Track and Field World Championships Primer

On Friday, the IAAF World Championships will take place in Doha, Qatar. Why is it so late? With Qatar's climate, it was thought that putting the World Championships in September/October would help to avoid the hottest time of the year. (Even though the stadium was outfitted with an air cooling and circulation system to bring down the temperature for the athletes and spectators.)

Tokyo, did you see this?

Anyway, I want all of you to watch these awesome athletics events as they air, so I'm going to give you a primer on who to watch! These events are the ones I was able to watch a lot over this season. It doesn't cover everything (hammer throw isn't something I'm familiar with, so I'm not going to try), but it'll give you some names to recognize later!

Men's 100 Meters

2017 Winner: Justin Gatlin

There was some doubt a few weeks ago when Team USA's Christian Coleman did not report his whereabouts properly to USADA and was benched from the Diamond League Final and the World Championships. Since then he has been cleared to compete in Doha, but his training and rep have likely taken a hit, even though he's likely to win. Justin Gatlin is still a challenger though he is nearing the end of his career. (He has said that Tokyo 2020 will be his last competition.)

My Pick: Christian Coleman

Women's 100 Meters

2017 Winner: Tori Bowie

Jamaica has still retained its dominance in the women's sprint even though the men's side has faltered. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson have shown some incredible speed this season. Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast and Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain both had strong seasons in 2018 but haven't been able to keep up with the Jamaicans this season.

My pick: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Men's High Jump

2017 Winner: Mutaz Essa Barshim

There are so many in the field here - quite a change from the women's side. They're all tall, they're all lanky, and their personal bests are higher than they are! Some key names are Syria's Majd Eddin Ghazal, Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko, and Qatar's own Mutaz Essa Barshim, though injuries have plagued Barshim over the past year.

My pick: Majd Eddin Ghazal

Men's 400 Meters

2017 Winner: Wayde van Niekerk

Team USA have several men in the top of the rankings, including Fred Kerley, and Michael Norman. The Bahamian Steven Gardiner has had injuries to deal with but has had some success this summer.

My pick: Michael Norman

Women's Long Jump

2017 Winner: Brittney Reese

The key is 7 meters. If a woman has jumped close to that, they are in the running. Germany's Malika Mihambo has been the top of the class so far this season, challenged closely by Ukraine's Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk. Colombia's popular triple jumper Catarine Ibarguen has tried to extend her reign to both dirt pit events. Brittney Reese of Team USA is trying to regain her gold medal form and is getting very close.

My pick: Malika Mihambo

Men's 400 Meter Hurdles

2017 Winner: Karsten Warholm

Qatar has another high profile athlete in hurdler Abderrahman Samba. Team USA's Rai Benjamin hopes to challenge him and has had a stronger season so far. And while Europeans aren't widely known for sprints, Norway's Karsten Warholm took several events this season and is coming into Doha on a high - he won the world championship two years ago.

My pick: Rai Benjamin

Women's 100 Meter Hurdles

2017 Winner: Sally Pearson

Kendra Harrison and Sherika Nelvis of Team USA have been up and down, but Jamaica's Danielle Williams and Janeek Brown have also been strong. Sprint hurdles are always a crapshoot because the hurdle can always come up and bite you, but these ladies have shown their strength by always being in the middle of it.

My pick: Danielle Williams

Women's 800 Meters

2017 Winner: Caster Semenya

With the IAAF's new testosterone policy, it rules out some of the strongest runners in this event. Kenya's Margaret Nyairera Wambui, Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba, and South Africa's Caster Semenya will likely not be competing. Honestly, the field is wide open, with Team USA's Ajee Wilson probably being the front runner.

My pick: Ajee Wilson

Women's 1500 Meters

2017 Winner: Faith Kipyegon

This is the first on the list that prominently features Ethiopians - like Gudaf Tsegay - but it's actually a Dutch runner that is probably riding the highest wave. Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba had to withdraw due to injury, which gives the Netherlands' Sifan Hassan - the new world record holder as of this summer - an increased chance to win. But don't count out Great Britain's Laura Muir and Germany's Konstanze Klosterhalfen.

My pick: Sifan Hassan

Men's 200 Meters

2017 Winner: Ramil Guliyev

I hate the phrase, "I liked it before it was cool," but I liked Team USA's Noah Lyles before NBC overpromoted him. He has a soft start, but his finish is one of the best I've ever seen. Reigning world champion Ramil Guliyev from Turkey is likely his closest competitor, along with Christian Coleman - coming up from 100 meters - and Michael Norman - coming down from 400 meters. But Canada's Andre de Grasse may upset the entire basket if he can have a strong start.

My pick: Noah Lyles

Men's Javelin

2017 Winner: Johannes Vetter

This field event had been dominated by Germans for a long time, but Estonia's Magnus Kirt had a strong season and helped to overcome that dynasty along with Chinese Taipei's Cheng Chao-Tsun. But Germany still has quite a few competitors, including Andreas Hofman, Johannes Vetter, and Thomas Rhöler.

My pick: Magnus Kirt

Women's 400 Meter Hurdles

2017 Winner: Kori Carter

The world record was broken this year by Team USA's Dalilah Muhammad, but her teammate Sydney McLaughlin actually beat her in the Diamond League final a few weeks ago. Shamier Little won the USATF championship last season. Kori Carter and Ashley Spencer also had good seasons. If someone won this title that wasn't from the United States, I'd be very surprised.

My pick: Dalilah Muhammad

Men's 110 Meter Hurdles

2017 Winner: Omar McLeod

Omar McLeod of Jamaica hasn't had as much of a dominating season as he did in 2018 because of injury and off-the-field matters, but he has done enough to prepare him for Doha. Russia's Sergey Shubenkov was cleared by the IAAF to compete in the World Championships under a neutral flag even though they have still banned the country of Russia as a whole. Spain's Orlando Ortega has also been strong this season.

My pick: Omar McLeod

Women's 3000 Meter Steeplechase

2017 Winner: Emma Coburn

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech has run under nine minutes before and paced herself over the season to get ready for Doha. Her countrywoman Norah Jeruto frequently challenges her. Team USA has a strong competitor in Emma Coburn, showing evidence that Team USA's distance running program has made strides in competing with the African countries.

My pick: Norah Jeruto

Women's 200 Meters

2017 Winner: Dafne Schippers

Nigeria isn't usually known for track and field, but Blessing Okabare wants to make everyone remember her. Dina Asher-Smith had stronger results in the 200 meters this year than the 100 meters and hopes to keep that speed going. Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers has long been known for her 200 meter sprint speed. But if Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo does the 200/400 meter double, then I doubt anyone can beat her.

My pick: Shaunae Miller-Uibo

Men's 3000 Meter Steeplechase

2017 Winner: Conseslus Kipruto

Morocco's biggest hope in the World Championships is their tall, gangly steeplechaser Soufiane El Bakkali who mostly won this season (and then had a disastrous competition in Morocco that I'm sure he wants everyone to forget.) Team USA has Hilary Bor to root for, and Kenya is pulling for Benjamin Kigen and Abraham Kibiwot. Ethiopia's Genet Wale is also coming off a good season.

My pick: Soufiane El Bakkali

Women's Discus

2017 Winner: Sandra Percović

Two women from Cuba hope to dethrone Croatia's Sandra Perković, who has looked very shaky in 2019 and has only recently has started to regain her form: Denia Caballero and Yaíme Pérez. I'm sure one of these two Cubans will be taking the title this year.

My pick: Denia Caballero

Men's 800 Meters

2017 Winner: Pierre-Ambroise Bosse

Nigel Amos is from Botswana and hopes to take the title. Donavan Brazier is from the USA and has had a great second half of the season. Emmanuel Korir and the Cheruiyot duo of Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich and Timothy Cheruiyot are from Kenya and always seem to be in the top half of the standings at every race they do.

My pick: Donavan Brazier

Men's Shot Put

2017 Winner: Tomas Walsh

The shot put competition has been insane this season, with strong showings from Brazil's Darlan Romani, New Zealand's Tomas Walsh, and Team USA's Darrell Hill, Joe Kovacs, and Ryan Crouser. They've all gotten over 22 meters this season. Basically they all put the shot like they're throwing a baseball. I cannot wait for this event.

My pick: Tomas Walsh

Women's Pole Vault

2017 Winner: Katerina Stefanidi

Can anyone beat Greece's Katerina Stefanidi? Probably not, but Team USA's Katie Nageotte and Sandi Morris will certainly try! Canada has a strong competitor in Alysha Newman, as does Sweden in Angelica Bengtsson. Another Russian competing as a neutral is Anzhelika Sidorova, who had a good season in 2019.

My pick: Katerina Stefanidi

Men's Discus

2017 Winner: Andrius Gudžius

Jamaica isn't normally known for its field athletes, but Frederik Dacres might change that. Sweden has Daniel Ståhl, a mighty personality, and Austria has Lukas Weisshaidinger, who had the world lead at one point this season.

My pick: Daniel Ståhl

Men's Pole Vault

2017 Winner: Sam Kendricks

Sam Kendricks of Team USA has had another strong season, even going over six meters. Another man to reach that coveted six meter mark was Poland's Piotr Lisek, who not only pole vaults, but does backflips after he vaults! Sweden's Mondo Duplantis broke the youth world record last season and hopes to break a few more records in the senior level.

My pick: Piotr Lisek

Men's Long Jump

2017 Winner: Luvo Manyonga

One of the Diamond League facilities had to extend its long jump pit because Cuba's Juan Miguel Echevarría almost jumped out of it last season! He has the world lead this season, as well. Challenging him is Team USA's Jeff Henderson and South Africa's Luvo Manyonga and Ruswahl Samaai.

My pick: Juan Miguel Echevarría

Women's Javelin

2017 Winner: Barbora Špotáková

Germany's Christin Hussong and Latvia's Līna Mūze are the threats from Europe, but China's Lyu Huihui had a great season and promises to bring all that energy into Doha next week. Team USA puts its hope in Kara Winger, while the Czech Republic hopes its aging star Barbora Špotáková can return to her winning ways.

My pick: Lyu Huihui

Women's Shot Put

2017 Winner: Lijiao Gong

There really is only one name that you need to know: China's Lijiao Gong. She had a shaky start to the season, but has been dominant for so many years. The biggest surprise has been Team USA's Chase Ealey, who beat Gong in Shanghai in May and won the USA Track and Field championship in July.

My pick: Lijiao Gong

Women's 400 Meters

2017 Winner: Phyllis Francis

Bahrain's Salwa Eid Naser started 2019 strong, but once the Bahamas' Shaunae Miller-Uibo entered the fray, there wasn't any competition anymore. Miller-Uibo has definitely improved over the years since she stumbled to gold in the 2016 Olympics.

My pick: Shaunae Miller-Uibo

Men's 1500 Meters

2017 Winner: Elijah Manangoi

Another Kenyan onslaught of Elijah Motonei Manangoi, Timothy Cheruiyot, and Jackson Kivuva leads the pack. If anyone wants to upset the Kenyans, it might be in the form of an Ingebrigtsen - brothers Jakob, Filip, and Henrik both compete at this distance.

My pick: Timothy Cheruiyot

Men's 5000 Meters

2017 Winner: Muktar Edris

This race features an onslaught of Ethiopians, including Talahun Haile Bekele, Selemon Barega  and Yomif Kejelcha. However, Bahrain's Birhanu Balew wants to challenge this crew. The Ingebrigstens are also known to compete in the 5K.

My pick: Selemon Barega

Women's 5000 Meters

2017 Winner: Hellen Obiri

Kenyan Hellen Obiri's name came up often this season, although she didn't win every single time. Her compatriot Agnes Jebet Tirop also had a strong season, but Konstanze Klosterhalfen and Sifan Hassan also had great seasons in this longer distance. (I'm surprised that there are so many athletes that do the 1500/5000 double instead of the 5000/10,000 double!)

My pick: Sifan Hassan

Women's Triple Jump

2017 Winner: Yulimar Rojas

Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas had to sit out most of last season, causing Colombia's Caterine Ibargüen to seize control of the triple jump heirarchy. But Rojas has emerged strongly in just the last three months, showing that this is going to be an amazing competition between these two South Americans.

My pick: Caterine Ibargüen

Men's Triple Jump

2017 Winner: Christian Taylor

If there was a non-shot-put event I was most excited for, it's this one. Between Team USA's Christian Taylor, Will Claye, and Omar Craddock, there really isn't room for anyone else!

My pick: Will Claye (upset!)

Women's High Jump

2017 Winner: Mariya Lasitskene

Russia's Mariya Lasitskene was unbeatable for much of the past two seasons, though Ukraine's Yuliya Levchenko has slowly inched her way up to competition. But really, it's Lasitskene's to lose.

My pick: Mariya Lasitskene



Check out NBC and NBC Sports' coverage of the IAAF World Championships, starting this coming weekend and lasting all next week!

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I'm Claire Nat and you're reading Light The CauldronFollow me on Twitter and Facebook @CauldronLight and read my past Olympic articles! Look back on previous posts to hear about my trips to the US Curling National Championships, the US Figure Skating Championships, and my very successful quest to acquire tickets for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics!








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