The marquee men’s track event of the 2019 season will witness three of the world’s four quickest men in history line up for what could prove the race of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.
Leading the trio of gifted athletes is defending champion Karsten Warholm, who is aiming to join an exclusive club, containing Ed Moses, Felix Sanchez and Kerron Clement, as back-to-back world champions in this event.
The dynamic Norwegian has so far enjoyed a perfect year, winning the European indoor 400m title in March before racking up a 100% winning streak in the 400m hurdles this year, which has included five victories at IAAF Diamond League meetings.
The 23-year-old’s most impressive performance came at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels when he blasted to a European record of 46.92 to climb to second on the world all-time list behind Kevin Young.
Finishing just 0.06 adrift of Warholm in Paris - to himself elevate himself to joint-third on the world all-time list - is US sensation Rai Benjamin.
Aged just 22, Benjamin made a huge breakthrough when running 47.02 to take the NCAA title in 2018 and he has continued to impress this season. Besides his stunning 46.98 time in Brussels, he also claimed the US title and Diamond League wins in Stanford and Rome.
The third member of the sub-47-second gang in Doha is home favourite Abderrahman Samba. The Qatari athlete dominated the 2018 campaign, recording a spectacular best time of 46.98 to raise hopes Samba could become world champion in front of his home fans in Doha.
However, injury has restricted his 400m hurdles outings to just the Asian Championships and Shanghai Diamond League – albeit the latter won in a blistering 47.27. His current form is unknown and given the quality he faces in Warholm and Benjamin, he faces a formidable challenge to strike gold in the Khalifa International Stadium.
There is an ocean of time between the lead three athletes in the world and the rest but few would discount Yasmani Copello from a podium spot. The Turkish athlete scooped world silver in 2017, 2016 Olympic bronze and snared a European silver medal last year.
Another with a strong pedigree is Commonwealth champion and two-time Diamond League title holder Kyron McMaster. The British Virgin Islands athlete has a season’s best of 48.33 and can also contend.
The US challenge is garnished by the presence of TJ Holmes, the 2017 World Championships fifth-place finisher, who finished second behind Benjamin at the US Championships. Amere Lattin, the 2016 world U20 110m hurdles silver medallist, completes the US men’s 400m hurdles team, boasting a season’s best of 48.66.
Alison Dos Santos of Brazil had enjoyed a breakout season, winning the Pan American and World University Games titles. The World Championships represents a big step up in class for the teenager but the 48.45 performer will be hunting a place in the final. His compatriot Marcio Teles set a season’s best of 48.60 to take the Brazilian title and could also feature.
Other names competing include France’s European Team Championships runner-up Ludvy Vaillant, who made a big breakthrough this year to run 48.30, Poland’s 2015 World Championships finalist Patryk Dobek, and 2016 Olympic finalist Rasmus Magi of Estonia.
Steve Landells for the IAAF