Bolt vs Gay (and Bai­ley)

Ex­pect fire­works in the World Champs 100m show­down

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

BERLIN: All eyes will be on the heats for the men’s 100m when the World Ath­let­ics Cham­pi­onships gets un­der way here to­day.

There are three fi­nals to­day, with the weather fore­cast to be a sunny 30C: the men’s 20km walk in the morn­ing ses­sion, with the men’s shot-put and women’s 10,000m in the evening ses­sion.

There are also heats for the women in the 3000m steeple­chase, triple jump and 400m, along with pole vault qual­i­fi­ca­tion and the first four dis­ci­plines of the hep­tathlon – the 100m hur­dles, high jump, shot put and 200m.

Be­side the 100m, male ath­letes will be con­test­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion in the ham­mer throw, and heats in the 1,500m and 400m hur­dles.

But it will be in the quar­ter­fi­nals later in the day when in­ter­est will peak, when the run-in to the ex­pected fi­nal duel be­tween Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay, triple Olympic and triple world sprint cham­pi­ons re­spec­tively, fi­nally kicks off.

Rarely has there been a more ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated race-off be­tween two sprint­ers who are the world’s cur­rent leaders over the blue riband event, the fi­nal of which is run on Sun­day night.

There are four other ath­letes with sub-10sec cre­den­tials this sea­son, all with good chances for a podium fin­ish.

Daniel Bai­ley of An­tigua has been the sea­son’s break­out per­former, clock­ing 9.91 in rainy and cold con­di­tions at the Paris Golden League meet be­hind Bolt.

For mer world record holder Asafa Pow­ell, who took bronze in Osaka, has been strug­gling with lin­ger­ing in­juries, while Chu­randy Martina of the Dutch An­tilles, fourth in Bei­jing, has a sea­son’s best of 9.97.

Un­for­tu­nately for the Ethiopian team, de­fend­ing world and Olympic cham­pion Tirunesh Dibaba has been ruled out of the women’s 10,000m. But all is not lost as the Ethiopi­ans have dom­i­nated the event for the past decade at the worlds, and there’s lit­tle to in­di­cate that their streak will not con­tinue in Berlin given the strength of the re­main­ing three run­ners.

Dibaba’s long-time ri­val, Me­seret De­far, the reign­ing world 5000m cham­pion, will have her first test over the dis­tance in a ma­jor cham­pi­onship with her eye also on a dou­ble, al­though com­pa­triot Me­s­e­lech Melkamu might have some­thing to say about that.

In the men’s shot-put, the US team boast a pow­er­ful quar­tet as they seek to se­cure this ti­tle for a sixth time in the last seven edi­tions.

Olympic cham­pion To­masz Ma­jew­ski could be the man to stop them, the 27-year-old Pole hav­ing shot to the top of the world lists with a new na­tional record of 21.95m in Stock­holm, where he beat many of those he is likely to face in Berlin.

Reign­ing world cham­pion Reese Hoffa leads the US as­sault as he bids to be­come the third man to mount a suc­cess­ful de­fence of this ti­tle. His sea­son’s best mark of 21.89m was achieved back in Eu­gene in June and he has not won a com­pe­ti­tion since.

US cham­pion and Olympic sil­ver medal­list Chris­tian Cantwell is also ex­pected to pose a se­ri­ous gold medal chal­lenge.

The 20km walk sees reign­ing Olympic cham­pion Va­leriy Borchin of Rus­sia as firm favourite in the Ger­man cap­i­tal.

Borchin has the world lead­ing 1:17:38 mark from Fe­bru­ary and is un­beaten in his three races this sea­son.

Olympic bronze medal­list Jared Tal­lent of Aus­tralia and fourth place fin­isher Wang Hao of China are the best picks to chal­lenge the Rus­sian. – Sapa-AFP

GALLO IM­AGES

FULL SPEED: Daniel Bai­ley, Usain Bolt and Yo­han Blake burn up the track in the Lon­don Grand Prix last month

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