Karsten Warholm in the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)
Day four of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 looms either as ‘favourites’ day or the day of upsets - most likely, a bit of both.
Of the six gold medal events to be decided, four have red-hot favourites, the remaining two look wide open.
In further track action we have the women’s 200m heats and the men’s 200m moves to the semi-finals. There are first-round heats in the men’s 110m hurdles, the women’s 400m, and qualifying in the women’s javelin to keep us entertained.
Lasistskene the one to beat
For several years now, the story of women’s high jump has been: everyone jumps; Mariya Lasistskene clears 2.00m, or higher; Mariya Lasitskene wins.
There’s a good chance the first two will happen again. Everyone will jump. Lasitskene will clear 2.00m. BUT, it’s conceivable she could lose.
Yuliya Levchenko handed her a rare defeat at the Europe v USA match, Vashti Cunningham has been over two metres and a few others are capable of it on the day.
While this doesn’t quite amount to ‘upset written all over it’, the battle for the gold could be closer than we think.
Warholm faring best of the 400m hurdles star trio
The year started with Karsten Warholm, Rai Benjamin and Abderrahman Samba sharing favouritism for the 400m hurdles. Samba bettered 47 seconds last year, Warholm and Benjamin have followed suit in 2019.
Defending champion Warholm has looked the best in the run-up to Doha. He beat Benjamin, 46.92 to 46.98, in the first race ever with two men sub-47 seconds, and has looked more impressive in the rounds. Samba is coming back from injury.
Then, just as it looked a race in three, along came Brazil’s Alison dos Santos. While still short of the big three, he is peaking at the right time.
That world record might yet come under threat.
Chepkoech to stay on track this time?
Two years ago in London, Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs went 1-2 in the women's steeplechase after a series of bizarre events derailed Beatrice Chepkoech.
The Kenyan missed the first water jump, having to double back and clear it, then took a tumble and was spent late in the race.
Now, it may be payback time. Chepkoech set a magnificent world record last year and looks simply unbeatable. We shall see.
Winfred Yavi, Geza Krause, Peruth Chemutai and the two US women will all be in the mix for the medals.
Stahl, Dacres top picks in discus
On paper, where no competitions are actually held, Daniel Stahl has a distance and consistency advantage on the field. Fedrick Dacres is also over the 70-metre mark, however, and will be a big threat.
Beyond that, it’s a question of who delivers on the night. Matt Denny, Alin Firfirica and Ehsan Hadadi stood out in qualifying, but you only have to ‘nail’ one throw at the critical moment to be in the hunt.
Men’s 5000m and women’s 800m wide open
Potential winners aplenty here. Men’s 5000m defending champion Muktar Edris is not in the same form as when he rained on Mo Farah’s farewell parade in London, but he is here. There is scarcely a runner in the final you couldn’t see getting among the medals, which should make for a great finish, whichever way the race goes.
Ajee Wilson and Raevyn Rogers have impressed in the women’s 800m rounds, but the final is wide open with Winnie Nanyondo and Halimah Nakaayi showing plenty of spirit in the semis. Could be another nail-bitingly close finish.
Len Johnson for the IAAF