….and now for the good stuff! I was overwhelmed by the response to my predictions for the men’s events at this years IAAF World Championship, which has made me even more excited to go through the women’s events, because let’s be fair, women’s track and field is on fire at the moment and the chances of records falling are substantially higher than for their male counterparts.
There are few athletes who are better certainties for gold than Elaine Thompson. The combination of her world lead being 10.71 and the decision to focus solely on the 100m means that barring a disaster a maiden world title is coming for the double olympic champion. There is also the possibility of a new Jamaican record, although Elaine’s more recent results have not been as hot as her world lead. Double olympic fourth placer Marie-Josée Ta Lou looks to have the consistency needed for a breakthrough medal, but her fellow Ivorian and African record holder Murielle Ahouré does have a blistering season’s best of 10.83.
Gold: Elaine Thompson (Jamaica)
Silver: Tori Bowie (USA)
Bronze: Marie-Josée Ta Lou (The Ivory Coast)
Brit Watch: Daryll Neita – Semis (new PB). Desiree Henry – Semis. Asha Philip – Semis.
Having started the season so promisingly, Henry has struggled of late, much like her training partner Dafne Schippers, which suggests to me something in training hasn’t quite worked. Neita to run another PB in the semis and very narrowly miss out on the final.
Ok here’s where my heads at. Bowie said after the US trials that she wouldn’t double up, although she appears to have changed her mind? I think if she beats Elaine to the 100m gold we won’t see her in the heats of the 200m. However, I don’t see her beating Elaine, therefore I think she will end up competing in the 200m, and here she has an outstanding chance of gold. Miller-Uibo, with her new Bahamian national record, will be a threat, but I’m not sure the heats of the 200m being before the 400m final will help her. I rate Schippers chances more highly over the longer distance. Asher-Smith continues her comeback and Arianna Washington will be there or thereabouts.
Gold: Dafne Schippers (The Netherlands)
Silver: Tori Bowie (USA)
Bronze: Michelle-Lee Ahye (Trinidad and Tobago)
Brit Watch: Dina Asher-Smith – Final (7th), Bianca Williams – Semis, Shannon Hylton – Semis.
This will probably be an unpopular commentary and I mean no disrespect to the incredible ladies in this event, but for me, a 400m without Christine Ohuruogu is like Christmas without a black forest gateaux. Christine was the first athlete to inspire me and the reason I got into athletics many years ago. Prior to her becoming 2006 Commonwealth champion she came to my school and presented me with a PE award. We were treated to a rousing speech and when I got home I googled her, struggling to find any information, but I began to actively follow her career. Little did 13 year old me know that she would go on to become the single greatest British track and field athlete of all time (don’t @ me on this guys, I will throw my toys out of the pram if you do).
I digress. The line-up is stunning and the Felix-Miller-Uibo re-match should be fascinating. I make no attempt to hide the fact that I am more #TeamMiller but having not had the injury ravaged season she had last year, and having been able to head to the US trials purely to do some speed work, for me, makes Felix the slight favourite. I worry that the circus around the world relays will have detracted from Miller-Uibo’s preparation and makes her slightly vulnerable heading into London. World and olympic bronze medalist Shericka Jackson is the safe bet for a third straight medal, but Novlene Williams-Mills appears to be rolling back the years, heading to the UK with a 50.14 season’s best. My outside bet for the final is Poland’s Justyna Swiety, heading under 51 seconds for the first time.
Gold: Allyson Felix (USA)
Silver: Shaunae Miller-Uibo (The Bahamas)
Bronze: Phyllis Francis (new PB) (USA)
Brit Watch: Emily Diamond – Semi’s. Anyika Onuora – Heats. Zoey Clark – Heats.
Semenya will win her 5th global title and Niyonsaba will follow her home in a new national record. Wambui looks vulnerable to me, I think she will make the final comfortably but fade terribly down the home straight and end up at the back of the field. We should, providing they race sensibly, have two Brit’s in the final and both of them should believe they can get on the podium. Melissa Bishop will be tough to beat and Sifan Hassan is in the form of her life. Many people will fancy Ajee Wilson for a medal and it may well be her time. Realistically, Büchel, Józwik, Almanza, Lidh, Sum etc will all believe the bronze is theres for taking.
Gold: Caster Semenya (New PB) (South Africa)
Silver: Francine Niyonsaba (New PB) (Burundi)
Bronze: Melissa Bishop (New PB) (Canada)
Brit Watch: Lynsey Sharp – Final (4th), Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (6th), Adelle Tracey – Semis.
