Archive for August, 2011


As we move into the second half of the World Championships from tomorrow morning, in fact late night in Europe, let’s take a look back at some of the most exciting moments of the first four days.

Carmelita Jeter (USA) wins the women’s 100m from Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM) and Kelly-Ann Baptiste (TRI)

Amantle Montsho (BOT) narrowly holds off a fast-finishing Allyson Felix (USA) in the women’s 400m

The controversial 110m hurdles final that saw Dayron Robles (CUB) eventually disqualified after crossing the line first, with Jason Richardson (USA) the new World champion and Andy Turner (GBR) getting a surprise bronze

Vivian Cheruiyot leads a clean sweep for Kenya in the women’s 10000m

Valerie Adams hurls the shot to an area record of 21.24m in the women’s shot

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Veteran new British asset Yamile Aldama provides a silver lining at the end of what has been a dismal morning for the British team. She shows glimpses of her old form to sail beautifully out to a first-round 14.35m (0.7m/sec), a SB and a UK leading mark this summer, despite missing an awful lot on the board. That’s lovely stuff by the 39-year-old who books her slot in the final in style (14.35, 14.20, x) and looks capable of at least a top six placing as things look after qualification. Incidentally, that was the farthest jump by a Brit since Ashia Hansen‘s 14.47m indoors in February 2004 as well as improving Aldama’s already runner-up position in the UK all-time rankings.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=W/discCode=TJ/combCode=hash/roundCode=q/results.html#detW_TJ_hash_q

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Disastrous blow in the javelin, the penultimate discipline, and effectively a knock-out out of the blue for Jessica Ennis and her gold medal chances in the heptathlon as she astonishingly can’t beat what would be a routine 40m in all three efforts of hers, a modest 39.95m her best of the day – shades of Kelly Sotherton‘s sufferings in the recent past spring to mind! Her worst outing this season was 42.93m and the last time she ranged below 40m in a competition can be traced down to 2007! Compared to a superb SB of 52.95m by Tatiana Chernova in the previous group that very much means game over as she is going to need to find some nine seconds up on the Russian in the 800m and there is very little to spare between the two therein.

Louise Hazell fares much better with 41.75m but has slighly slipped off pace for an overall PB although she could still pull it round with a PB in the closing event. Nonetheless, it has been a very good championships for her.

It has to be mentioned that Tony Minichiello, Ennis’s coach, wasn’t happy from the beginning with the javelin taking place in the morning rather than more typical afternoon session.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=W/discCode=JT/combCode=HEP/roundCode=u/results.html#detW_JT_HEP_u

Standings after 6 disciplines

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=W/discCode=HEP/combCode=hash/roundCode=6/summary.html#detsum

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More disappointment for the British team this morning as both Tom Parsons and Martyn Bernard fail to make the final end of the men’s high jump as nine athletes clear the tough qualifying standard of 2.31m, with three making up the remaining places on countback on 2.28m, to set up a appetite-whetting tussle for the medals.

Parsons could not go higher than a second-time 2.25m, also needing as many to put away 2.21m, in the A group while European bronze medalist Bernard struggles with third-time clearances over both 2.16 and 2.21m before he crashes out at 2.25m – I don’t know whether there was any late injury or other setback involved.

Jesse Williams (USA) soars well over 2.31m at the second attempt to confirm his favourite status while Dimitris Hondrokoukis (GRE) hands in a perfect sheet of first-time passes to suggest a serious medal contender, sailing over the same height with aplomb. On the other hand, Ivan Uknov doesn’t look as assured as during the indoor season and Aleksey Dmitrik (RUS) can make it as an also-jumped at 2.28m.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=M/discCode=HJ/combCode=hash/roundCode=q/results.html#detM_HJ_hash_q

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James Shane doesn’t look so flowing and sharp as his last race when he destroyed the field at the UK Trials, probably affected by a slight achilles injury early this month, to trail well behind in tenth in 3:41.17 in the opening preliminary heat of the men’s 1500m but eventually misses out on a place in the next phase by a mere 0.03 secs. Tough luck… Still a valuable learning curve that will stand him in good stead next season. Jeff Riseley (AUS) and Andrew Wheating (USA) are notable casualties while former double European champion Mendi Baala is rather surprisingly reinstated to go through as he was responsible for his own fall down the home straight.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=M/discCode=1500/combCode=hash/roundCode=h/results.html#detM_1500_hash_h

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Helen Clitheroe is struggling but keeps going to finish well behind in 15:37.73 in eighth place in the first heat of the women’s 5000m, holding little hope that she can make it through. However, the following run turns out even slower, an increasing familiar feature in middle/long distance running these championships, as none really decides to take it on and the European 3000m champion eventually scrapes through as the very last fastest loser. Phewwwwwwww!

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=W/discCode=5000/combCode=hash/roundCode=h/results.html#detW_5000_hash_h

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The good news has come from the heptathlon’s long jump as Jessica Ennis has fended off successfully the anticipated attack of  Tatiana Chernova to take firm control of matters and heading safely to a second global title on the trot. Both opened with safe attempts stepping well off the take-off board at 6.38 and 6.27m respectively but the Russian ramped up her bid with a 6.61m (-0.7m/sec) in the second to threaten briefly with a sizeable cut off the deficit before  the Briton immediately responded with an equal PB of 6.51m (0.0) to take matters back in her hands. Nothing changed in the final round with Ennis still holding a healthy lead of 118pts on the Russian, 5088 to 4970pts, going into the javelin.

