Lane markers in Khalifa International Stadium, venue of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)
There’s only one gold medal to be decided – the women’s marathon – but day one of a World Championships sets the scene for what is to come.
The marathon will be contested on the roads around the Corniche, the crescent-shaped stretch of water where the locals traditionally cool down once the sun sets. All road endurance events – marathon and race walks – will be conducted there.
The race just fits into day one, starting at one minute to midnight and finishing in the early hours of day two. Air temperature will still be high, but direct sun will not be a problem.
What day one lacks in medals, it makes up for with the opportunity to see every athlete in some of the stand-out events contest preliminary rounds. It’s a chance to survey the fields and assess the form.
Let’s look at what is on offer.
If you still insist gold is the only thing that glitters, prepare for a late night awaiting the finish of the women’s marathon.
Marathons are notoriously hard to predict. If you want to know the winner, look at the start list. Their name is on it – somewhere!
Bahrain’s Rose Chelimo is the defending champion, Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat a world championships specialist par excellence. Kiplagat’s résumé boasts World Championships gold (2011 and 2013) and silver (2017) medals, wins in London and Boston, and a personal best of 2:19:50.
Another Kenyan, Ruth Chepngetich, has the year’s fastest time of 2:17:08. Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Israel and Ruti Aga of Ethiopia won in Prague and Tokyo, respectively, this year and both have sub-2:20 PBs. Intriguingly, there are three entries from the People’s Republic of Korea.
Who picks up Mo’s mantle?
One of the big questions of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 begins to be answered with the heats of the men’s 5000m, one of three middle and long-distance track events with heats on day one. The women’s 800m and steeplechase the other two.
Doha is the first championship of the post-Farah (track) era. Ethiopia has continued to bring young contenders into this event at an amazing rate – Telahun Haile Bekele, fastest in the world this year, is barely 20, and Selemon Barega, 12:43.02 last year, is still 19. The entry list also includes Norway’s three Ingebrigtsen brothers – Jakob, Filip and Henrik – defending champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, his teammate Hagos Gebrhiwet, Canadian record-holder Mo Ahmed and Australia’s Stewart McSweyn.
Who walks in now that Farah has walked out?
First glimpse of the next 400m hurdles world record-holder?
Kevin Young ran the current world 400m hurdles record of 46.78 at the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992. After more than a quarter-century of no further sub-47-second performances, three men have achieved it in the past 15 months: Norway’s Karsten Warholm, USA’s Rai Benjamin and Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba.
In the ideal sprint conditions expected in Doha, one may have to break the world record to take the gold medal. They will be in separate heats, but we’ll get our first glimpse of their prospects on day one.
There will also be a qualifying round and heats of the men’s 100m to savour.
Five field event qualifying rounds
Those who like to think of the sport as ‘field and track’ will be heartened that qualifying rounds for five field events will be held on day one.
Both men’s horizontal jumps have qualifying, as do both women’s vertical jumps. Defending champion Christian Taylor, Will Claye and Pedro Pablo Pichardo compete in the triple jump, rising star Juan Miguel Echevarria will attract most attention in the long jump.
There will be change in the women’s hammer, with multiple world and Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk not competing.
Len Johnson for the IAAF