A golden dip! Dafne Schippers wins the 200m title at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
Olympic champion Elaine Thompson arrives in Doha with ambitions to capture a world title that has eluded her since she landed squarely into the 200m world elite in 2015.
In what turned out to be an epic showdown at the World Championships in Beijing that year, the Jamaican pushed Dafne Schippers to the line clocking 21.66, finishing a scant 0.03 behind the Dutchwoman. Both have sat third and fifth on the world all-time list, still chasing those performances that have largely set the tone for the pair since.
Thompson has run under 22 seconds four times since, including a 21.78 run, her second fastest ever, that propelled her to the Olympic title in Rio. But lingering bouts with injury over the past two seasons have slowed her progress over the half lap, a funk she seems to have broken from this year with a 22.00 performance at the Jamaican Championships, her fastest in nearly two years. She's been consistently faster over 100m in 2019, but with victories in three of her seven races – and runner-up finishes in three others – you can expect her to be a solid threat for gold in Doha.
With world leader Shaunae Miller-Uibo opting out of the 200m for Doha, Dina Asher-Smith looks to be her primary roadblock. The 23-year-old Briton clocked 21.89 to take the European title last year and, while dividing her attention between the 100m and 200m, appears to be approaching similar speed in the lead-in to the World Championships. The 23-year-old recorded season's bests at each of the IAAF Diamond League finals, clocking 22.08 in Zurich where she finished second and 10.88 in Brussels, where she lifted the Diamond trophy.
With a 22.45 season's best, defending champion Dafne Schippers hasn't been nearly as fast as Thompson and Asher-Smith due in large part to a lingering back injury, but don't discount the two-time gold medallist. In the lead-in to her successful title defence in London, with one exception – a 22.10 win in Lausanne five weeks before – Schippers didn't produce exceptionally quick races. But she rose to the occasion in London where she raced to a convincing 22.05 triumph.
Another former champion to watch is Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who took the dash double in 2013. At 32, the Jamaican is back to near full blast, riding the momentum of one of her finest seasons to the Doha start line. She's clocked 10.73 in the 100m, just 0.03 shy of her career best, and 22.22 over the half lap to finish second behind Thompson at the national championships.
Nigerian veteran Blessing Okagbare could also be a threat. The 30-year-old, who took bronze in the event at the 2013 World Championships, has pieced together a decent season, headed by a notable 22.05 win at the Prefontaine Classic on 30 June.
The US, which has surprisingly only produced two 200m champions – Allyson Felix, who took the title four times, one of those – fields a trio of relative newcomers led by Angie Annelus. The 22-year-old successfully defended her NCAA title with a 22.16 run on 8 June, then returned to action at the national championships where she finished third to earn her first national team appearance. She hasn't competed since, so her form is shrouded in mystery.
Similarly, Dezerea Bryant, who clocked a 22.47 season's best to take the US title, has raced just once since over the distance, a 22.84 run for a distant sixth at the IAAF Diamond League stop in Birmingham.
Brittany Brown, the US runner-up, clocked 22.61 to win the at the Europe-USA match in Minsk on 10 September, just 0.01 shy of her season's best.
Others to keep an eye on include Mujinga Kambundji, who lowered the Swiss record to 22.26 this year, and Marie-Josée Ta Lou, the silver medallist two years ago, who's clocked 22.36.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF