Women’s 100 metres
On the short short list of main attractions on the Doha 2014 programme is the eagerly anticipated 100m season’s debut of reigning world and two-time Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce.
There’s not a bigger name in the world of women’s sprinting than that of the 27-year-old Jamaican who dashed to the World Indoor 60m title in Sopot, Poland, in March, just seven months after winning global titles in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m Relay at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
Her primary challenger at the moment looks to be Moscow double dash finalist Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria. Last year the 25-year-old improved the African 100m record to 10.79 to land on the doorstep of the event’s all-time top-10.
Okagbare was pleased with her opener on Saturday, an 11.19 run against a significant headwind in Kingston where she easily emerged the winner. Kerron Stewart, a 100m finalist at the world championships last season and 2008 Olympic 200m silver medallist, who was second in Kingston, will start here too.
Leading the charge for the U.S. is 22-year-old national champion English Gardner with a 10.85 career best to her credit, and Alexandria Anderson, who last year joined the event’s sub-11 club with a 10.91 personal best. Neither however impressed in Kingston, finishing well back.
Meeting record: 10.92, Allyson Felix (USA), 2012
Start Time: 20:09
Women’s 800 metres
The women’s 800 metres will feature the first face-off ever between the two reigning world champions, Kenyan Eunice Sum, last year’s outdoor title winner and Chanelle Price of the US, who ran to the indoor crown two months ago.
Both were considerable upsets. Over the course of the season last year Sum made an improvement of nearly two seconds en route to her unexpected world title where she upset Olympic champion and favorite Mariya Savinova on home soil.
Price meanwhile, a 2007 world youth championships finalist, didn’t even have a national title to her name before toeing the line in Sopot. That mattered little in her gutsy and powerful front-running performance that garnered the gold.
Outdoors, Price has yet to contest a two-lapper while the 25-year-old Sum has won each of her three races.
Others to watch include Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei, a world championship gold, silver and bronze medallist in 2007, 2009 and 2011; Cuban champion Rose Mary Almanza, the early season world leader at 1:59.76; and Czech Lenka Masna, a Moscow and Sopot finalist.
Meeting record: 1:56.94, Pamela Jelimo (KEN), 2012
Start Time: 19:35
Women’s 3000 metres
After producing one of the most memorable indoor campaigns in recent memory, Genzebe Dibaba finally escaped from the long shadow cast by her older sister Tirunesh to land herself on the short shortlist of the sport’s most exciting athletes.
In a span of just five days in February, the 23-year-old Ethiopian shattered two world indoor records, first over 1500m in Karlsruhe, Germany, and then at 3000m in Stockholm. Her 3:55.17 run in the 1500m knocked more than three seconds from the previous mark while her 8:16.60 performance in the Stockholm 3000m smashed the old record by more than seven seconds. It was the fastest performance the world has witnessed since 1993 indoors or outdoors; only three women have ever run faster, all outdoors.
Dibaba then capped her indoor campaign with a world 3000m title in Sopot, Poland. With that sort of momentum, she’ll be extremely difficult to beat.
Kenyans appear poised to provide the strongest challenge, led by Mercy Cherono, the 5000m silver medallist from last year’s World Championships. More recently, Cherono ran the lead leg for a Kenyan quartet that set a 17:05.72 4x1500m relay world record in Nairobi.
Viola Kibiwot, fourth in the 2013 world 5000m final, and Hellen Obiri, the world bronze medallist last year in the 1500m, are also in the field. Dibaba’s compatriot Almaz Ayama, the 2013 world bronze medallist over 5000m, is also on the slate.
Meeting record: 8:35.83, Elvan Abeylegesse, TUR, 2004
Start Time: 20:45
Women’s 400m hurdles
In another quality race, four of the first five finishers from last year’s world championships will toe the line, led by silver and bronze medallists Dalilah Muhammad and Lashinda Demus of the U.S.
Muhammad was the upstart producing a notable break out year that witnessed her transformation from a low 56-second performer into a national champion with a 53.83 career best. The 2007 world youth champion and still just 24, she’s ably staking her claim as the future of the event.
For her part, Demus is certainly the most experienced and heavily decorated in the field. The 2011 world champion, the 31-year-old has also collected silver in London 2012 and at the world championships in 2005 and 2009. Her 52.47 personal best ranks her No. 3 all-time. Demus has been low-key in her two appearances thus far while Muhammad has yet to race her specialty.
Titimets (54.63 PB, 2013) will also be making her first outing as will Child (54.22 PB, 2013), who’s been a regular fixture on Great Britain’s international 4x400m relay squads the past few seasons.
Jamaican Kaliese Spencer, who was fourth at the 2012 Olympic Games and has sub-53 second credentials, has exhibited solid flat 400m speed this season, having taken world indoor silver over the distance.
Meeting record: 54.27, Ionela Tirlea-Manolache (ROM), 1999
Start Time: 19:04
Women’s pole vault
The class of the field is Cuban star Yarisley Silva who will start as favorite exactly two months after winning the world indoor title.
