It starts tomorrow – the year’s biggest meet. So what are we looking at as we get ready to name the sport’s champions?
For starters we’ll be missing some big names in the sprints. Injury took out Tyson Gay (USA, 9.79) at the U.S. Trials. Drug bans this summer have taken out Steve Mullings (JAM, 9.80/20.11) and Mike Rodgers (USA, 9.85). The 400 lost Jeremy Wariner to injury this summer. Then on Thursday we got word that Asafa Powell (JAM, 9.78) is withdrawing due to injury. There’s still a lot of talent left, however, and with Bolt still not looking in ‘08/’09 form things could be very interesting. The female sprinters, by comparison, have all arrived intact, and we should see some terrific battles. Keep a close eye on the women’s 200, with what should be Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM), Allyson Felix (USA) and new threat Carmelita Jeter (USA).
The middle distance runners have been very quiet this summer. The only thing that is certain is that David Rudisha leads a strong Kenyan contingent of 800 & 1500 meter runners that should pick up the bulk of the hardware being handed out in Daegu. Ditto the long distances where athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia will be out in full force. But keep an eye on non-Africans Mo Farah (GBR) and Bernard Lagat (USA) who should break up any African sweeps. Also keep an eye on Shalane Flanagan who should make the women’s 10,000 interesting as well.
The hurdle races could be among the most competitive events of the meet. All the major players have survived the summer and are in Daegu and ready to rumble. The men’s 110’s have the three fastest men in history – Dayron Robles (CUB, 12.87), Liu Xiang (CHN, 12.88) & David Oliver (USA, 12.89) – and new threat Jason Richardson (USA, 13.08). Also look for something special in the women’s 400 hurdles where the meet record could be under pressure from Kaliese Spencer (JAM, 52.79), Zuzana Hejnova (CZE, 53.29), Lashinda Demus (53.31) and Melaine Walker (JAM, 53.56). I expect this stretch run to be one of the best of the meet!
The field events also lost a couple of stellar names to injury this summer. The triple jump lost world leader Teddy Tamgho (FRA, 17.91m/58’ 9”) while the Decathlon will be without defending Champion Bryan Clay (USA). They were threats to be on the podium and will be missed. But both events will still be competitive and exciting with lots of young talent looking to crash the party lead by Ashton Eaton (USA) in the Decathlon and Christian Taylor (USA) in the triple jump. In the field watch the return of Yelena Isinbayeva in the pole vault after a year off from the sport, and a potential “Summit Meeting’ in the men’s vault between Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) and emerging Pawel Wojciechowski (POL). I also expect close fought battles in the men’s long jump, women’s long jump, and men’s shot put, and for Kibwe Johnson (USA) to join our strongmen in the shot as a throws medalist.
Just a few final thoughts before the starter’s gun fires.
My “Lock of the Meet” is David Rudisha in the men’s 800. The most dominant athlete of 2010 just may be the most dominant of 2011.
My “Upset Special”, look for Will Claye to get on the podium in the long jump.
My “Battle Royale”, tie between the women’s 200 and the men’s 5000 & 110 hurdles.
I won’t be surprised if:
- Morgan Uceny wins the 1500
- We see a WR in the 110H
- Jessica Ennis scores 7000 points
- The U.S. wins all four relays
I will be shocked if:
- The winner of the men’s 100 isn’t Jamaican or American
- There is a sweep in any event on the track
- We fail to medal in the men’s shot put
- We fail to improve our medal count from Berlin
Saturdays Big Events:
- Finals in the Women's Marathon & 10,000 meters
- Day One of the Decathlon
- Opening rounds of the Men’s 800 & 100, and Women’s 400
OK. Nothing left now but for the athletes to file into the stadium and the starter to announce “On Your Mark” !