It has been Nearly 7 months since the World Championships in Beijing last year but we have another international championships to talk about and sink out teeth into. With all the drug related talk that feels to have gone on for eternity we are back to discussing athletics and most importantly the athletes that perform. These championships (as indoor championships often do) do have some issues especially the scheduling that sees these Championships occur at least a couple of weeks later than usual. With a fairly small gap until the outdoor season begins (the first diamond league event happens at the start of May) and with multiple Championships for Europeans, it has led to some events not having the depth and in some cases numbers that would be hoped for. There are often many of the big names who simply don’t do indoor seasons or who only a handful of competition with their focus solely on outdoor events and with the Olympics in Rio this year it is hardly surprising that many have not really considered Portland, Oregon as a part of their 2016 schedule. There are of course some good quality athletes here and maybe some names for future championships to look out for so. I aim this to be part preview/part predictions of which I will likely be hopelessly wrong!
The reigning World Champions Richard Kilty and Shelley Anne Fraser-Pryce will not defend their titles but there are still some strong fields, especially on the female side. Daphne Schippers has become a global superstar after her very successful transition from multi-eventer to World Champion sprinter. She has run 7.00 seconds this year putting her in the top 10 of all time and is favourite here to win. The home favourites include Barbara Pierre (7.00 this past weekend) and Torie Bowe (7.14), while Dina Asher-Smith (7.11) and British Champion Asha Philip (7.10) could be contenders for medals along with Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast (7.06) and Michelle Lee-Ayhe (7.10) of Trinidad and Tobago. Sadly the new World Junior Record Holder Ewa Soboda (7.07) is not here but perhaps the surprise of the season Tatjana Pinto (whose PB went from 7.18 to 7.07 at the German Championships) could throw everything for a loop as could Elaine Thompson whose one run at Glasgow (7.14) suggests she can go much faster.
On the men’s side could 38 year old Kim Collins win another world title? The man who defines what it is to be evergreen is the 2nd quickest of those here although he had a slight injury issue in his last race in Glasgow. However the biggest name entered is that of the former 100 metre world record holder Asafa Powell who is the best of those here (6.49) but hasn’t run too many 60 metres races previously. He has never been an individual world champion though so this might represent his last and best chance at being that. For the Americans, IAAF World Indoor Tour winner Mike Rodgers, Trayvon Bromell and Marvin Bracy make it quite likely that an American will be on the podium, with James Dasaolu approaching something close to his best form over this distance could be a contender as well as Andy Robertson deservedly competing for the first time for Britain individually at a major Championships and a final place is not beyond him. No Julian Reus here unfortunately after his new national record.
Men’s: 1. Asafa Powell (JAM), 2. Kim Collins (SKN), 3. Mike Rodgers (USA)
Women’s: 1. Daphne Schippers (NED), 2. Barbarra Pierre (USA), 3. Marie-Josee Ta Lou (IVC)
Perhaps not the strongest of fields with many of the big names not competing especially on the men’s side but with a few recognisable names on both male and female sides. An interesting event indoors due to the fact it is two laps rather than one but sadly not one many of the top athletes seems to want to do indoors. America’s usual strength in this event will likely be even stronger here with them having 6 of this year’s top 10 in the men’s event (although none in the top 3) and they have Vernon Norwood and Kyle Clemons here but Lalonde Gordon, the Olympic Bronze medallist as well as indoor specialist Paval Maslak, does add some extra quality to the event. The world leader however is Bralon Trapin (45.20) of Granada who clearly not as well-known as Olympic Champion Kirani James could surprise a few of the bigger names.
It is a similar story on the female side with America dominating this year’s world lists although Quanara Hayes and Ashley Spencer are not the most decorated names they beat Natasha Hastings and Phyllis Francis at the US trials. Perhaps a sign of the lack of superstar names is the fact that the World Indoor Tour winner Lisanne De Witte of The Netherlands is only 24th in this year’s rankings. The biggest name is likely that of Stephanie McPherson who goes for Jamaica although has not yet broken 52 seconds this year. Oluwakemi Adekoya of Bahrain is a name to note in the battle with the Americans and McPherson, she is 3rd in the rankings this year of those entered.
Men: 1st Lalonde Gordon (TTO), 2nd Paval Maslak (CZR), 3rd Vernon Norwood (USA)
Women: 1st Quanara Hayes (USA), 2nd Ashley Spencer (USA) 3rd Stephanie McPherson (JAM)
With only 7 teams entered in the men’s 4x400m relay and just 6 for the women, it looks like it will be another battle between America and Jamaica who have sent relay teams for both men and women (the only other nation to do so is Nigeria). With America’s depth in both events and being a home Championships, I would expect them to win both relays.
Men: 1st USA, 2nd: Jamaica, 3rd: Trinidad and Tobago
Women: 1st USA, 2nd Jamaica, 3rd: Nigeria
There were a couple of different options for distance runners looking for some competition in the early season with these world championships as well as the world half-marathon championships taking place in Cardiff shortly after. For the likes of Mo Farah and Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, the longer distance is what they decided to go for but for many the 3000 metres was the event of choice.