Louise Hazell has managed a best of 6.25m (0.3m/sec) on the day so remains on course to a PB of hers.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=W/discCode=LJ/combCode=HEP/roundCode=u/results.html#detW_LJ_HEP_u

Helen Clitheroe has advanced to the final of the women’s 5000m even the hard way as she faced an anxious wait to make it as literally the last  fastest loser in 15:37.73, eighth in the first heat.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-30-2011/sex=W/discCode=5000/combCode=hash/roundCode=h/results.html#detW_5000_hash_h

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DAY IV morning session lead-up

Jessica Ennis begins the second and final day of the heptathlon holding a healthy lead of 151pts on pursuing Tatiana Chernova, 4078 to 3927pts respectively, and her first goal and care should be to protect that advantage under the anticipated counterattack by the Russian in what could turn the decisive battleground in the pit of the long jump. There will be blood and thunder in the full sense of the phrase, where no quarters will be given nor taken, and Ennis’s warrior insticts and prowess should rise to the occasion.

Chernova holds a substantially better PB of 6.82m (1.8m/sec) set at Gotzis but is generally an erratic performer in the discipline and could often be seen ranging in the 6.50s. On the other hand, this may not be among Ennis’s most prolific events but she is on a steady upward curve, a recent SB of 6.44 (-0.1m/sec), and combined with her sprint sharpness suggest that a breakthrough could be afoot and there could be no better time to draw it. In fact, if she can put in an early jump in the 6.50s first herself she could place her Russian rival under enormous pressure to produce a big jump to cover some ground, which in turn could lead to fouls. So, hopefully, she is going to take the script in her hands and direct the plot to her advantage.

Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell is lying in 16th place on 3634pts overnight after a fabulous first day and if she can maintain the trend and land in the 6.40s she is going to be well on the way to a score over 6200pts at the end of the day.

European bronze medalist Martyn Bernard and Tom Parsons will be contesting a tough qualification round in the men’s high jump where the qualifying standard is set at a daunting 2.31m, although arguably it should go down to the top 12. It’s just too tough a call to ask for twelve or more people to clear that height in the morning and not the final. Both have been there and done it time and again so hopefully they are going to force their way through.

The women’s 5000m heats see European indoor champion Helen Clitheroe enter the frame in the first out of the two virtual semifinals, with five going through by right and five fastest losers on offer. She is facing arguably the tougher of the line-ups that includes four runners well under 15mins, two Ethiopians involving Meseret Defar and two Kenyans, so her main and more realistic aim will be to get the better of fellow veteran Yelena Zadorozhnaya who is narrowly faster on paper. Of course, a fast pace could ensure her passage to the final anyway.

Young James Shane is thrown in at the deep end in his blooding in a major championships as he is facing a tough opening first round heat in the 1500m that features eight men with faster SBs than his and he will probably have to make one of the six automatic spots to make it through. Nevertheless, this is going to be mainly a tactical affair and the European U23 silver medalist has shown a shrewd tactician who knows to make the right moves at the right times, he is quite fast and versatile a runner while his PB of 3:36.22 secs doesn’t quite reflect the quality of his form. If he hasn’t been much affected by an achilles complaint early in the month, he is going to be a handful. Nick Willis (NZL) and Daniel Kipchirchir Komen (KEN) are the top names in this field.

Both Ennis and Hazell will be competing in the B group of the heptathlon’s javelin and by that time the former will have known what is required of her to remain on top as Chernova will have finished her own efforts. If she can match her best form around 46m, or even better improve by a metre or two, then she should be alright before the final act of the 800m later on.

Finally, Yamile Aldama goes in the second pool of the women’s triple jump with either a jump over 14.45m, the qualifying standard, or a top 12 position among both groups in her sights.

The men’s 110m hurdles final

When the Oscar nominations are made early next year, the scriptwriters of the World Championships in Daegu may stand a good chance of being named in the category of Original Screenplay as the wild twists and turns of the plot never fail to stun even the most demanding of spectators and viewers. Blended, in an subtle intriguing manner, with a growing ‘urban legend’ of the program cover that seems to grip the top stars of the championships who will be waiting the next morning in dread to find out who goes next.

Dayron Robles, the Olympic champion and world champion, thought he had cheated the jinx as he managed to survive the start unlike Usain Bolt or Steve Hooker the previous two days. However, he didn’t survive the end. He crossed the line first but already knew deep inside that things had gone wrong and his immediate reactions could give his throughts and feelings away. Shortly after he contrived to start a lap of honour along with American runner-up Jason Richardson, the replays of the race started playing in the large scoreboards hanging above to reveal what had happened and draw his parade to a premature end.

