest of the world are a little way off the pace at present but there will certainly be one or two surprises.
Gold: Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa)
Silver: Fred Kerley (USA)
Bronze: Baboloki Thebe (Botswana)
Brit Watch: Matthew Hudson-Smith – Semis, Dwayne Cowan – Heats (but in a new PB) and Martyn Rooney – Heats.
I might as well pull some names out of a hat here because I have no idea whether the final will be a fast race from the gun or a slow jog and then kick from home. Each version will yield a significantly different outcome. Here I’ve gone for a slow race with a sprint finish:
Gold: Kipyegon Bett (Kenya)
Silver: Nijel Amos (Botswana)
Bronze: Adam Kszczot (Poland) (currently ranked 25th in the world)
Brit Watch: Elliot Giles – Semis, Kyle Langford – Semis, Guy Learmonth – Heats.
In my opinion this is another event that is wide open, but the usual suspects will feature. Olympic and world indoor champion Matt Centrowitz will be looking to finally capture a world outdoor title, after bronze in 2011 and silver in 2013, to complete the clean sweep of global titles. Elijiah Manangoi has the fastest time in the world this year though, and he, Kwemoi and Cheruiyot will believe a Kenyan 1-2-3 is possible.
Gold: Elijiah Manangoi (Kenya)
Silver: Filip Ingebrigsten (Norway)
Bronze: Matt Centrowitz (USA)
Brit Watch: Chris O’Hare – Final (5th), Jake Wightman – Final (7th), Josh Kerr – Semis.
Evan Jager has the world lead, but Conseslus Kirputo is unbeaten for over a year. El Bakkali has been the find of the season, but can you ever discount Ezekiel Kemboi? 16 year old Jakob Ingebrigsten will run without fear and one thing is for sure – there will be casualties.
Gold: Conseslus Kipruto (Kenya)
Silver: Soufiane El Bakkali (Morocco)
Bronze: Jarius Birech (Kenya)
Brit Watch: Rob Mullett – Heats, Zak Zeddon – Heats, Ieuan Thomas – Heats.
LONG DISTANCE (ISH)
Three men have run under 5000m this year, but none of them are three-time defending champion Mo Farah, who races his final championships on the track. The British crowd will give him every ounce of support they can muster and although this will certainly be his biggest challenge to date, I think he will just have enough.
Gold: Mo Farah (Great Britain & NI)
Silver: Muktar Edris (Ethiopia)
Bronze: Yomif Kejelcha (Ethiopia)
Brit Watch: – Mo Farah – Final (Gold), Andrew Butchart – Final (6th), Marc Scott – Heats.
The 10,000m is definitely Mo’s weaker event, and here in Geoffrey Kamworor is an athlete will the ability and courage to push Mo all the way. If others go with Kamworor they will possibly run the legs off of Mo, but if Kamworor has to do it all on his own it will play into Farah’s hands. Everyone else will be racing for Bronze.
Gold: Mo Farah (Great Britain & NI)
Silver: Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya)
Bronze: Yenew Alamirew (Ethiopia)
Brit Watch: Mo Farah – Final (Gold).
An event I know less about that those on the track and in the field so I won’t be placing my house on any of the following. I’ve watched enough Marathon’s to know that anything can happen. Keep an eye out for self-coached Josh Griffiths who stunned the elite field in London to be the first Brit past-the-post.
Gold: Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda)
Silver: Tamirat Tola (Ethiopia)
Bronze: Daniel Wanjiru (Kenya)
Brit Watch: Callum Hawkins – 14th, Joshua Griffiths – 18th, Andrew Davies – 38th.
One of the most exciting events on the planet, but so far, just like last year, only one athlete has gone under 13 seconds – olympic champion Omar McLeod. The Jamaican has said he is aiming for the world record but winning gold alone will be excruciatingly difficult. There are so many who could end up on the podium, from McLeod himself down to world no. 13 Milan Trajkovic of Cyprus. The season’s bests of the men in the field suggest the event will be lit and I think we may well see up to five national records fall in London.