The field for the men’s 3000 metres is still therefore quite strong with Gebremeskel, Idguider, Kejelcha, Choge, Ndiku all serious contenders for medals and who either in the 5000 or the 10000 will be looking to stop Farah come Rio and for one of them they could gain some serious momentum. Tom Farell and Lee Emmanuel go for Britain and if they could make the final that would be a good achievement for them and a good experience as well.
Genzebe Dibaba would appear to be targeting the 5000 metres in Rio due to the schedule preventing a possible 1500/5000 double and so it makes sense for her to go for the 3000 metre title here rather than the shorter 1500 metres. One of her many indoor world records, she is of course the big favourite to win and Ethiopia could well do a one-two with Meserat Defar the second best on paper. It could be tight for the bronze and America’s Shannon Rowbury after her American 1500 metre record last year could be buoyed home from the local crowd. Steph Twell goes for Britain as she continues her impressive comeback after a few bad years of injuries.
Men: 1st: Calub Ndiku (KEN), 2nd: Augustin Choge (KEN), 3rd: Dejen Gebremeskel (ETH)
Women: 1st: Genzebe Dibaba (ETH), 2nd: Meserat Defar (ETH), 3rd: Shannon Rowbury (USA)
The High Jump
With the field limited to just 12 athletes the qualifying standard was quite high (2.33m for the men and 1.97m for the women) and so unsurprisingly not everyone here achieved that very high mark (both are 4cm higher than the Olympic qualifying) and with no Russians on the women’s side, not that many even had the mark from either this year or last year but fortunately the likes of Barshim, Beitia and others the fields are pretty strong. The Italians in particular are quite strong with the majority of their team for these Championships competing in this event with Tamberi and Fassinoti in the men’s competition and Alesia Trost in the women’s. It is nice to see British High Jumping doing well too with Chris Baker having jumped 2.36m (and backed it up with another Olympic qualifying 2.29m clearance) and Robbie Grabarz (2.33m) amongst the participants as well as Isobel Pooley who jumped an outdoor NR of 1.97m last year and jumped an indoor PB of 1.93m this year.
The big breakthrough though for 18 year old Vasti Cunningham (USA) who jumped an iWJR of 1.99m at the weekend may make her an unexpected favourite in front of a home crowd. Probably haven’t heard the last of her. The other female contenders are likely to Licwinko and Palyste of Poland and Lithuania respectively.
Men: 1st: Mutaz Barshim (QAT), 2nd: Gianmacro Tamberi (ITA), 3rd: Marco Fassinoti (ITA)
Women: 1st: Ruth Beitia (SPA), 2nd: Kamila Licwinko (POL), 3rd: Vashti Cunningham (USA)
Men’s triple jump in particular last year garnered the most attention it has in some time with the performances of Pedro Pichardo of Cuba and World and Olympic Champion Christian Taylor with multiple 18m jumps gave Jonathan Edwards’ World Record a bit of a scare! We are not likely to see any jumps threatening that (which would be a world indoor record admittedly!) but it may well be a Chinese athlete who is the one to beat. Bin Dong jumped 17.41 earlier this year which is the WL going into the event and could be considered the favourite although the likes of Omar Craddock of America may be the Chinese biggest threat. There are two French athletes in Compaore and Correa who could threaten the minor medals and 2008 Olympic Champion Nelson Evora is another threat.
Yulimar Rojas of Colombia could fly the flag for her country in the absence of Olympic Champion Caterine Imbarguen and Rojas has the three longest jumps this year indoors with her best being 14.69m. The German Kristin Gierisch was the 8th longest outdoors last year and she could Rojas’ biggest threat.
Men: 1st: Bin Dong (CHA), 2nd: Omar Craddock (USA), 3rd: Benjamin Compaore (FRA)
Women: 1st: Yulimar Rojas (VEN), 2nd: Kristin Gierisch (GER), 3rd: Paraskeví Papahristo (GRE)
When the power couple of multi-events Asthon Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton announced their intention to compete in Portland (not far from where they are based), the hope for a really strong field was there but sadly a combination of injuries and the timing of the event has left some fields which (without being too disrespectful to the entrants) not as strong as they could be. Especially on the female side, the IAAF invites had to go quite far down the list to make up this field, going to outside the top 20 of this year’s Pentathlon lists and to outside the top 30 of last year’s Heptathlon list. With many of the European athletes thinking of Gotzis, the European Championships AND the Olympics, doing this event as well when it is later than usual is just too much. Therefore it does feel like it will be a good Championships for the Eaton’s who both are likely to win although Brianne could face tougher competition from the Ukrainians than any challenger her husband has. It would be a surprise if neither won the gold (barring injury or a dreaded NM somewhere). Morgan Lake goes for Britain where she has one final chance of breaking Karolina Kluft’s official WJR for this event having come very close on two separate occasions.
Men: 1st Ashton Eaton (USA), 2nd Curtis Beach (USA), 3rd Mathias Brugger (GER)
Women: 1st Brianne Theisen-Eaton (CAN), 2nd Anastasiya Mokhnyuk (UKR), 3rd: Kendell Williams (USA)
Might be my longest post ever that! That is it for part 1 but part 2 will be ready to go tomorrow where I will preview the 60 metre hurdles, 800 metres, 1500 metres, pole vault, long jump and shot put events. Until next time!