Are we nearly there yet?
It seems to have been in another lifetime the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 kicked off with men’s long jump qualification. But here we are, day 10 bearing down and, like kids in the back seat on a family car trip, asking “are we nearly there yet?”
Yes, kids, we are. But there’s a feast of goodies on the final day to keep us engaged until journey’s ends. More relay action - the 4x400m this time; two men’s distance events – the 1500m and 10,000m; the women’s 100m hurdles; and two field events – men’s javelin and women’s long jump.
This has got ‘relay’ more demanding
The introduction of the mixed relay has made the traditional 4x400m events problematic. With the men’s and women’s individual 400m being pushed three days deeper into the programme, depth and numbers are tested more than ever. This should favour the traditional powers – the USA chief among them – but the long relays always produce some surprises and surely will do so again. Trinidad and Tobago are defending men’s champions, the USA holds the women’s title.
The long and the short of men’s distances
Day 10 brings the long and short of men’s track distance running in the 1500m and 10,000m.
Heats and semis of the 1500m indicate a hotly-contested final. Timothy Cheruiyot will start favourite, but several men could confound that expectation. It’s difficult to look ‘easy’ in 1500m qualification, but Cheruiyot, teenager Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Marcin Lewandowski and the surprising Kalle Berglund are among those to have come through with a minimum of fuss.
With the retirement of Mo Farah from track competition, the 10,000m will see a new champion for the first time since 2013. World cross-country champion Joshua Cheptegei, silver medallist two years ago, is one of several with strong claims. Others include Yomif Kejelcha, Hagos Gebrhiwet and Rhonex Kipruto.
Limited races over this distance make form very hard to read.
No defending champ makes hurdles a tough pick
Sally Pearson, winner in 2017, is not defending her title, taking the most consistent championships performer out. World record-holder Kendra Harrison has an equivocal championship record. 2015 champion Danielle Williams leads the world list and comes in with three Diamond League wins in a row, including the final.
Williams is the one to beat. Several have the potential to do so, but will any of them deliver.
Strong German presence in javelin
The women javelin throwers struggled with conditions inside the Khalifa Stadium, so, too, did some of the men.
Leading the big names to miss out were Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and his German teammate Andreas Hofmann. But Germany will still have a strong hand, Johannes Vetter leading qualifying overall with a throw of 89.35m. Julian Weber also got through.
World leader Magnus Kirt was also comfortably through with an 88.66m effort. This pair were well clear of anyone else, but Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Chao-Tsun, Kenya’s Julius Yego and 2012 Olympic gold medallist Keshorn Walcott also made it through. Do we need to say again – hello, Kelsey-Lee Barber – the final is another day.
If you’re getting the impression this is anyone’s gold, you’re right. It comes down to who handles the occasion and the conditions best.
Mihambo may give Germany a long jump winner
Germany has not produced a medallist in this event since Heike Drechsler won in Stuttgart 26 years ago. That should change with world leader Malaika Mihambo (7.16m), but will it be gold? Nigeria’s Ese Brume has also bettered seven metres this year. The men’s long jump sprung a surprise with Tajay Gayle, might someone upend the form chart here, too?
Defending champion, and four-time winner, Brittney Reese was the major casualty of qualifying. Indeed, two of the four US jumpers went out, leaving Torie Bowie and Sha'keela Saunders the sole representatives in the final. The good news for the US is Bowie looks a real medal contender.
Len Johnson for the IAAF