Gold: Omar McLeod (Jamaica)
Silver: Sergey Shubenkov (Russia, but competing as an Authorised Neutral Athlete – ANA)
Bronze: Aries Merritt (USA)
Note – this could just as easily read – Ronald Levy (Jamaica), Balázs Baji (Hungary), Devon Allen (USA).
Brit Watch: Andy Pozzi – Final (4th), David Omoregie – Semis, David King – Semis.
Speaking of lit, who knows who will prevail over the one lap hurdles. Kerron Clement has the experience but is erratic. Kyron McMaster has all the talent in the world but is erratic, and Karsten Warholm has all the confidence in the world, but yep, you guessed, is erratic. There are about 20 men who could make the final (seriously) so I’m going to pluck for a mixture of experience and lack of reservation in my selections.
Gold: Yasmani Copello (Turkey)
Silver: Thomas Barr (Ireland)
Bronze: Kyron McMaster (British Virgin Islands)
Brit Watch: Jack Green – Final (8th).
Barring a disaster, Mutaz Essa Barshim will at long last claim a global gold, having been the bridesmaid on various occasions. The qualification standard of 2.30 is an absolute monster and only 2016 world number 1 (pre-injury) Gianmarco Tamberi has been invited by the IAAF despite not achieving it. There are too many names to re-count, but this is an event where experience pays in bucket loads.
Gold: Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar)
Silver: Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy) – currently ranked 29th and last of all entrants.
Bronze: Robbie Grabarz and Derek Drouin (Great Britain & NI and Canada).
Brit Watch: Robbie Grabarz – Final (joint Bronze).
Renaud Lavillenie will be looking to join Barshim in winning a first world outdoor gold, after a succession of world medals but not one of the highest colour. The 2012 olympic and world indoor champion has not been on fire this season, will be get it right on the night?
Gold: Sam Kendricks (USA)
Silver: Renaud Lavillenie (France)
Bronze: Armand Duplantis (Sweden)
Brit Watch: No Brits.
The competition is certainly weakened without reigning world champion Greg Rutherford and there are injury concerns over undisputed world number 1 Luvo Manyonga. If he is fit, the gold and stadium record is his for the taking. South Africa will be looking to complete a 1-2-3 and anything other than an American victory will be seen as a success by the rest of the world, given the outrageous jumps always produced at the US trials, but never anywhere else.
Gold: Luvo Manyonga (South Africa)
Silver: Ruswahl Samaai (South Africa)
Bronze: Jianan Wang (China)
Brit Watch: No Brits.
A potential world record event if the conditions are right, and the world record could be broken by one of two athletes, both from the US. Will Claye is another athletics bridesmaid who will be looking to crash Christian Taylor’s party in the stadium where Taylor beat him to olympic gold, five years ago. Triple jumping depth is not at an all time high, a jump of 17.50+ will probably be enough for bronze. Bin Dong has the pedigree but this is a huge opportunity for Max Hess to show his potential.
Gold: Christian Taylor (USA – new World Record)
Silver: Will Claye (USA – over 18m)
Bronze: Max Hess (Germany – new PB)
Brit Watch: Nathan Fox – Qualification round.
Remarkably, four men have all thrown over 22m this year. An American pair lead the way in Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs but one cannot discount David Storl, continuing his comeback. Randy Barnes set the world record of 23.13 during a period which we now know was rife with doping, so getting anywhere near that would be a huge achievement.
Gold: Ryan Crouser (USA)
Silver: Joe Kovacs (USA)
Bronze: Tomáš Stanek (Czech Republic)
Brit Watch: No Brits.
One of the most electric events this year. I am so pumped to see Röhler and Vetter vie for the title. Röhler was the world no. 1 last year, although at the European championships he had a disaster, putting together his worst series of the year, to finish 5th in 80.78. Unperturbed, he bounced back in Rio to throw over 90m and win gold. 4th on that occasion was teammate Johannes Vetter, who are playing second fiddle again to Röhler for most of this season, launched the Javelin out to a monumental 94.44 – making him the second furthest thrower ever and shattering the German record. That particular record had been set only a few weeks earlier when Röhler had mustered up a monster effort of 93.90 in Doha. At the time, this throw made him the second best ever! So will come out on top in London? Röhler is the olympic champion, but Vetter has history on his side. In each of the past four major championships, whoever has finished 4th has gone on to win the next one. Could it be his turn?
