The IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 reaches the half-way point on Wednesday (26). Here is a quintet of things to watch out for.
1 The 90-metre line
It had got a little bit out of fashion, but the 90-metre line has made a comeback in the men’s javelin. The big guys have been peppering the line and that is where the medal-winning throws should be landing.
One of 2015’s 90-metre men, Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott, missed out in qualifying but among those there or thereabouts already this year and last have been Kenya’s Julius Yego (91.39m), Germany’s Thomas Rohler (89.27m), Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed (89.21m in 2014), and Finland’s Tero Pitkamaki (89.09m) and Antti Ruuskanen (88.98m).
Asked for a comment, the 90m line said: “Ouch.”
2 The men’s 400m
The heats saw the greatest 400m preliminary round ever, with two going sub-44 and a truckload of season’s and personal bests. The semis were a little cooler but expect the final to be hot, hot, hot.
Four of the finalists have broken 44 seconds this year – Kirani James, Isaac Makwala, Wayde van Niekerk and Yousef Masrahi (who did it in the heats). Defending champion La Shawn Merritt looked as good as he has all season in the semi-final. It’s a wide open race. James has the competitive record to win, but will have to produce his best to do it.
3 Women’s pole vault
The first final to commence on day five and no doubt one of the last to be completed. 2013 world bronze medallist Yarisley Silva of Cuba heads the world list with a 4.91m a few weeks ago. Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou is next at 4.83m and boasts wins in the Paris and London IAAF Diamond League meetings.
USA’s Olympic champion Jenn Suhr will again be hard to beat while Brazil’s Fabiana Murer is consistently among the top flight. As we saw in the men’s final, first-time clearances will be at a premium as the bar goes higher.
4 Women’s 3000m steeplechase
Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa, who took bronze in 2013, is the only medallist from Moscow back, along with team-mate Hiwot Ayalew, who finished fourth. Kenya has also rung the changes with only sixth-place finisher Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi back two years later. She and Virginia Nyambura Nganga have been the two leading Kenyans on the circuit this year.
But Tunisia’s Habib Ghibri was most impressive in the heats and Emma Coburn of the USA has shown the capacity to take it up to the east African runners.
5 Women’s 400m hurdles
Defending champion Zuzana Hejnova was long odds to retain her title at the start of the season after missing 2014 through injury. But she has come rocketing back into contention and will go into the final as favourite.
Last year’s world junior champion Shamier Little of the USA actually shades Hejnova at the top of the world list, but has not looked impressive in the preliminary rounds. The consistent Kaliese Spencer and Denmark’s fast-improving Sara Slott Petersen will be thereabouts, too.
Best of the rest
The men’s 200m semi-finals are also on the evening card featuring someone people may have heard of – Usain Bolt. The morning session sees one of the most highly-anticipated events of the championships get under way with the qualifying rounds of the men’s triple jump while Mo Farah will join Bolt in the quest for a double when he runs the 5000m heats.
Len Johnson for the IAAF