Olympic silver medallist in London and bronze medal winner in Moscow last year, the 26-year-old improved to 4.90m last season, the second best leap of the year. She’ll arrive in Doha as the early season world leader at 4.66m. But organisers have assembled a solid field to give Silva a strong early season test.
Czech record holder JiÅ™ina SvobodovÃ¡ (4.76m, 2013) will return to action after her runner-up finish at the World indoors as she kicks off an outdoor season in which she’ll be defending her European title in Zurich.
Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg (4.82m, 2012) is a familiar name and consistent competitor, particularly in Diamond League competition where she’s won the event’s Diamond race for three consecutive seasons. She’ll be looking to put the disappointment of a seventh place finish in Sopot well behind her.
Moscow finalist Anastasiya Savchenko (4.73m, 2013) of Russia, Australian record holder Alana Boyd (4.76m, 2012), Greek record holder Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou (4.71m, 2012) and American Mary Saxer (4.70, 2013) have all topped 4.70m and could be in the mix. Meanwhile the veteran of the field is Poland’s Anna Rogowska, the 2009 World champion and 2011 European indoor winner, who on her best day is always a threat.
Meeting record: 4.70, Silke Spiegelburg (GER), 2010
Start Time: 18:10
Women’s triple jump
The women’s triple jump features a reunion of four of the top five finishers from last year’s world championships, led by gold medallist Caterine Ibarguen.
The 30-year-old Colombian was the primary force of the event in 2013; she’s shown steady improvement, beginning with world championships bronze in 2011 and following up with Olympic silver in 2012 before her world triumph in Moscow last summer and will arrive in Doha with a 10-meet win streak. Her 14.85m leap in Luzhniki stadium was the second farthest in the world last year.
Her primary opponent is Olha Saladukha of Ukraine, the world’s most consistent jumper over the past half decade. The 2011 World champion, she’s won back-to-back European titles, took bronze in Moscow last year and most recently took world indoor silver. Since 2010 she hasn’t left a major championship without a medal. Like Ibarguen, she has a 14.99m career best.
The field also included Jamaican Kimberly Williams (14.62 PB), Moscow fourth place finisher and world indoor bronze medallist this year, and Cuban Mabel Gay (14.67 PB), bronze medallist at the 2009 world championships and fifth place finisher in 2013.
Meeting record: 14.35m, Tereza Marinova (BUL), 2001
Start Time: 19:30
Women’s Shot Put
With a 46-meet win streak on the line, there is not a woman’s athlete more dominant at the moment than New Zealand’s Valerie Adams. With back-to-back Olympic titles, three global titles indoors and four outdoors, she’ll arrive in the Qatari capital as one of the most decorated as well, and clearly the strongest favourite.
Adams has won the season-long Diamond Race in the event the past three years and has collected 17 victories, the most by a woman in the elite series. In 2013, when she won her fourth straight world title, she produced the six farthest throws in the world and seven of the best nine. This season she’s reached beyond 20 metres in three of her four competitions, including a 20.46m world-leading effort at her national championships in late March just three weeks after collecting her third world indoor title with a 20.67m toss. The meet record of 20.53m meeting record set by Nadezhda Ostapchuk in 2012 is clearly under threat.
Unbeaten since August 2010, the 29-year-old said she enjoys her current role as “the hunted”; with her top-10 throws averaging exactly 21 metres, statistically she’s far ahead of the hunters. In the field, only three — Alena Kopets (19.24m, 2013) and Yuliya Leantsiuk (19.79m, 2008) of Belarus and Tia Brooks (19.22m, 2013) of the U.S. — have thrown beyond 19 metres.
Meeting record: 20.53, Nadezhda Ostapchuk (BLR), 2012
Start Time: 17:35
Women’s Javelin Throw
A trio of high profile global medallists figure prominently here, with Australian Kimberley Mickle presently carrying the best momentum.
The 29-year-old, who won the world youth title back in 2001, lived up to that promise last season when she struck world silver in Moscow. This season she’s already improved the Oceania Area record to 66.83m, the best throw in the world in 2014, and produced a solid 66.12m effort in her season opener.
Germany’s Linda Stahl is no stranger to medal finishes, beginning with her victory at the 2010 European championships where she threw her 66.81m personal best. Two years later she took bronze at the Olympic Games and continental championships before slipping to fourth last year in Moscow. Stahl opened her 2014 campaign with a victory at the European Winter Throws Cup (61.20m), her only test thus far.
South African Sunette Viljoen extended the African record holder to 69.35m in 2012, and remains one of only six women to have thrown beyond 69 meters. She followed up 2011 world championships bronze with a fourth place showing at the London Olympics and a sixth place finish in Moscow last year.
Others to watch include Kara Patterson (66.67m PB) and Martina Ratej (67.16m), the US and Slovenian national record holders respectively, who reached their PBs in 2010.
Meeting record: 68.89, Mariya Abakumova (RUS), 2010
Start Time: 19:10
As of 5 May