It was at the peak of the action as he and former Olympic champion Xiang Liu were fighting stride for stride for gold in the late stages that he – rather inadvertedly – twice impeded the Chinese by brushing his hand, eventually knocking him off balance over the final hurdle as he powered off to cross the line first. Liu let up and fast-finishing Richardson, challenging close all along, came  through for silver to compound his misery. But the Chinese team lodged a successful appeal shortly and the curse of the world championships manifested itself to haunt the Cuban once more, swiftly deprived of his new-earned rank. Memories are still fresh of him left stuck in his blocks during the heats of the previous championships in Berlin.

Richardson, almost reduced to tears kneeling down after the finish, suddenly found himself on top of the world, maybe by way of a fair reward of fate for an astonishing display of a 13.11 secs clocking into a -1.6m/sec in the semifinals, Liu was elevated to silver medal and Andy Turner, who couldn’t have possibly imagined how important sneaking ahead of David Oliver on the line in 13.44 secs would actually be, was promoted to a most surprising bronze to add to his European and Commonwealth titles from last year.

In fairness, that wasn’t quite the best of showings from the European champion who made it to the last eight only as a fastest loser, by contrast to a smooth opener of 13.32 secs in the first round heats, but he kept going and fought all the way to the wire from the far side in lane one. But lucky as it may have been for Andy, a medal is always a medal and such turnrounds have seen people soar to the very top so many times and fortune could be smiling on the Briton, having fallen from grace just a couple of seasons ago. On top of that, that medal is going to shape a huge mental boost ahead of the Olympics next summer and bolster up faith that he could make his way into the medals over there as well.

Incidentally, that was Britain’s first medal since Colin Jackson‘s golden campaign in Seville 1999 and ninth won in the event overall (2-4-3) to make the high hurdles the most successful event for the country in the history of the championships, featuring also Tony Jarrett and Jon Ridgeon among medalists.

Britain’s joy was enlarged as a stuttering-most-of-the-season Will Sharman suddenly found his feet to sweep over the hurdles to an astonishing third in the second semifinal in 13.51 into a strong headwind of -1.6m/sec, very much in the same pattern as his staggering emerge on the international scene in Berlin two years ago, and returned in the final later to complete the turn-up by picking up a superb fifth in 13.67 (-1.1m/sec) and get his international career back on track in earnest.

Perri Shakes-Drayton is easily through the third preliminary heat of the 400m hurdles as she powers round the second half of the race into second in 55.90 secs well behind a flowing Lashinda Demus, who sets a smooth 54.93 secs. Nice job!

Tougher work for Eilidh Child from the inside lane but she delivers a solid run to go through the fourth heat in third in 56.18 secs, Vania Stambolova getting this one in 55.29 secs. The Jamaican top duo of Kaliese Spencer and Melaine Walker also catch the eye with prominent displays in winning their heats in 54.93 and 54.86 secs respectively.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=W/discCode=400H/combCode=hash/roundCode=h/results.html#detW_400H_hash_h

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Unfortunately, Ennis can’t overcome 1.89m for a slightly disappointing performance in the high jump to leave the field open to Fountain, who makes the most of the Brit’s earlier than anticipated exit to grind out a third-time clearance and move 41pts away.

Well, it seems that Ennis is going to keep everyone on edge all the way as she fails twice at 1.86m, just a mere attempt left… But she summons up her strength to go over that at the third and settle nerves among the British supporters. Hyleas Fountain has already cleared that height at the first, maintaining a clean sheet so far, while Chernova, Dobrynska and Oeser all go out.

Jessica Ennis clears 1.86m at the third attempt

Jessica Ennis is over 1.83m at the second time of asking again and back on track, hopefully she is going to embark on a smoother trail over the following heights.

Jessica encounters a few problems as she clears 1.80m at the second and misses 1.83m at the first, getting too close to the bar. Fabulous follow-up for Louise Hazell with a PB of 1.74m in the high jump!

Standings (after 2 disciplines)

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=W/discCode=HEP/combCode=hash/roundCode=2/summary.html#detsum

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=W/discCode=HJ/combCode=HEP/roundCode=u/results.html#detW_HJ_HEP_u

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Brett Morse squeezes into the men’s discus final through a second-round 62.38m to snatch the 12th and last place available as some big names like Zoltan Covago (HUN) crash out! Carl Myerscough can’t follow through on a best of 60.29m on the day but it’s great news that Britain will have a male thrower in a final.

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=M/discCode=DT/combCode=hash/roundCode=q/results.html#detM_DT_hash_q

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Dai Greene comfortably qualifies from the opening heat of the men’s 400m hurdles as he gets first place in a smooth 48.52 secs tied with South African Cornell Frederics, breezing through in the late stages after a conservative first 300m. Jack Green falls well behind the main pace over the first 200m in the fourth heat but makes good ground round the top bend to come through into third, yet stumbles badly over the last hurdle and has to hold himself inside his lane to come an eventual fourth in 50.39 – won’t help him much in getting a good lane in the semis though. Nathan Woodward executes nicely from the outside to come second in the fifth in 49.06 secs and go safely through behind American Jeshua Anderson (48.83).

