The World Athletics Championships begin tomorrow and with the BBC showing live coverage of one of the most prestigious events on the calendar, there are a whole host of stories to watch out for on the track. We’ve whittled it down to five things you should keep your eye on over the next ten days.
USA ready to party
We may have been forced to wait an extra year, but for the first time in the competition’s 39-year history, it will be hosted in the United States. We’ve had 17 different hosts so far but finally, the country that arguably loves athletics more than any other will get the chance to host in Eugene, Oregon.
Hopefully, the 30,000 capacity stadium will be packed to the rafters as the US gets to embrace a sport they have been so successful in. It’s worth keeping an eye out for the attendance, atmosphere and the general vibe around the championships. We are hoping it will be a resounding success.
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Ferdinand Omanyala’s race against time
Africa’s fastest man is facing a race of his own to even make it to the start line of the World Championships, due to an issue with his visa to enter the United States. He will leave Kenya at 6pm today, and is set to land in the USA just three hours before his heat begins on day one.
If the flight lands on time, he will have to get through US customs, travel to the arena, get his correct accreditation to compete and then complete a full warm-up to make sure he is ready to race. It’s a dramatic tale before the race has even begun, but Omanyala is unfazed.
"If I make it to the starting line, there will be fireworks. I thrive on setbacks."
Jamaica women target 1-2-3
It just wouldn’t be a World Champs without Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. The 35-year-old ‘pocket rocket’ has defied Father Time with her longevity and is targeting her tenth gold medal at this event.
To give her achievements some context, when Usain Bolt won gold and broke the men’s 100m world record in 2009, Fraser-Pryce won gold in the women’s 100m. Bolt retired in 2017 - five years on, his compatriot is still going strong and back for more.
She’s joined by fellow Jamaicans Elaine Thompson-Herah and Shericka Jackson as they make up a trio that could sweep the medals in Eugene. They secured a 1-2-3 at the Tokyo Olympics in the 100m and could do exactly the same here, but the winner is far from certain.
It will be well worth a watch, just to see Fraser-Pryce run again.
Bright British hopes
The Brits head Stateside. Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson are both hoping to defend their titles and put injury troubles behind them. KJT has a new coach and a new outlook so her performance level will be worth keeping an eye on while Asher-Smith is Britain’s most exciting sprinter.
But there’s also a bubbling level of intrigue around 20-year-old Max Burgin. He was just ten-years-old when David Rudisha broke the 800m world record at London 2012, a time nobody has got within a second of since, but it was enough to inspire him.
Over a year ago, injuries stopped his Tokyo hopes, but now he is back and hopeful to make his big impression at the World Championships. Don’t rule him out of doing something special.
Karsten Warholm returns
The 400m hurdles world record holder and one of the standout names in athletics hasn’t managed to complete a race this season. After pulling his hamstring in a Diamond League event in Morocco, he has been attempting to get fit, with these championships the big target.
By all accounts, he looks to have succeeded, with the heats on Saturday the first time we will get to see the Norwegian in action. Twelve months ago, he put in arguably the display of the Tokyo Olympics as he broke his own world record by almost a second in the 400m hurdles final. He might not go close to that 45.94 time here, but it will be a delight to see him back on track.
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