It’s Sifan Hassan’s year. I love Muir, Dibaba deserves all the respect in the world for what she achieved in 2015, and no-one is a better judge of races than Faith Kipyegon, courtesy of Bram Som’s tutelage. But it is Sifan Hassan’s year. She has been truly remarkable on the circuit, and the area that I think she has most improved on is her kick. The change of pace on lap 3 has been the difference between Dibaba, Kipyegon, Muir and Hassan over the last 18 months, but the dutch star has clearly worked hard on that over winter and now she can out-run anyone. Championship 1500m races are not normally particularly fast, but this time we have the strange scenario where the six best athletes (add in Chebet and Klosterhalfen) are all athletes whose best chance of winning gold is a fast run sub-4 minute race. The final will be an absolute cracker.
Gold: Sifan Hassan (Championship record) (The Netherlands)
Silver: Laura Muir (Great Britain & NI)
Bronze: Faith Kipyegon (Kenya)
Brit Watch: Laura Muir – Final (Silver), Laura Weightman – Final (12th), Jessica Judd – Semis, Sarah McDonal – Semis.
World record holder Ruth Jebet took steeplechasing to new heights last season, and despite heading to the worlds with one of the fastest times ever as a seasons best, she could miss out on a medal altogether. Celliphone Chespol has been the revelation of the season, going second on the world all-time list. Will Kiyeng finally break nine minutes? and will olympic 4th placer Chepkoech step up to the podium? There are also Sofia Assefa and olympic medalist Emma Coburn to contend with and in a slower race Felicitas Krause could repeat her 2015 world medal.
Gold: Beatrice Chepkoech (sub-9 new PB) (Kenya)
Silver: Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi (Kenya)
Bronze: Ruth Jebet (Bahrain)
Brit Watch: Rosie Clarke – Heats, Lennie Waite – Heats.
LONG DISTANCE (ISH)
With no Olympic champion Vivian Cheryuit, and World champion Almaz Ayana struggling to recover from various injuries, the path is possibly clear for Hellen Obiri to win her first global title. Having been one of the best in the world over 1500m for 5 years, Obiri’s transition to 5000m has been nothing short of exceptional, winning an olympic silver last year. In 2017 she has kicked on, running blistering times across various distances and moving to 5th on the world all-time list. I still believe if Ayana starts then she will be extremely difficult to beat, and a slower run race with a burn up would suit Dibaba more than the likes of Yasemin Can and Teferi. In fact, if the race is not run under 15 minute pace then there are a whole host of ladies will be brought into medal contention.
Gold: Hellen Obiri (Kenya)
Silver: Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia)
Bronze: Letesenbet Giday (Ethiopia)
Brit Watch: Laura Muir – Final (6th), Eilish McColgan – Final (9th), Steph Twell – Heats.
If Ayana arrives in shape, then the 10,000m, in which she set the most stunning world record last summer, represents a safer bet for gold. In my opinion, the field is also slightly less competitive than in the 5000m. The US contingent will be strong, as will the Kenyan squad, but we are unlikely to see the blistering times of 2016.
Gold: Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia)
Silver: Alice Aprot Nawowuna (Kenya)
Bronze: Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia)
Brit Watch: Beth Potter – 18th, Charlotte Taylor – 19th, Jess Martin – 24th.
After drawing Helah Kiprop in yesterday’s #fantasylondonluckydip, I am inclined to suggest she will win gold. However, the world silver medalist will have to run the race of her life if that is to be the case.
Gold: Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya)
Silver: Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa (Bahrain)
Bronze: Aselefech Mergia (Ethiopia)
Brit Watch:Alyson Dixon – 8th, Charlotte Purdue – 27th, Tracy Barlow – 30th.
Two years ago in Beijing it went horribly wrong for the Americans, despite four entering the competition, not a single medal was one. Last year Keni Harrison broke the world record, and the US swept the medals at the olympics. I remain unconvinced by Harrison’s ability to perform at the champs. In Beijing she hit a hurdle and failed to make the final. In Portland she smashed into the first barrier in the final and ended up last. We all know what happened at the US trials last year. This year she did win in Sacremento, but, and it’s a big but, there was no pressure, she had already qualified for the worlds as diamond league champion. I just can’t be sure that she will get it right in London. That said, it will be an enormous shock if she doesn’t win gold. Pearson is getting back to her electric form, but her races are inconsistent. One never really knows what the other American’s are going to deliver, and reigning surprise world champion Danielle Williams is better than she was in Beijing. She will also run pressure free.
Gold: Keni Harrison (USA)
Silver: Megan Simmonds (Jamaica)
Bronze: Nia Ali (USA)
- Pearson, Williams, Nelvis and Dutkiewicz to make the final.
Brit Watch: Tiffany Porter’s season has been ruined by injuries but she is the ultimate championship performer. It may be by the skin of her teeth, but I fancy her to make the final and come 8th.
Great Britain’s captain Eilidh Doyle will be looking to make her third world final in a row, and deliver a PB in a championship final for the first time. This season has been a little mixed for her, but I’m a monumental Doyle fan and I desperately hope she makes the podium in London. It is possible. Hurdlers are erratic, and whilst the ladies from the US may tear up the track at home, bar Muhammad, I remain unconvinced. That said, Kori Carter was outstanding in Monaco. I am a little confused as to why the start lists show Ashley Spencer as competing, when she finished outside the top 3 in Sacremento and Cassandra Tate is the diamond league victor. Has Spencer replaced Tate? If so, I may her more likely to win a medal than Carter and Little. Tate herself remains on the start list, but the US cannot have 5 entrants. Hejnová goes for three world titles in a row, and if she does deliver that, we surely have to start talking about her as possibly the greatest of all time?
Gold: Dalilah Muhammad (USA)
Silver: Zuzana Hejnová (Czech Republic)
Bronze: My heart says Eilidh but my head says Janieve Russell (Jamaica)
Brit Watch: Eilidh Doyle – Final (4th – new PB), Meghan Beesley – Semis (huge SB), Jessica Turner – Heats.
Mariya Lasitskene is lightyears ahead of the rest of the field. Given what we now know about doping, perhaps the days of five or six athletes clearing 2m each year are gone. In Lasitkene however, the women’s high jump has found someone who might just possibly take the event to new heights (if you’ll pardon the pub). The world record may be out of reach in London, but given her history and the progression she has made each year since the juniors, the world record looks like it will come at some point. Behind her, the medals are anyones. World indoor champion Vashti Cunningham will probably enter as marginal favourite for the silver, but Kamila Licwinko is the inform athlete. Olympic champion Beitia has a seasons best of 1.98, but that was indoors, and her recent diamond league outing of 1.80 leaves a huge question mark over her. Airiné Palšyté enters as world #2, but her 2.01 was also cleared indoors, and she has not shown that kind of form since the European indoors. The real challenge may end up coming from two ladies already with medals in the bag….
Gold: Mariya Lasitskene (Russia – ANA)
Silver: Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Great Britain & NI)
Bronze: Nafi Thiam (Belgium) & Yulia Levchenko (Ukraine)
Brit Watch: KJT – Final (Silver). Morgan Lake – Final (8th).
The leading ladies are so tightly packed together that one miss-timed attempt at an early height may ruin any hopes of gold. Stefanidi will enter as favourite, but if you’re looking for a surprise champion then I’d suggest the erratic but rapidly improving Eliza McCartney. Great Britain’s Holly Bradshaw will also be going for gold, as well the two 5m ladies, Jenn Surh and Sandi Morris.
Gold: Ekaterini Stefanidi (new PB) (Greece)
Silver: Sandi Morris (USA)
Bronze: Anzhelika Sidorova (Russia – ANA)
Brit Watch: Holly Bradshaw – Final (4th).
Despite a magnificent line-up, the medals will likely be shared amongst the olympic medalists, with Lorraine Ugen pushing them closest. Spanovic began the year with that sensational indoor series, culminting in a jump for 7.24 in front of a home crowd. She has picked up an injury since then, but remains a safe bet. Five women over 6.90m is my expectation for the depth of results. This may be a little optimistic but with the most ridiculous qualification standard of 6.75m being set, I feel the field will push each other to fantastic jumps. Ksenija Balta, Salman-Rath and Klishina should feature heavily in the final.
Gold: Brittney Reese (USA)
Silver: Tianna Bartoletta (USA)
Bronze: Ivana Spanovic (Serbia)
Brit Watch: Lorraine Ugen – Final (4th), Jazmin Sawyers – Final (10th), Shara Proctor – Qualification.
Another event where there are three women ahead of the rest. Ibargüen heads to London not at the top of the world list for the first time in five years. The woman who last beat her in a major – Olga Rypakova – will also be there, but her biggest challenge will come from world indoor champion and super talent – Yulima Rojas. I think on this occasion, the Colombian will just have enough.
Gold: Caterine Ibargüen (Colombia)
Silver: Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela)
Bronze: Olga Rypakova (Khazakhstan)
Brit Watch: No Brits.
Valerie Adams absence, due to pregnancy, free’s up a global medal for only the second time in 15 championships. That is a huge opportunity for one of the ladies in this field. There have been no 20m throws in 2017 and Raven Saunders leads the world list with 19.76. Nevertheless, I suspect it will take more than this to win gold.
Gold: Gong Lijiao (China)
Silver: Anita Márton (Hungary)
Bronze: Daniella Bunch (USA)
Brit Watch: Rachel Wallader – Heats.
