Danielle Williams in the 100m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Doha, Qatar

Preview: women's 100m hurdles - IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

When Danielle Williams won the world 100m hurdles title four years ago, it was seen as one of the biggest surprise performances of the championships. Now, however, she heads to Doha as one of the favourites in her event.

A false start in the 100m hurdles final at the Jamaican Championships meant she faced the prospect of missing the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 altogether. But as the season gained momentum, so did Williams and over the past couple of months she has produced the four fastest time of her career.

At the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London she ran a PB of 12.41 in her heat and followed it with a national record of 12.32 to win the final, moving to seventh on the world all-time list. She notched up two more IAAF Diamond League victories, winning in Birmingham and at the final in Zurich, clocking 12.46 on both occasions.

More significantly, though, she defeated Kendra Harrison both times.

Harrison started the season in flying form. The world record-holder won 10 consecutive races, including heats, and beat Williams on two occasions, including at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco where Harrison recorded a season’s best of 12.43. Harrison gained further confidence by winning at the highly competitive US Championships, running 12.44 into a -1.2m/s headwind.

The 27-year-old had a shaky start to her international championships campaign, having been disqualified for a false start at the 2015 World Championships, placing eighth at the 2016 World Indoor Championships, missing selection for the 2016 Olympics and finishing fourth at the 2017 World Championships.

But her victory at the 2018 World Indoor Championships showed that she is more than capable of performing when it matters. And if anything, perhaps having her winning streak broken before Doha will help ease the pressure on Harrison heading into the World Championships.

The US team includes two other women with strong championship credentials.

Two-time world indoor champion Nia Ali returned to action earlier this year after taking the 2018 season off to give birth to her second child. After giving birth to her first child in 2015, Ali went on to win her second world indoor title in 2016 and followed it with Olympic silver later that year.

Her most recent maternity break clearly hasn’t slowed her down either and she has consistently featured among the top three or four finishers in almost all of her races this year. Her most impressive run of 2019 came at the competitive US Championships where she ran 12.55 – the third-fastest time of her career – into a -1.2m/s headwind.

“Having babies makes us stronger,” she tweeted after that race. “There’s nothing weak about having a baby, so what makes any one person think we won’t ‘make it through it’ and succeed?”

Brianna McNeal may have only won a couple of races this year, but the Olympic gold medallist and 2013 world champion clearly knows what it takes to reach a global championships podium.

Janeek Brown, who won the NCAA title in 12.40 to hold the Jamaican record for a matter of weeks before Williams broke it, heads to Doha as the second-fastest woman in the world. After a long collegiate season, though, her recent races haven’t quite matched the times she was running earlier in the season. Compatriot Megan Tapper equalled her PB of 12.63 in July and followed it with bronze at the Pan American Games.

Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan has had one of her best seasons to date, clocking a PB of 12.49 in July and following it with 12.51 to win at the recent ISTAF meeting in Berlin. Over the past 18 months the Nigerian has won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, African Championships and African Games, so clearly thrives in a championship setting.

Other potential finalists include Pan American champion Andrea Vargas of Costa Rica, European champion Elvira Herman of Belarus, European indoor champion Nadine Visser of the Netherlands and Finnish record-holder Annimari Korte.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF