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Tuesday, 08 August 2017 20:22

Five things to watch on day five – IAAF World Championships London 2017

Written by IAAF
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1 Men’s 400m  - When Wayde van Niekerk opened his European season with an effortless-looking 43.62 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne, few would have bet against him winning here. But in his next race, Isaac Makwala pushed him all the way in Monaco as Van Niekerk narrowly won, 43.73 to 43.84. The challenge was on; the next chapter will be played out here.

Van Niekerk ran in Monday’s 200m heats and it will be interesting to see whether the extra run has had any lingering impact. Makwala did not run the 200m due to illness, but he could still contest the 400m final

The biggest threat to the big two may come from Steven Gardiner of The Bahamas who looked ominously comfortable in winning his semi in 43.89, fastest of the round. Fred Kerley, the NCAA and US champion, ran 43.70 earlier in the season, but has not looked as impressive since. Still, he is in the final and championship hardened.

Nathon Allen, Demish Gaye and Abdelalah Haroun round out the field in a final which could be one of the highlights of the championships.

2 Men’s pole vault

As we all know, qualifying is a very fallible guide to finals, very fallible. But when your name is Renaud Lavillenie, you have jumped higher than any man ever has, and you have been struggling for form, maybe a comfortable trip through qualifying round is a good sign

Lavillenie sailed through the Sunday night qualifying without a hitch. He likes the stadium where he won his Olympic title and will look to redress a season of – by his lofty standards – ordinary results. He has lost to Sam Kendricks four times and finished no better than fifth at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

Kendricks, by contrast, needed all three attempts to clear 5.60m on Sunday. But his form has been superlative when it has counted. Polish pair Piotr Lisek and 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski and defending champion Shawn Barber are all in medal contention. The precocious Armand Duplantis and Kurtis Marschall represent the next generation.

3 Men’s 3000m steeplechase

Not since 1987 in Rome has a non-Kenyan-born athlete won this event. That could change tonight as Evan Jager goes into the final as fastest in the world this year. Jager ran 8:01.29 in Monaco while the top Kenyan, Conseslus Kipruto, has had injury problems.

Despite the demise of Brimin Kipruto in the heats, Kenya still has three in the final with four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi, using his wildcard to compete here, joining Kipruto and Jairus Birech

Jager is not the only one threatening the natural order in the steeplechase. Morocco’s Soufianne Elbakkali is another who has shown he could challenge for a medal in the final.

While a Kenyan sweep of the medals in the men’s steeplechase often looks likely, this time there may not be a Kenyan winner and, while unlikely, it is not impossible we could see a Kenyan lock-out instead.

4 Women’s javelin

There is just one women’s final on day five, but it should be a beauty.

China’s Lyu Huihui led all the qualifiers with an Asian record of 67.59m. Surprise Olympic champion Sara Kolak struggled, failing to get the automatic qualifying distance, but she is there and leads the world list with 68.43m. Two-time Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova is next with 68.26m and is back to her best form

Defending champion Katharina Molitor cannot be discounted from medal contention, nor, in what can be a flukey event, can Eda Tugsuz, Kelsey-Lee Roberts, Matina Ratej and Tatsiana Khaladovich. Expect something approaching 70 metres to be required to win.

5 Men’s 800m

The 800m has been a bit of an anti-climax thus far, with defending champion David Rudisha unable to compete and world leader Emmanuel Korir and Ferguson Rotich among those to miss out on the final.

Nijel Amos, back in top form, had to slalom his way through the semifinal field off the final bend after being blocked for a run, but he made it. Back in the stadium where his 1:41.73 brought an Olympic silver medal in 2012, he will be feeling good about both his form and his chances

Hardest to beat, on form in the rounds, anyway, may be Canada’s Brandon McBride, who has looked very impressive, as has world U20 champion Kipyegon Bett and Poland's Adam Kszczot. It is a wide-open race.

Not forgetting… preliminaries in three women’s events. The 400m hurdles moves to the semifinal stage, there is shot put qualifying and the first round of the 200m.

Len Johnson for the IAAF

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