Qatar already has a medal at these IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, courtesy of Abderrahman Samba’s bronze in the 400m hurdles.
But the one best hope of a gold medal comes on day eight with Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump. The pre-eminent jumper of much of the past decade, Barshim has had a race against time for fitness after a serious ankle injury last year. He jumped a season’s best 2.29m in qualifying.
Another defending champion racing back to form and fitness is Conseslus Kipruto in the steeplechase where years of Kenyan hegemony will come under threat.
All that, and lots more, including the heats of the men’s and women’s 4x100m relay await on day eight.
Barshim among a raft of gold medal chances
The high jump is as open as any event at these championships. No-one has had a stand-out season. If you’ll excuse us saying so, it’s been an up and down year.
As noted above, Barshim seems to be coming in to form just in time. Australia’s Brandon Starc was last year’s Diamond Race winner and looked good in qualifying. This year’s world lead with 2.35m, Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus, on the other hand, struggled.
Finals are another day and pretty well every finalist has claims to a medal. Cuba’s young Luis Enrique Zayas, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi, authorised neutral athletes Mikhail Akimenko and Ilya Ivanyuk, China’s Yu Wang.
Get the start list and stick a pin in it: it’s as good a way as any of predicting the gold medallist here.
Kipruto’s late dash to form
Like Barshim, Conseslus Kipruto hadn’t given much indication he could successfully defend his steeple title here before the heats. Then, he gave a masterclass, complete with a mid-race admonition of an Ethiopian rival for making contact with him, a rev-up to the crowd and then teammate Bernard Kigen on the final bend.
There is a real threat, though, that Kenya’s stranglehold on the steeple could be broken here. Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, or any of the strong Ethiopian trio of Chala Beyo, Getnet Wale and Lamecha Girma are among those capable.
Expect Kipruto to have something to say about that – probably as he comes up the straight in first place!
Perkovic yet another champion under challenge
Sandra Perkovic has ruled the women’s discus for years, but the defending champ faces a battle royale if she is to claim the gold again.
It’s been a down-ish sort of season for Perkovic, with Cuban pair Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero challenging her at every turn.
Can Perkovic escape in the final reel? Tune in for the next exciting episode.
McLaughlin v Muhammad in 400m hurdles
Has the moment arrived for prodigious young talent Sydney McLaughlin to stamp her mark on the 400m hurdles.
McLaughlin faces a second-to-none opportunity, a strange thing to say, perhaps, given that Dalilah Muhammad defeated her, and set a new world record, at the US championships.
But McLaughlin has looked the goods so far here. It seems to be between the two Americans, with the rest, led by another emerger in Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton, fighting for bronze.
Men’s 400m wide open
The demise of favourite Michael Norman in the semis has left the men’s 400m open. Steven Gardiner, Machel Cedenio, Fred Kerley, even the returning former champion Kirani James, are all among the chances for gold.
Meanwhile, down on the Corniche
The men’s 20km race walk will be raced around Doha’s Corniche to conclude day eight’s programme (and as prelude to day nine’s). Japanese race walkers dominate this year’s world list. The country is on a roll after Yusuke Suzuki took out the 50km gold earlier in the championships.
Len Johnson for the IAAF