Defending World champion Betty Heidler of Germany throws a Championship Record of 75.27m in the women's Hammer Throw qualification in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Berlin, Germany

Berlin 2009 - Expected highlights / DAILY PREVIEW - Day Eight, 22 Aug

The penultimate Day Eight of the IAAF World Championships in Athletics brings the prospect of a battle royal in the men’s Long Jump.

Phillips leads strong Long Jump field

Olympic gold and silver medallists, Irving Saladino of Panama, who has jumped 8.63 metres this season, and Godfrey Mokoena of South Africa (an 8.50m Area Record) line up against Dwight Phillips, the 2003 and 2005 champion from the USA, who looks to be in the form of his life, after leaping out to 8.74m at the start of the season. Phillips, also the 2004 Olympic champ has trimmed down his weight by over 10 kilos this year, and is almost literally ‘flying’.

But there are several others with potential to contest the medals, notably the young Aussie duo of Mitchell Watt and Fabrice Delapierre, along with Salim Sdiri of France and Yahya Berrabah of Morocco. But Saladino won’t let his title go without giving us another great field event contest.

In men’s Marathon, focus on Kenya, of course

Considering their 90% winning record on the independent Marathon circuit, it was astonishing that Luke Kibet’s victory in Osaka was the first for a Kenyan man in the World Champs. But a team here with the slowest man, Benjamin Kiptoo clocking in at 2:07.17, with a three-win streak to his name suggests that a repeat may be on the cards, the more so since four-time Boston winner, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, is also on the squad, along with Abel Kirui, Daniel Rono and Emmanuel Mutai.

Again the ‘difficult’ neighbours, the Ethiopians will be to the fore, and with Tsegaye Kebede and Deriba Merga have two men with exceptional championships credentials, i.e. second and fourth at last year’s Olympic Games. It’s always difficult to call a Marathon, but withdrawal with a back injury of the most consistent man in the world this century, double champion (and Olympic silver medallist) Jaouad Gharib of Morocco makes the race even more unpredictable.

Defar to make amends in the 5000m?

In another east African face-off, it is hard to see defending champion, Meseret Defar and Ethiopian colleague Meselech Melkamu making the same mistake in the 5000m final that they made against Linet Masai of Kenya in the 10,000.

But although Defar has easily the fastest time in the world this year, 14:24.37, she was well beaten in the longer race, and her endurance must be in question. At least Melkamu can cure the lack of tactical awareness that cost her the 10,000m title, and there is no Masai at this shorter distance. This will undoubtedly be another Ethiopians v Kenyans race, and given that the latter trio of Silvia Kibet, Vivian Cheruiyot and Iness Chenonge are all within four seconds of one another around the 14:40 mark, another great tactical race is in prospect.

More German hopes on the infield – Heidler in the Hammer and a duo in Pole Vault

Olympic Pole vault champ Steve Hooker is nurturing a groin strain, which may explain the single successful attempt at 5.65m, which saw him qualify. Whereas the young French ace, Renaud Lavillenie, was far more circumspect, working up to the same height. Lavillenie is the latest addition to the elite Six Metre Club, and his colleague Romain Mesnil, silver in Osaka, is a championships performer. The home crowd may propel Alexander Straub and Malte Mohr to greater heights, and if the weather gets back to early week temperatures, this could be a hot contest all round.

Apart from a bronze medal in Helsinki, Tatyana Lysenko of Russia has little else to underwrite her hammer world record, ditto another long thrower, Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland, who has thrown a personal best 77.20m this year. With Cuban Yipsi Moreno out for the season, reigning champion Betty Heidler is the most consistent thrower, and someone capable of pulling it out on the night, and securing another throws gold for the hosts.

The sprint relays were going to be the latest chapter in the Hot-War between Jamaica and the USA, until the latter’s men managed to get disqualified (again), this time for running beyond the changeover zone in the semis. The Jamaicans themselves had some very scrappy changes, albeit with two reserves, who will be replaced with Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt for today’s final. Another World record in the offing?

The US women, in contrast have the fillip of Allyson Felix’s 200 gold, which broke the Jamaican stranglehold on the sprint titles, and this should be a much more competitive race, with the Bahamians and Trinidadians also vying for medals.

Pat Butcher for the IAAF