Thursday, September 10, 2009
Athletics Final will see last gathering of top athletes
There will be other meets to close out the season, but none will attract the number of top athletes that this weekend's World Athletics Final will host.
With only the top athletes in each event invited to participate in a single final, the Athletics Final is much closer to what a real World Championships should be like - just the best against the best. As such it will make for a very exciting weekend of track and field - the last of the year.
Most fans will be looking to get their last look at double world champion Usain Bolt, who this weekend will contest only the 200 meters. But there will be stars aplenty including:
David Rudisha (KEN). World Champion at 800 meters, Rudisha just became the #4 performer of all time with his 1:42.01 in Rieti.
Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS). Went from clearing no heights in Berlin to setting a new WR in the pole vault with her 5.06 clearance in Zurich.
Kenenisa Bekele (ETH). World Champion in the 5000 and WR holder in both the 5000 and 10000 meter events. Bekele will be competing over 3000 meters and 5000 meters in Greece.
Blanka Vlasic (CRO). World Champion in the high jump Vlasic became the #2 all time jumper with her 2.08 clearance in Zagreb - a mere .01 cm off of Stefka Kostadinova's 22 year old WR!
Sanya Richards (US). World Champion in the 400 and twice now under 49 seconds this season. Already #7 all time, Richards looks ready to perhaps move up a notch or two on the list.
Dwight Phillips (US). World Champion in the long jump and =#5 all time in the event. Final opportunity for Phillips to shoot for the magical 29 foot barrier. Having won gold in Berlin perhaps we'll see more attempts and a bit of abandon from Phillips in Greece.
And in a few events we get some interesting match ups, among them:
Tyson Gay (US) and Asafa Powell (JAM). The #2 & #3 fastest 100 meter men of all time (and silver and bronze medalists at Worlds) square off for the final time. Gay has dominated the matchup this season, but a horrible start lead to a Powell victory in Brussels. Last chance for both to get closer to Bolt's record time.
Allyson Felix (US), Sanya Richards (US) and Kerron Stewart (JAM). World 200 champion Felix, meets World 400 champion Richards, with 10.75 100 woman Stewart thrown in for good measure! Sub22 should be in the mix with Stewart setting the early pace. A time of 21.74 or better moves into the top 10!
Melaine Walker (JAM) and Lashinda Demus (US). The World Champion and runner up are also #2 and #4 on the all time list. And with one last shot at each other its quite possible we could see a change or two to that list before the end of the weekend.
While Bolt will most certainly be the headliner, it's been easy to forget this season that in his shadow have been some of history's best performers in their events. I hope that in their presentation of the event, that announcers and TV folk make sure to pay homage to ALL the great athletes that will be in attendance! We need to shine a light on all the excellence this sport has to offer in order for the sport to move forward and take its rightful place as one of the greatest showcases of talent on the planet!
Should be an exciting two days of competition this weekend. Entry lists can be found here. World Athletics Final website here.