Gold: Thomas Röhler (Germany)
Silver: Johannes Vetter (Germany)
Bronze: Jakub Vadlejch (Czech Republic)
Brit Watch: No Brits.
Daniel Ståhl tops the world list with one of the biggest throws of all time. Yet last here he also topped the world list and left Rio empty handed. Seven other men have thrown over 66m, the kind of distance it will require to win bronze. German brothers Christoph and Robert will be looking for a 1-2.
Gold: Fedrick Dacres (Jamaica)
Silver: Daniel Ståhl (Sweden)
Bronze: Philip Milanov (Belgium)
Brit Watch: Nick Percy – Qualification round.
Such a promising event for GB last week, having three athletes qualify in a throwing event for the olympic games! However, British athletics standards have been poor to terrible this year and we are back down to one. Nick Miller however, does have a realistic chance of making the final. Despite this will be a long way off the medals, with Pawel Fadjek set to win another world title.
Gold: Pawel Fajdek (Poland)
Silver: Dilshod Nazarov (Tajikistan)
Bronze: Bence Halász (Hungary)
Brit Watch: Nick Miller – Final (10th).
The best athletic event, the ultimate test of speed, strength, power, agility, balance, control, mental resistance and emotional control. If Kevin Mayer arrives in shape he is likely to become the new King of the athletic Kingdom and I’m going to bold and suggest that he will break Ashton Eaton’s world record. Behind him, the battle will be fierce but friendly, in true decathlete style. Numerous athletes have a shot at a medal, and I’m so excited to see how Trey Hardee fares on his return to the very top.
Gold: Kevin Mayer (France) (new world record)
Silver: Rico Freimuth (Germany)
Bronze: Eelco Sintnicolaas (The Netherlands)
Brit Watch: Ashley Bryant – 10th (New PB)
Bolt’s farewell, and Jamaica are well versed enough to know how this should go. Changeovers will probably be slightly safer than normal but there will be disqualifications and dropped batons galore, as always. I don’t rate the British relay selectors at all so will be interested to see who they put out. If it’s Danny Talbot – CJ Ujah – Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – Reece Prescod then we may be in with a shout. But if the selectors opt for Adam Gemili and Harry Aikiens-Aryeetey then we have no chance.
Silver: Great Britain & NI (only with team mentioned above) otherwise – dropped baton.
Brit Watch: it would be silver, it could be failing to get out of the heats. The latter is more likely, but we do enter the competition with the fastest time in the world so maybe I am being too harsh. I’m not sure, it has been 13 years since a men’s British 4×100 achieved anything.
Botswana should be on a high by this point, with medals in the 200m, 400m and 800m all possibilities and will be in the best position to challenge the USA, who are completely dominant in this event. With the states having discovered Fred Kerley, already 7th fastest ever over 400m, I cannot see past them adding yet another gold.
Silver: Trinidad and Tobago
Brit Watch: Final – 7th.
20KM RACE WALK
A spectacular route has been assembled for the race walks and marathon in London and the British crowds will be out in full force. Kalihua Wang holds the blistering world lead of 1:17.54 and if he walks that no one will be able to go with him. In reality I am not expecting the race to be that fast, and feel that 1:19 and change will be enough to secure a medal.
Gold: Sergei Shirobokov (Russia – ANA)
Silver: Dane Bird-Smith (Australia)
Bronze: Elki Takahashi (Japan)
Brit Watch: Tom Bosworth – 4th (new PB), Callum Wilkinson (disqualified).
50KM RACE WALK
Much more unpredictable due to the length and sheer number of athletes who won’t finish. A new world champion will be crowned with the abscence of Slovakia’s Matej Tóth but those who want to win will need run walk under the current world lead of 3:43 in what will hopefully be conducive weather.
Gold: Robert Herrernan (Ireland)
Silver: Jared Tallent (Australia)
Bronze: Josê Leyver Ojeda (Mexico)
Brit Watch: Dominic King – 16th.
How about you? who do you think will medal in London?