Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce after competing in the 100m heats at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
Five more sets of medals are decided on day three of the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015.
We preview what to look forward to on a fascinating day of competition inside the Bird’s Nest stadium.
1. Women’s 100m
Following the spine-tingling drama of the men’s 100m, it is the turn of the world’s fastest women to take centre stage with semi-finals at 7.40pm local time followed by the final at 9.35pm.
Leading the way will be Jamaica’s ‘pocket rocket’ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who is seeking an unprecedented third world 100m title to sit alongside her two Olympic golds in the event.
The diminutive sprinter with the lightning start is the 2015 world leader for the event and after a hugely impressive first round outing, where she posted a blistering time of 10.88, she sent out a warning to her rivals that she will take all the beating.
Waiting to pounce should Fraser-Pryce show any signs of weakness are a host of potential medal contenders led by the US champion Tori Bowie and her compatriot, the world number two English Gardner.
Nigeria’s versatile Blessing Okagbare and her fellow African Murielle Ahoure, of Ivory Coast, should also be contenders. Meanwhile, don’t rule out 2014 European champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands.
It will be fast, it will be furious, and the race for medals could be breathtakingly tight.
2. Men’s 3000m steeplechase
A four-on-one fight never seems fair, but America’s Evan Jager will hope to beat those unlikely odds to defeat a powerful quartet of Kenyan athletes and claim his country’s first ever gold medal – and first ever medal –. in the event at an IAAF World Championships.
Jager set a US record of 8:00.45 in Paris last month, and did sod despite taking a tumble at the last barrier!
The road to gold will, however, be formidable.
Leading the Kenyan challenge is three-time defending champion, the flamboyant Ezekiel Kemboi, who is chasing a fourth successive world title (and seventh straight medal having won silver medals in 2003, 05 and 07) and world number one Jairus Birech, a three-time winner on the Diamond League circuit this year. The final is underway at 9.15pm.
3. Women’s 10,000m
This event poses one key question; is the 2011 champion Vivian Cheruiyot back to her very best?
If so, then undoubtedly the Kenyan – who is also a two-time World 5000m champion – will be the athlete to beat. If not, then it could leave the door ajar for one of her rivals to strike gold.
Cheruiyot’s comeback season after giving birth to her first child last year included an impressive victory at the Kenyan trials, although her overall form has not quite reached her previous extraordinarily high standards.
Expect her compatriot, London 2012 Olympic Games silver medallist Sally Kipyego, and the world number one and former world indoor 1500m champion, Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka, to also feature. The starting pistol will be fired at 8.35pm.
4. Men’s pole vault
The king of the men’s pole vault, Renaud Lavillenie will be desperate to finally add the one major title missing from his collection.
The Olympic and European has frustratingly never been a world champion – he has won one silver and two bronze – and the world record holder would dearly love to put that right. The French vaulting ace is the only man to have surpassed the six metres this season and should he deliver of his best, it is hard to see who can challenge him for gold.
However, the pole vault is a notoriously technical event and on several occasions this season even the great Lavillenie has wobbled. Looking to potentially profit will be Germany’s defending champion Raphael Holzdeppe, Canada’s Pan American champion Shawn Barber and US champion Sam Kendricks.
The action in the men’s pole vault gets underway at 7.05pm.
5. Women’s triple jump
As the holder of one the longest unbeaten streaks in the sport, defending champion Caterine Ibarguen would appear to hold all the chips in today’s final. The 31-year-old has rattled off 28 straight wins since her last defeat – when winning 2012 Olympic silver in London – and the Colombian will take all the beating when the final starts at 7.30pm.
Her challengers should not, however, be discounted. Ekaterina Koneva of Russia is the world leader with a wind-legal 15.04m and is sure to be threat despite her struggles in qualifying
Meanwhile, the 2011 world champion Olga Saladukha of Ukraine and Kazakhstan’s 2012 Olympic champion Olga Rypakova could also be a significant factor.
Look out too for Bulgaria’s much-improved Gabriela Petrova, the 2015 European indoor silver medallist lead the qualifiers.
Best of the rest
After some dazzling men’s 400m times set in Sunday’s heats, the semi-finals from 8.05pm is eagerly anticipated.
Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Ahmed Masrahi and Rusheen McDonald made huge breakthroughs by recorded the fastest ever first round times at a World Championships both clocking 43.93, the former an Asian record and the latter a Jamaican record, and one wonders what they can produce in tonight’s races.
Also on the track will be Czech Republic’s defending world champion Zuzana Hejnova in the semi-finals of the women’s 400m hurdles at 7.10pm. The heats of the women’s 3000m steeplechase (9.45am) and first round heats of women’s 400m (10.45am) also take place in the morning session,
A busy day of field event qualifications take place with women’s pole vault at 9.30am, women’s discus at 9.35am (Group A) and 10.55am (Group B). The battle to win a place in the men’s long jump final will begin at 10am and men’s javelin qualification pools A and B will start at 7pm and 8.25pm, respectively.
Steve Landells for the IAAF