Maria Mutola stumbles in her heat of the women's 800m (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 26 August 2003 – Paris, France

Day Four - What to expect in the Stade

Paris, FranceWell, the two shortest disciplines in the programme are now concluded with White and Collins having been crowned as champions but we welcome the toughest of all events. The men facing the longest ordeal of the 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Paris 2003 Saint-Denis, take to their blocks for their own 100m races, the starting point of the Decathlon competition.

One man shines bright in the world of Combined Events, Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic and we can be reasonably sure that the world record holder, despite rumours of a recent injury scare will be to the fore of the event.

Chasing all the way will be America’s World Indoor Heptathlon champion Tom Pappas, who beat the Czech to that title in Birmingham but who has since been soundly defeated by Sebrle in Goetzis (8585 to 8807pts). The two men head the world season standings.

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase and 400 metres

Five gold medals will be decided today, and two of the bids for World titles have already been well documented on the IAAF internet and so I shall say no more than that Qatar stands on the brink of it’s first ever World championships title - click here for link to story - and the hosts France will do battle with the USA for dominance of the longest sprint, the men’s 400 metres – click here for link to story one and click here for story two.

There will be two field event finals contested, the women’s Triple Jump and the men’s Discus Throw.

It’s Lebedeva's and Mbango's for the taking 

Unlike the men's event yesterday, the women’s Triple Jump has no outstanding favourite. In a summer of entertaining battles in this event, three women have been over 15 metres. Of these, two are competing – Tatyana Lebedeva and Francoise Etone Mbango - and the third, Cuban Yamile Aldama is in the midst of a change of nationality and was not entered for Paris.

Lebedeva, Russia’s reigning World champion who supported a dramatic coloured hairdo (which had been prepared in her national colours) when winning the title in Edmonton, is the second furthest jumper of the year with 15.12m. That performance came on one of the two occasions that the Russian defeated Aldama this summer.

Mbango of the Cameroon has set an African Area record this season (15.03) and like Lebedeva has taken Aldama’s scalp too – Zurich 14.97 to 14.66 – and is in the fight for gold, with perhaps Senegal’s surprise World Indoor bronze medallist Ndoye Kéné in with a shout too.

Riedel bids for number six

It is of course more than appropriate that on the afternoon that five gold medals are at stake that five times World Discus champion Lars Riedel, Germany’s ‘Mr. Discus’ should be bidding for a sixth title, a feat which if achieved would equal Sergey Bubka’s record of six World crowns in one individual event.

Confidently looking to deny the German is European champion Robert Fazekas of Hungary, who this season is the only man to have broken the 70m barrier. Also in podium mood could be Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania.

It’s Maria all the way

That ‘just’ leaves us with Mozambique’s Maria Mutola, oops sorry, the women’s 800 metres Final. No, I was right first time, as it would be the greatest shock of Paris 2003 Saint-Denis if the World and Olympic champion from Mozambique was defeated today.

Mutola has been challenged by ever possible tactic this year, over the fastest of races as in Madrid (1:55.55) or the relatively slow contest that were Berlin (1:50.01) or Zurich (1:50.93). Add to this sum the fact that her nearest challenger Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia had to withdraw before the heats injured and you have one outcome – a third World outdoor title for Mutola.