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=M/discCode=400H/combCode=hash/roundCode=h/results.html#detM_400H_hash_h

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Some excellent steeplechasing on show in the virtual semifinal heats, in particular the second run where Ezekiel Kemboi drifts past outwards in 8:10.93, a slight shortcut out to the dressing rooms (!), after a brave Ruben Ramolefi (RSA) has done all the ‘dirty’ work from the front but still hangs on nicely to go through a convincing second in a national record of 8:11.50. Third is Hammid Ezzine (MAR) in a SB of 8:11.81 and Nahom Mesfim (ETH) fourth in a PB of 8:12.04, where Bouabdellah Tahri makes it easily through as a fastest loser in  8:13.22. Superb times for a morning heat!

Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=M/discCode=3KSC/combCode=hash/roundCode=h/results.html#detM_3KSC_hash_h

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The first of the three British discus throwers, Abdul Buhari (x, 60.21, 58.37), goes out early with 60.21m for 13th in the A pool. Hopefully, Brett Morse and Carl Myerscough will fare better in the other group but the British team need to get steadily on an upward trail having suffered already quite a few casualties on the way.

Group A results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=M/discCode=DT/combCode=hash/roundCode=q/results.html#detM_DT_hash_q

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Jessica Ennis gets off to a sound start to her campaign as she finishes a narrow runner-up in 12.94 secs (0.4m/sec) for 1133pts behind Hyleas Fountain, running on the far side, and was unlucky to hit hurdles two and eight hard with her trail leg, she could have won that in a low 12.8s – a good start nonetheless! Fountain’s time was a SB of 12.93 secs (1135pts) and the two of them get straight into the lead in the standings.

Hyleas Fountain sneaks the 100m hurdles from Jessica Ennis on the line

Great start for Louise Hazell to grab a PB of 13.24 secs for 1089pts from the outset which augurs well for a new total PB! Jennifer Oeser (GER) runs 13.33 secs.

Equal PB for Tatiana Chernova (RUS) in 13.32 secs behind Karolina Tyminska‘s (POL) big PB of 13.12 secs in the second heat (0.9m/sec), while Natalya Dobrynska (UKR) runs a PB of 13.43 secs in the fourth (1.7m/sec). Apparently, Jessica was least favoured by the wind, which has shifted into a steady tailwind since yesterday, compared to her major rivals but she has still gained a considerable early advantage.

Standings after one discipline

1.Hyleas Fountain (USA) 1135

2.Jessica Ennis (GBR) 1133

3.Jessica Zelinka (CAN) 1123

4.Karolina Tyminska (POL) 1106

5.Louize Hazell (GBR) 1089

6.Tatiana Chernova (RUS) 1077

7.Jennifer Oeser (GER) 1075

9.Natalya Dobrynska (UKR) 1060

100m hurdles Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-29-2011/sex=W/discCode=100H/combCode=HEP/roundCode=u/results.html#detW_100H_HEP_u

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Jessica Ennis begins the defence of her global title in the heptathlon shortly and will be out eager to stamp her authority and set a searing relentless pace from the off, heaping up the pressure and stretching her rivals all along. Setting off the third day of action, first stop is traditionally the 100m hurdles, a stronghold of hers, where she will be looking to translate her excellent recent PB of 12.79 secs into a solid straight lead to have the others chasing hard, with an unconvincing this term Hyleas Fountain (USA) her main opposition in the opening heat. The American holds a PB of 12.78 secs, a SB of 13.12 secs, and could push the Briton to a fast time where headwinds down the home straight hopefully won’t be a feature as have been most of the first two days in Daegu. Berlin medalist Jennifer Oeser (GER), a PB of 13.14 secs, figures as well.

Commonwealth Champion Louise Hazell is also involved in that same heat hoping for a solid start to a campaign that could help haul up into a top eight placing, the next stepping-stone towards gaining a footing in the international centre of affairs in the event, with a useful SB of 13.32 secs. Among Jessica’s main rivals, Tatiana Chernova is rather surprisingly drawn in the following heat and Natalya Dobrynska (UKR) will have to wait further till the fourth and closing run to enter the fray.

Mo Farah stood in disbelief and rather hazy as he gazed around trying to make out what has happened after the end of the men’s 10000m final. He had turned equal to the challenge, fashioned a superb performance bearing all the marks and qualities of a great champion and knocked down one after the other every single top rival on the way, looking as though heading to a comprehensive victory around 250m out. And yet there he stood having to be content with silver as relatively unknown and non-fancied Ibrahim Jeilan, he among all his way more renowned countrymen, suddenly felt inspired to unleash a storming last 300m that saw him pip the European champion in the dying stages.

The young Ethiopian was no slouch by any means holding a PB of 27:02.81 as a 17-year-old back in 2006, winning the World U20 title in Beijing, and a global U20 cross-country champion in Edinburgh in 2008. Further, in hindsight, there may have been a sound ground behind his astounding success that was overlooked; he seems to be spending a great deal of time and racing in neighbouring Japan, hence more suited to the conditions that appear to have affected very much every other competitor around the arena. Unfortunately, that is part of the game too.

So has Mo stumbled upon a potential nemesis at the time that he has shrugged off every top tier name around, including great Kenenisa Bekele who sadly stepped off the track halfway through? Not necessarily. Young and talented though the Ethiopian may be, there are comets that come to blaze bright and then fizzle out so often and he will have to back his triumph up, which may turn a even more daunting task than pulling off that shocker today. Moreover, let’s not forget that Mo joined Alberto Salazar‘s camp in Oregon only midway through the winter so he may have not yet fully bedded in all the elements and gains of his training. A second, full winter is going to spell and effect a lot more in this respect while next summer he is going to entertain his rivals on his own ground; London. So there is a great deal of the plot to shape up yet.

