Just four gold medals on day seven of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 as we catch our breath and gather ourselves for the run home.
The heptathlon and decathlon come to an end. As competitive pressure builds and fatigue sets in, each event becomes its own mini-final. You can’t win a multi-event gold medal in one event, but you can certainly lose it.
A pole vault no-height is the mine the decathletes must tiptoe around, three fouls in the long jump is the one for the heptathletes to avoid.
A bit of trivia: the ‘after midnight’ conclusion for both multi-events has necessitated a tweak to the rules of competition. Instead of the decathlon and heptathlon being contested over two consecutive days, the rules now mandate they must be contested over two consecutive 24-hour periods.
The women’s 400 and shot put will also be decided.
Who has the strongest second day?
Each competitor takes a different route through the multi-event, depending on their own strengths across the disciplines. Mostly, it’s about days: a strong first day is the norm, but there will be some lurking back outside the medals after day one who will come home with a wet sail on day two.
The decathlon second day comprises the 110m hurdles, the discus, the pivotal pole vault – big scorer and potential disaster alike – the javelin and the 1500m.
Day two of the heptathlon starts with the long jump, ends with the 800m and has the javelin in between. If Nafissatou Thiam and Katarina Johnson-Thompson have avoided disasters up till then, expect a terrific battle right to the end.
Who puts it furthest out there?
The appeal of the shot lies in the incongruity of the effort expended to move the heavy round ball – 4kg for women, 7.26kg for men – over a relatively short distance. A classic strong man’s, or woman’s, event.
It’s the women’s turn to go for gold today; the men have qualifying.
China’s Gong Lijao, the defending champion, is the only woman to go beyond 20 metres this year (20.31m in the Diamond League final). Gong has lost just once, to Chase Ealey who beat her on Gong’s home ground at the Shanghai Diamond League.
Those two, along with German veteran Christina Schwanitz, look to have the medals locked up. But you know what happens as soon as you say things like that!
One track final, but it’s a burner
The women’s 400 is the only track event final on the program, but what a battle looms between Shaunae Miller-Uibo and Salwa Eid Naser. On form shown here, it is hard to see anyone else winning, though defending champion Phyllis Francis, Wadeline Jonathas and Shericka Jackson all have claims on at least a minor medal.
Stylistically, the clash of the big two has elements of Marie-Jose Perec v Cathy Freeman. Miller-Uibo, tall and with a relaxed, languid style; Eid Nasser compact and busier though with a deceptively long stride relative to her height.
Given this, perhaps the fact Miller-Uibo has looked so easy to date is a bit of an optical illusion. Unless it is a mirage, however, you fancy she will finally take the title.
Getting under way . . .
Four events continue to progress towards finals. It’s the first round of the men’s 1500, semis of the women’s 1500, and qualifying for men’s shot put and women’s triple jump.
Len Johnson for the IAAF