Sarah Kolak stunned the Javelin community by winning gold in Rio, and at the recent European under-23’s, improved her Croatian national record to 68.43. In London, she and world record holder Barbora Špotáková will have a fierce battle.
Gold: Sarah Kolak (Croatia)
Silver: Barbora Špotáková (Czech Republic)
Bronze: Tatsiana Khaladovich (Belarus)
Brit Watch: No Brits.
A sublime 71.41 marks Perkovic out as head and shoulders above the rest, and olympic silver medalist Mélina Robert-Michon is way below the dizzy heights she reached last year. A Cuban 2-3 is possible with Perez and Caballero, but ready to spring a surprise is Germany’s Claudine Vita, with her new PB of 64.45
Gold: Sandra Perkovic (Croatia)
Silver: Yaimé Pérez (Cuba)
Bronze: Dani Stevens (Australia)
Brit Watch: Jade Lally – Final (12th).
As she was last year, Wlodarczyk is the most dominant athlete in track and field. In the time between the entry lists being put together and me getting around to this post, the Polish superstar has improved her world lead to 82.87, the second furthest throw in history. The world record will fall again in London. At present, Wlodarczyk is unstoppable.
Gold: Anita Wlodarczyk (new WR) (Poland)
Silver: Zheng Wang (China)
Bronze: Hanna Skydan (Azerbaijan)
Brit Watch: Sophie Hicton – Final (6th). Sophie will raise her game in front of a home crowd, but this season has quite panned out the way she would have liked. There will be many global medals in Hicton’s future, but not in London.
Could it possibly be better than Gotzis? Will we see two women score over 7000 points in the same competition for the first time ever? Will KJT finally get it right on the biggest stage? Without doubt this will be one of the events of the championship, with various national records being shattered. Carlin Schäfer got closest to the olympic champion in Austria and Claudia Salman-Rath is improving at a frightful rate. Laura Ikauniece-Admidina is the most reliable in the field, and with Jess and Brianne both having retired, she may believe that she is the one to beat Thiam.
Gold: Nafi Thiam (Belgium)
Silver: Katarina Johnson-Thompson (new PB of 6800+) (Great Britain & NI)
Bronze: Laura Ikauniece-Admidina (Latvia).
Brit Watch: Kat to hold on to Thiam until the Javelin, at which point I feel she will get lost. However, this will be a PB and her best performance to date, physically and mentally.
Ok I’m going to go bold. I think the US line up will be slightly more vulnerable than in previous championships, and definitely weaker than last year, where three of the individuals had run 10.7s at the US trials. For this reason, I’m going to put my neck on the line with a Jamaican victory. Although the bronze medal could be anyones.
Brit Watch: 5th.
With recent medal upgrades Great Britain and Northern Ireland have medalled at the last six world championships in a row. Sadly that run will come to an end here. The team is weakened by Christine’s absence, and Diamond and Onuora are both below their best. This, coupled with a strongly improved Polish side and revitalised Ukrainian squad mean that this time, a medal will be just out of reach. There is a large positive however, the return of Peri Shakes-Drayton is an extraordinarily welcome event, hopefully this is just the start of her finally being able to fulfil her promise.
Brit Watch: 5th
20KM RACE WALK
A Chinese 1-2-3 is a real possibility in the shorter race walk with Xiuzhi Lyu the fastest on paper. One of the youngest in the field Lyu looks capable of revising her PB to under 1:25 which would be truly remarkable. I do however, fancy old campaigner Ainhoa Pinedo, who set a new PB this year, to break up the party.
Gold: Xuizhi Lyu (China)
Silver: Jiayu Yang (China)
Bronze: Ainhoa Pinedo (Portugal)
Brit Watch: Gemma Bridge – 19th (new PB), Bethan Davies – 26th (new PB).
50KM RACE WALK
The last minute inclusion of this event has caused a bit of controversy in the athletics world, with some feeling the move has been made as deliberate sabotage by the IAAF. I can see why people would feel this way. Having only six athletes in the event certainly makes a mockery of it, however, for one of these women, a world title beckons.
Gold: Inês Henriques (Portugal)
Silver: Shuqing Yang (China)
Bronze: Hang Yin (China)
Brit Watch: No Brits.
Overall, I’ve gone for six British medals (men and women), down one from Rio, but with four of them coming in different events to those last year. The relay’s could well add to that tally, but I think two golds (Mo – 5000m & 10,000m), three silvers (KJT – Heptathlon and High Jump, Muir – 1500m) and one bronze (Grabarz – High Jump) would represent a successful week for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as we transition from the dominance of Mo, Christine, Jess and Greg, to the search for new stars.