Confusing form lines among many of the chief protagonists make the first women’s track final of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 a difficult event to read.
World and Olympic champion Almaz Ayana underwent double knee surgery in July last year and, after making just one outing so far this year, recently announced that she won't be able to defend her title in Doha.
It seems a tad absurd to talk about Sifan Hassan as a potential gold medallist having only made her 10,000m track debut in May, yet such her outrageous versatility it is far from mission impossible. To illustrate her extraordinary range, the Dutch athlete posted a world record for the mile in July and boasts a European record of 1:05:15 for the half marathon.
Claiming victory in 31:18.12 on her lone 10,000m appearance in Stanford, few would be surprised if the US-based athlete added this title to her growing CV.
The Kenyan team also boasts a special 10,000m rookie of their own in world 5000m champion Hellen Obiri. The 29-year-old world cross-country champion made a winning 10,000m debut in Nairobi before placing second behind Agnes Tirop at the Kenyan Championships in 31:25.38. Such are her credentials, Obiri too is a serious podium threat.
Tirop won 10,000m bronze at the 2017 World Championships and should also be in the mix. Her form is good, as evidenced by her 5000m performance in London in July, where she climbed to sixth on the world all-time list with 14:20.68. Rosemary Wanjiru (31:11.79) completes the Kenyan team.
Ethiopia has named a further four athletes from which they will select three to join Ayana. Letesenbet Gidey sits at the top of the 2019 world list after blasting to 10,000m victory at the Ethiopian Trials in 30:37.89. The world cross-country bronze medallist also clinched victory at her national championships over the 25-lap distance and comes into the event boasting outstanding credentials.
Gidey’s compatriot Netsanet Gudeta and Senbere Teferi shared the Ethiopian half-marathon record of 1:05:45 in Ras El Khaimah earlier this year in an epic duel which the latter edged in a photo-finish and both could challenge over 10,000m in Doha. Gudeta (30:40.85) and Teferi (30:45.14) placed second and third at the Ethiopian Trials.
The best of the rest could be the vastly experienced US champion Molly Huddle. The 35-year-old, who claimed fourth spot over 10,000m at the 2015 World Championships, made her marathon debut in April, recording 2:26:33 in London, and will have benefited from the experience.
Emily Sisson, runner-up to Huddle at the US Championships, registered a slick 30:49.57 in Stanford and will be hoping to upgrade on her ninth-place finish at the previous World Championships.
Great Britain’s European Cup winner Steph Twell (31:08.13) plus her compatriot Eilish McColgan (31:16.76) may also feature. European silver medallist Susan Krumins of the Netherlands, Germany’s European U23 champion Alina Reh and Japan’s Asian silver medallist Hitomi Niiya will all look to have their say.
Steve Landells for the IAAF