Of course, a silver medal in such a highly quality and competitive event is no mean feat by any means, that is a wonderful achievement that Farah can take all the pride in the world in. A year ago he would have grabbed that with both hands without a second thought. So if there have been mixed feelings about him, or among his supporters, it only serves to show how far he has come since. On top of that, his golden dream is not over yet as he has got still the option of the 5000m before him so hopefully he is going to have fully recovered and have his appetite sharpened by the time the heats get underway on Thursday morning. Incidentally, that was the first British medal in the men’s distances since Jack Buckner‘s bronze over 5000m in Rome 1987 and first ever over the distance contested.

Racewise, Farah’s only slight mistake could have been that he went a little too early and too hard at the bell where a more gradual winding up of the pace could have set him up nicely for a stronger kick home and have something to respond when he came under fierce attack at the end. But full credit to Jeilan who believed he could pull it off and was duly rewarded in gold in the end, edging slightly ahead of the Briton in 27:13.81 to 27:14.07. Imane Merga‘s ‘killing elbows’ were third well behind in 27:19.14, with Zersenay Tadesse (ERI) following on in fourth in 27:22.57, while the Kenyans hardly played any part by stark contrast to their female counterparts overwhelming clean sweep in the women’s respective final yesterday.

Full result:

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-28-2011/sex=M/discCode=10K/combCode=hash/roundCode=f/results.html#detM_10K_hash_f

If you asked most people around about race walking, you’d probably scrape up just a few who would be reluctantly willing to take a look at it. Most would dismiss it without a second thought. The truth is that it is nowhere near as elegant or attractive as sprinting, running middle distances or triple/high jumping. But I’ve got to tell you something; I’ve got the greatest respect for race walkers and the hard graft and endless mileage they put in day in day out, while their events are among the most mentally/physically demanding and straining. You just keep going and going for endless stretches near maximum effort and you’ve got to sustain that for a long way.

Unlike marathons, however, race walking races are substantially more open to prediction than many other events, without that meaning they can’t be unpredictable. If you look through the results of various major championships, you will pattern out certain trends and notice certain individuals that figure very prominently. Simply, there aren’t many secrets when it comes to tactics in race walking, it’s a relentless stretching pace from the off and only very few will last to the late stages where usually most medals are effectively decided by the last kilometre or two.

Apart from similar factors to influence performance found in the marathon, like the shape and lie of the course and weather conditions, a significant consideration that comes into play is the technical individualities of the event that may easily lead to controversy as well. Walkers must not lift from the ground and have got to have their trail leg straightened at any given time, which many times can not be so easy to tell and thereby the officials’ judgement weighs into the equation too. There can be ‘soft’ and ‘strict’ officials around and no matter how illegal one may be one has got to receive two warnings first before receiving marching orders in the end, at the command of the chief official at that. Moreover, each official can serve  a single warning alone to the same walker. Thus it can become complicated in certain cases where ‘clout’, the weight of the athlete’s name that is, may also prompt different responses.

Men’s 20km

I’m going to back Olympic and World champion Valerie Borchin (RUS) as favourite to come on top of an anticipated close affair and retain his title over the distance. He is back in good form as indicated by winning in a classy 1h18:55 at Rio Maior, backed up by a sound 1h19:43 at Sesto St Giovanni, on a long unbeaten run and he is renowned for his consistency and tactical awareness, therefore a good guarantee; while he is expected to receive plenty of assistance by a strong Russian team around him. Best of whom is arguably European champion Stanislav Emelyanov who will be a contender for the title himself in his own right.

The Chinese challenge is anticipated fierce and 20-year-old Zhen Whan emerges as a major threat having won every single race on the circuit and clocked the two fastest times in the world this season, 1h18:30 and 1h18:37, as well as dipping three times inside 1h20. He is going to be a tough nut to break by the look of things. Besides him, 22-year-old Yafei Chu holds the third and fourth fastest times, topped by a best of 1h18:38, and U20 Ding Chen follows with an impressive 1h18:52 to form a formidable trio that threatens to spoil the Russian plans.

Local favourite Hyunsub Kim (1h19:31), Mexican Eder Sanchez (1h19:36) and Aussie Jarred Tallent are others to watch out for.

Prediction 1.Valeriy Borchin (RUS), 2.Zhen Wang (CHN), 3.Eden Sanchez (MEX)

Valerie Borchin wins the 20km in Daegu

Result 1.Valeriy Borchin (RUS) 1h19:56, 2.Vladimir Kanaykin (RUS) 1h20:27, 3.Luis Fernando Lopez (COL) 1h20:38

Full Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-28-2011/sex=M/discCode=20KR/combCode=hash/roundCode=f/results.html#detM_20KR_hash_f

Women’s 20km

Vera Sokolova and Anisya Kirdyakina (RUS), the bronze and silver medalists in Barcelona last summer, are lying a street ahead of everyone else at the head of the global rankings with 1h25:08 and 1h25:09 respectively, third and fourth fastest times in history, and seem poised to settle matters between them as concerns gold.

However, matters may not be quite as they appear at first sight. The master of the game over the last several years has been their more renowned compatriot Olga Kaniskina, 26, who has won every single major title since Osaka 2007 and is the second fastest ever over the distance in 1h24:56 (2009). She is lying just seventh in the world in 1h28:35 at the moment but that could be well misleading as was the case last year before she enforced her rule with authority at the Europeans once again. Despite the relatively young of her age, she is vastly experienced as well as most consistent and will turn a daunting figure among the field in the morning.

By implication, the Russians have got a very good chance of making a clean sweep of medals although the young Chinese duo of Hong Liu, brone medalist in Berlin and third fastest in 1h27:17, and U23 Senjie Qieyang, fifth fastest with 1h28:04, may have designs of their own. The fourth Russian, Tatiana Mineeva (1h28:09), Spaniard Beatriz Pascual (1h28:51), and Japanese Kumi Otoshi (1h29:11) should be noted also. Italy’s Elisa Rigaudo, the bronze medalist in Osaka, is outside 1h30 this season and will be going into the race as a dark horse.

Britain is represented by Commonwealth champion Jo Jackson (1h31:50), a top ten finisher at the Europeans, who will be attempting to land a placing in the top dozen or thereabouts as solid stepping-stone towards London next season.

Starting-list

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-31-2011/sex=W/discCode=20KR/combCode=hash/roundCode=f/startlist.html#detW_20KR_hash_f

Prediction: 1.Olga Kaniskina, 2.Anisya Kirdyakina, 3.Hong Liu

Result: 1.Olga Kaniskina (RUS) 1h29:42, 2.Hong Liu (CHN) 1h30:00, 3.Anisya Kirdyakina (RUS) 1h30:13, …, 23.Jo Jackson (GBR) 1h35:32

Full Results

http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=08-31-2011/sex=W/discCode=20KR/combCode=hash/roundCode=f/results.html#detW_20KR_hash_f

Men’s 50km

European champion Yohan Diniz hasn’t raced on the roads this season but has set a staggering world record of 3h35:27.2 over the same distance on the track, which merits even more given the lower bounce and perpetual bends of a track compared to the long stretches of a road course. The Frenchman is on a roll and therefore can firmly assume the favourite tag starting a race where weather conditions will weigh in even more due to the vast duration of the event.

Russian Sergey Bakulin, third in Barcelona behind Diniz, has improved by nearly five minutes and heads the world rankings on a big PB of 3h38:46 so will be expected to pose questions allied with his more renowned countrymen Sergey Kirdyapkin, the defending champion, Denis Nizhegorodov, Beijing bronze medalist and holder of the world best on the road in 3h34:14 (2008) – without an equivalent pedigree in major championships nevertheless.

The Chinese boast a strong presence of three walkers in the top six in the world this season, namely runner-up Si Tianfeng (3h38:48), fourth-placed Faquang Xu (3h42:20) and sixth-ranked Jianbo Li (3h43:38), but remains to be seen whether they are going to translate it into a real threat, while Slovakian Matej Toth has marked vast progress of nearly 14 minutes into 3h39:46 and has to be taken into account as well.

Osaka world champion Nathan Deakes (AUS) is working his way steadily back after a lengthy spell on the sidelines and this race may come a little too early for him, a SB of 3h48.29. His compatriot Jared Talent, silver medalist in Beijing, could figure high despite having not raced over the distance this term. He has shown good form with a fast 1h19:57 over 20km if it is anything to go by so he shouldn’t be dismissed. Luke Adams, sixth in Berlin, makes up a very good trio for the ‘Kangaroos’.

Other notable names are very consistent European silver medalist Grzegorz Sudol (POL), Berlin silver medalist Trond Nymark (NOR), Spaniard Jesus Angel Garcia and Irishman Robert Heffernan.

Prediction 1.Yohan Diniz (FRA), 2.Sergey Kirdyakin (RUS), 3.Grzegorz Sudol (POL)

Eurosport Live streamline: http://linkupvideos.com/track2.html

Starting-lists & Results http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/ResultsByDate.aspx

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The Action

Very good work by the British sprinters as they all qualify to the semifinals of the men’s 100m the easier or the harder way. Dwain Chambers looks very smooth as he cruises through to runner-up over the second half of the last heat in 10.28 (-0.7m/sec) suggesting a strong contender for a place in the top eight, Usain Bolt looking back to his more familiar fluent version as he eases up way out and past the line in the fastest time out of the quarters in 10.10 secs.

Usain Bolt and Dwain Chambers in the 5th heat of the 100m

Harry Aikines-Ayreety seems to be coming of age on the international scene as he executes well out of his blocks to a strong start that he maintains nicely down the stretch to come second in 10.28 secs (-1.7m/sec) behind a frighteningly cruising Walter Dix who set 10.25 secs at the front where Marlon Devonish needs to wait but finally makes the cut as a fastest loser with 10.34 secs (-1.0m/sec) as fourth in the third section.

