IAAF World Cham­pi­onships

Inside Sport - - 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW - – Jeff Cen­ten­era

1 Ath­let­ics’ big­gest event out­side of the Olympics re­vis­its the site of the Lon­don 2012 Games, re­turn­ing the sta­dium to its orig­i­nal pur­pose from Au­gust 4-13, be­fore West Ham gets its sea­son go­ing. It’s fi­tting that these world cham­pi­onships head to Lon­don, as it will serve as a farewell party for a pair of stars of 2012 and all-time lu­mi­nar­ies of the track – Usain Bolt and Mo Farah will bow out of top-level com­pe­ti­tion at these worlds.

2 Bolt, who turns 31 in late Au­gust, has talked re­tire­ment af­ter the 2017 worlds since sweep­ing the sprint tre­ble again in Rio (and then his 2008 re­lay gold was stripped be­cause of a team-mate’s dop­ing vi­o­la­tion). His fi­nal race in his na­tive Ja­maica be­came a 30,000-strong love­fest, where Bolt won but didn’t break ten sec­onds. He’ll race the 100m and re­lay, but not the 200m, in Lon­don. And even with a fast bunch of young­sters eager for their last crack at Bolt, who would dare doubt the quin­tes­sen­tial per­former com­ing through in a big meet?

3 Farah should find a friendly crowd at the worlds, free from the murk­i­ness sur­round­ing his links to Al­berto Salazar and the Nike Ore­gon Project. The newly dubbed Sir Mo (be­low) has won the 5km-10km dou­ble at the last two cham­pi­onships, and the 5000m in 2011 as well. Farah isn’t quite re­tir­ing, as he’ll move to road racing af­ter the worlds – and he’s been called out by Ethiopia’s Ke­nenisa Bekele to prove him­self in mak­ing the tran­si­tion from the track to the re­ally long-dis­tance runs.

4 With the le­gends ex­it­ing, it’s a mo­ment for new stars to make their claim. And the event to find them could well be the 200m. With Bolt’s ab­sence, it could be a show­case for South Africa’s Olympic 400m champ, Wayde Van Niek­erk, who just broke the South African record in the 200m, or Cana­dian sprint king-in-wait­ing An­dre de Grasse. The race around the bend is hot on the women’s side, too: Elaine Thomp­son, Dafne Schip­pers and a host of Amer­i­cans go at it again.

5 With talk swirling that the IAAF is about to wipe clear the record books and only recog­nise those set af­ter 2005, any new record set at these worlds which knocks off any long-stand­ing mark will bring the de­bate into fo­cus. A cou­ple of pos­si­bles: Qatari high jumper Mu­taz Essa Barshim, who broke a meet record in Oslo set by Javier Sotomayor 28 years ago, and seems bound for the leg­endary Cuban’s high (par­don pun) of 2.45m; Amer­i­can Chris­tian Taylor, who is clos­ing in on Bri­ton Jonathan Ed­wards’ 1995 triple jump mark.

6 Re­mem­ber Sally Pear­son? Well, the 2012 Olympic gold-medal­list has cleared the metaphor­i­cal hur­dles to re­turn to the lit­eral ones, over­com­ing a host of in­juries that have dogged her over the last few years. At the na­tional cham­pi­onships in April, she posted the year’s fastest (al­beit wind-as­sisted) time in the 100m hur­dles, and her fastest in four years. It was vin­di­ca­tion for Pear­son, who started coach­ing her­self late last year, and she will again lead the Aus­tralian team to Lon­don.

7 Also on the Aus­tralian team bound for the worlds: dis­cus world champ Dani Stevens (for­merly Sa­muels), 2015 world sil­ver­medal­list Fabrice Lapierre, Rio 200m al­most-fi­nal­ist Ella Nel­son, and walk­ers Jared Tal­lent and Dane Bird-Smith. Tal­lent is another one en­ti­tled to good karma in Lon­don – he has a gold medal from the 2012 Games, but he of course did not stand atop the podium af­ter the 50km walk.

8 One na­tion you won’t see at the worlds – Rus­sia, still banned for its state-spon­sored dop­ing pro­gram. The con­tin­ued sus­pen­sion raised the idea of Rus­sian ath­letes com­pet­ing as neu­trals, pro­vided they meet cer­tain cri­te­ria. One re­course no longer avail­able to them is to change na­tion­al­i­ties – the IAAF ended that last Fe­bru­ary af­ter see­ing one too many African run­ners pop­ping up un­der other flags.

9 One event you won’t see – the mixed re­lay. Good enough for the Olympics, though, which just added the boys-and-girls to­gether 4x400m for Tokyo 2020, even while cut­ting 105 spots from the ath­let­ics pro­gram. The mixed re­lay was con­tested at the World Re­lays in April in the Ba­hamas. And be­fore you lament this ad­di­tion to the Olympics, bear in mind that Aus­tralia fin­ished fi“fth. And we don’t com­plain about the chance for more medals, no?

10 Okay, we will com­plain about some medals – coaches medals, which are be­ing handed out by the IAAF for the first time in Lon­don. Coaches of medal-win­ning ath­letes will re­ceive an equiv­a­lent; so much for the men­tors re­main­ing humbly in the back­ground. Two ques­tions: if Pear­son wins, does she get two medals? And what’s the pro­to­col for when an ath­lete gets stripped of a medal for a dop­ing of­fence that the coach “didn’t know” about?

Sally Pear­son posted the year’s fasted 100m hur­dles run at the Aussie cham­pi­onships in April. Usain Bolt will bid farewell to elite ath­let­ics at the Lon­don worlds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.