The Beijing World Championships will entertain millions on television and streaming video and thousands in the stands over nine great days of athletics.
Alex Mills reminded me today that there is more to this meet than just the men’s 100 meters. So, here are Alex Mill’s five events outside of the 100 meters to watch.
Rightly or wrongly, the men’s 100m will once again steal the majority of the newspaper columns, web links, tweets and whatever other media forms the IAAF world championships are covered on.
With nine days of non-stop action it would be a hell of a shame if that was the only event to look forward to, especially given that the final takes place on day two! Luckily though, that is far from being the case.
In fact, in terms of depth, drama and overall quality there are a number of disciplines with outcomes way exciting and unpredictable than the 100m.
Here are my five events to watch outside of the men’s 100m:
Last month Genzebe Dibaba broke the internet with her sensational 1500m world record in Monaco, now she’s in China looking to finally add some outdoor silverware to her incredible list of personal bests.
Her winning time of 3:50.07 not only took her to the top of the world all-time lists, but it saw her beat closest rival Siffan Hassan by almost six seconds on the evening.
Should she go out at a similar pace in Tuesday’s final then she will leave her rivals for toast.
If not, and I suspect she won’t, especially given that she has the 5,000m two days later, then there are plenty of athletes that could take her in a tactical race.
Leading the way is Sifan Hassan, who recently ran 3:56.30 in a men’s race to add to her PB in Monaco. Just behind her stand two of America’s biggest distance stars, 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson and 2009 bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury, both of whom have shown their ability to succeed in fast and tactical races this season.
There are many more contenders too! Not least the three other athletes to have broken the four minute barrier in 2015; Great Britain’s Laura Muir, Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia and Maureen Koster of the Netherlands.
Aside from those seven athletes, challenges could also come from reigning champion Abeba Aregawi, and Kenyan duo Mercy Cherono and Faith Kipyegon.
Men’s triple jump
If last year was the year of the high jump then 2015 has well and truly been about the reinvigoration of the men’s triple jump.
Arguably no event has grown more in the space of 12 months, and with both Olympic champion Christian Taylor of the USA and Cuba’s 2013 world silver medallist Pedro Pablo Piccardo in fabulous form, this potentially epic battle should bring even more attention to the discipline.
So far this season Taylor leads the head-to-head between the pair 2-1 but that is only a small indication of the they have battled it out on the Diamond League circuit. First in Doha, Pichardo leapt out to the furthest distance in 19 years to win the meet by two centimetres in 18.06m, from Taylor’s 18.04m. It was the first time either athlete had ever cleared the 18m barrier and the first competition where two jumpers have done so.
Two weeks later the Cuban improved his lifetime best to 18.08m whilst competing in Habana.
Then Taylor equalled his rival’s performance from the opening Diamond League meet as he too leapt out to 18.06m in the final round of competition in Lausanne, becoming the first athlete to clear 18 metres twice in one competition in the process having already jumped 18.02m in round 5. On this occasion his winning margin was 7cm, with the Cuban narrowly missing out on breaking the barrier once more with 17.99m.
The margin was reduced back to 2cm in Monaco as Taylor took victory with a meeting record 17.75m.
On such evidence it may take another lifetime best performance to take gold here.
Though is seems almost certain that they will finish in the top-two positions, the race for bronze is wide open, with the three Americans, who are separated by just seven centimetres, based on SB’s looking best set to challenge. They are Omar Craddock, Marquis Dendy and two-time world and Olympic medallist Will Claye.
At the start of the year it looked as though Nijel Amos was odds on to win his first ever world title here in Beijing, yet with as many defeats as he has victories so far this season, he is far from assured from picking up the title.
Though he has continued his dominance over world record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha, the Botswana athlete has lost out to reigning world champion Mohammed Aman on two occasions, and also lost to the unheralded Amel Tuka of Boznia and Herzegovina in Monaco.
Commonwealth champion is however a big event performer, as he has shown with his performances at the London 2012 Olympics and at Glasgow 2014.
As for Rudisha, he is not currently the athlete he was when he set the WR three years ago, nevertheless he remains a threat, especially if he has been able to sort of his finishing kick as he claims he has done.
Watch out too for the fast finishing Adam Kszczot and 2013 medallist Ayanleh Souleiman.
When Brianne Thiesen-Eaton steps on the start line for the 100 metre hurdles at the Bird’s Nest Stadium on Saturday morning, as she takes on the opening event of women’s heptathlon challenge, she’ll know just how good an opportunity she has to claim a first global title.
After silver at both the 2013 world outdoors and 2014 world indoors, the Canadian is the clear favourite for gold in Beijing having produced an epic total of 6, 808 points at the Hypo Meeting in Gotzis this May, where she beat closest rival Carolin SchÃ¤fer by 261 points.
Her biggest challenge should come from two of British athletics’ biggest stars who are searching for medals due to very different motives.
Making her return to major competition after a three year absence caused by injuries and child birth, Jessica Ennis-Hill is aiming for a medal in China as she continues to rebuild towards the region of her Olympic title at Rio 2016 and having made big strides in her performances since finishing an impressive 4th in Gotzis, she is strong enough to at least win bronze.
Both athletes face a big battle with compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson, though, who is looking to claim her first senior outdoor medal, despite suffering with knee injuries since breaking the British pentathlon record when winning gold at this year’s European championships. She was fifth two years ago, but is much improved since then.
Also in the mix for at least a bronze will be world indoor champion Nadine Broersen and Latvian Laura Ikauniece-Admidina, though with eleven athletes having scored 6,400 points or more this year, in theory any of them could end up on the podium.
The world championship action kicks-off tomorrow morning and what a way to start it, with the men’s marathon, as we see the world record holder take on the man who’s time he bettered at the Berlin marathon last September.
So how fast can they go in Beijing?
Though neither Dennis Kimetto nor Wilson Kipsang have a lot of major championship race experience, they are undoubtably the most fancied athletes in the field. Especially in the absence of Eliud Kipchoge who beat both at this year’s London marathon.
London is the only time they have raced over the distance, with Kipsang winning that battle and he is perhaps the marginal favourite to win in China.
Between them, the pair have won six major marathons and so if they can take the race out at anywhere near the 2:03/4 pace they are used to running in those races, then the majority of their rivals will struggle. Nevertheless Ethiopian rivals Lelisa Desisa and Berhanu Lemi and compatriot Mark Korir, winner of this year’s Paris marathon still offer a strong threat.
The trump card, especially if the race is taken out at a slower pace, will be world and Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, a man who’s style is perfect for such races.