Yohan Blake (JAM, 10.12, -1.2m/sec), evergreen Kim Collins (SNK, 10.13, -1.7m/sec) and Nesta Carter are others to impress in these early days but Richard Thompson (TRI) and Justin Gatlin (USA) look rather stiff through the quarters. All heats were run into headwinds that don’t augur well for fast times in the top stages.

Shara Proctor crashed out of a rather scrappy long jump qualification after two fouls and a modest third attempt at 6.34m (-0.2m/sec) where even Britney Reese needed all three attempts to book her berth in the final, powering out to the top mark of the day at 6.79m nevertheless.

What a day for the Kenyan distance girls who move on to make a second clean sweep in a single day following the astounding triple triumph in the streets of Daegu over the marathon this morning. Vivian Cheruiyot always looked like the one to beat coming to the championships and asserts her authority on the 10000m final as she decisively picks it up over the last couple of laps, winds it up nicely up the back straight and unleashes a searing finish to pull away down the home straight from Sally Kipyego to a comprehensive victory in 3:48.98 to 30:50.04. I guess the Kenyans will be holding some wild party all night tonight after that, even if there was a fourth medal they would have won it!

Final heat, Nicola Sanders embarks on a strong first 300m from the inside and looks in control well into the home straight for that well saught-after fourth place but Swede Moa Hejmer is coming past strong late on the outside and push her outside the automatic spots. Thankfully, her 52.65 secs is good enough to scrape through but that will make it extremely hard to draw a decent lane in the semifinals later.

I don’t think that going out so hard really serves Sanders’s purposes to better advantage, she made that same mistake in the semifinals of Berlin two years ago, therefore I hope that she has taken that on board and employs a more measured approach round the lap in her next race.

Sanya Richards-Ross looks like back to her best to me, so very comfortable and flowing round the track. She is going to take something special to beat I feel! Allyson Felix was also easily through from the opening heat as runner-up in 51.45 secs as Osaka bronze medalist Novlene Williams-Mills (JAM) got first slightly ahead in 51.30 secs so there is a mouth-watering duel building up nicely on the way to the final.

Lee McConnell makes easy work of going through the fourth heat employing a swift first 200m to ease down the home straight in third across the line in 52.75 secs behind Amantle Montsho who unnecessarily keeps going hard all the way to the line in 50.76 secs – someone should tell her of saving up for the race that matters.

Christine Ohuruogu talks after her false-start

Unfortunately, we’re never going to get to know what sort of form Christine Ohuruogu arrived in Daegu as she falls into a rather naive for her class and experience false-start in that third 400m heat to receive her taking her marching orders off the track. That’s a shocking virtual end to her season from an individual point of view at least… Such a shame.

Christine Ohuruogu is the first Brit to engage the evening action at the Daegu stadium going in the third heat of that women’s preliminary round of the 400m in a few minutes, a chance to gain a first glimpse into her form and her prospects in these championships.

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Evening session build-up

The 400m girls get the action going for the British team as they go into the preliminary round looking for places in the semifinals. The first four of each of the five heats on schedule gain automatic qualification and there are going to be four fastest losers making it through as well, therefore the British girls should renew their date over the distance tomorrow the easy or the hard way.

Olympic champion Ohuruogu is the first to join the early skirmishes in the event as she is down in lane five in the third heat with Berlin bronze medalist Antonina Krivoshapka (RUS) the main other name going in three. She is third fastest on paper so shouldn’t encounter any problems to further her campaign.

Lee McConnell goes also in lane five in the next heat and looks well positioned to qualify as third fastest in the field behind Amantle Montsho (BOT), a 49.71 secs PB this term, in lane two and American rising prospect Francena McCorory a lane inside the Scot.

Former world championships silver medalist Nicola Sanders may have the toughest task of all as she will be called upon to tackle the tight inside lane in the fifth and strongest heat, featuring defending champion Sanya Richards-Ross in lane five, Denisa Rosolova (CZE) in lane two and Shericka Williams (JAM) in three. Nicola is fifth fastest on paper but she is in much better shape than her SB of 51.84 secs and should have the beating of Swedish girl Moa Hjelmer (51.58 PB) out in seventh.

Shara Proctor is lining up in the B qualifying group in the women’s long jump and will need to either better a sound standard of 6.75m or make the top 12 overall from both pools, something well within her powers as shown time and again this summer.

Fun times are over and it’s real and ruthless business in the men’s 100m for the spinters from this stage on. There are seven heats scheduled for the quarters where the three first past the post and three fastest times are going to see the light of the semifinals later on. First to go out is Harry Aikines-Ayreety who is marginally third fastest at 10.13 secs in the second run and has got the awkward inside lane although he won’t be away from the main action as Walter Dix (USA) will be right next to him in two. Keston Bledman (TRI) is the other sub 10 man of the field out in seven and Harry must ensure he finishes ahead of Andrew Hinds (BAR) who’s got 10.14 secs to his credit, backed up by a 10.03 secs PB.

Marlon Devonish isn’t faced with any easier task either as he goes in lane five in the next heat sandwiched between Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) on the left and ‘frostbitten’ Justin Gatlin (USA) on the right, while he will have to hold off Dutch now Churandy Martina for third and not have to gamble on a fastest loser place.

Dwain Chambers is the best positioned of the three, though isolated on the outside, as easily second fastest from the penultimate heat with Usain Bolt occupying the top lane (four).

There will be neither Paula Radcliffe nor Mary Keitany (KEN), the London marathon victor last April, or even Liliya Shobukova (RUS) involved but the first virtual final of the XIII World Championships has got plenty to look for as there is a bundle of girls with times in the 2h20 to 2h23 region, particularly coming from the powerful squads of Kenya and Ethiopia, and anything could happen in an event so unpredictable and with such fine differences between athletes at the top. Further, an athlete’s performance over such a distance can be so volatile in that it turns equally on his physical state and energy levels on the day, the lie of the course and, of course, weather conditions.

Unless there is an overwhelming favourite like Radcliffe or Joan Benoit (later Samuelson) used to be, predicting the outcome of a marathon is pretty much a shot in the dark. So I’m going to take a stab at it and gamble on a Far Easterner, Japanese Yoshimi Ozaki (2h23:56), for two main reasons; she is the silver medalist from Berlin two years ago, meaning she has got a good championships pedigree, and she is going to be far more suited to the warm and humid conditions that usually prevail in Korea, let alone she must have had the chance to spend much more time on the course than most of her rivals. And in a marathon knowing a course well is essential.

Aselefech Mergia (ETH, 2h22:45) was the bronze medalist from the last global championships and has shown in good shape this season winning in Dubai so I feel she’s got a decent chance of making her way on that podium again while Kenyan Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat (2h20:46) has made a big breakthrough of nearly eight minutes this season and should figure high in the race on the strength of her time.

Others to look out for are Prisca Jeptoo (KEN) with 2h22:55 (PB), Bezunesh Bekele (ETH) on 2h23:42, Atsede Baysa (ETH) on 2h23:50 and Swedish surprise Isabellah Anderson with 2h23:41 but nothing should be ruled out to come from behind.

Prediction: 1.Yoshimi Ozaki (JAP), 2.Aselefech Mergia (ETH), 3.Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat (KEN)

Let’s pick up where we left off earlier and move into the multi-events which carry special interest and promise many exciting and fascinating moments along the way, featuring two dazzling stars in Ashton Eaton and Jessica Ennis who appear as overwhelming favourites to claim the respective titles in the decathlon and heptathlon all things equal.

Decathlon

Who can really stop fearsome Ashton Eaton in the decathlon, which starts in only a few hours from now as a matter of fact? The new American multi-sensation is not only highly talented and widely acknowledged beyond any doubt but looks also as though improving with every passing day at an amazing rate, setting PBs with the same fluency and ease that Wayne Rooney scores for United in the Premiership. On top of that, he is also pushing his boundaries evenly all round and looks bound to provide human shape to the concept of the ‘perfect decathlete’, showing already hardly any weakness across disciplines.

Ashton Eaton during his decathlon PB of 8729pts at the US Trials

A first look at the world rankings of the season will show Eaton leading on a PB of 8729pts at the US Trials and defending champion Trey Hardee following closely on 8689pts set at Gotzis, a narrow gap of a mere 40pts suggesting that a grand battle is about to commence. But it’s not exactly that way as the effective distance between the two is considerably wider. Since then, Eaton has improved from 10.33 to 10.26 secs over 100m (1.5m/sec), cleared 2.10m from 2.05m in the high jump and shattered his discus marker by well over 3m to 47.36m, all at Chula Vista 13 days ago, and shows on fire. As things look, he could be well on the way to a score near 9000pts provided he evades any serious mistake.

At the same meet, Hardee could only muster a SB of 49.34m in the discus and his track performances brought up questions over his readiness just two weeks out from the crunch. But he is an experienced top athlete that knows his way well round the decathlon and therefore he should hold his ground firmly for a convincing runner-up as a challenge on Eaton looks rather unlikely.

Cuban Leonel Souarez (8440pts), the man who earned silver behind Hardee in Berlin, recommends the safest bet for bronze and might be troubled only by compatriot Yordani Garcia (8.397pts).

Prediction: 1.Aston Eaton, 2.Trey Hardee, 3.Leonel Souarez

Heptathlon

Likewise, Jessica Ennis commands an authority on the heptathlon like very few could boast through the history of the event, unbeaten since forced to pull out of Gotzis with a foot injury in 2008. Once that nightmare was over, she never looked back and moved on to collect the global crown in emphatic fashion in Berlin, the world indoor gold in Doha and the European title in Barcelona, ever improving all round en route. Further, missing a considerable spell sidelined through injury at the end of the winter hardly affected her prowess as she saw off Tatiana Chernova, maybe her closest rival for many, with relative ease at Gotzis off only a few weeks training to further reinforce her place and rule at the very top of multievent global order.

Jessica Ennis wraps up heptathlon gold in Berlin 2009

Since then, she has hauled in her best form in the long jump with 6.44m (-0.1m/sec) in Birmingham and scorched to a superb PB of 12.79 secs over 100m hurdles at Loughborough (1.5m/sec) so she is heading into the defence of her title fully and heavily armed and her confidence sky high. Nonetheless, apart from her undisputed talent all over the park where she is really nearly impossible to defeat is her mentality. She never knows when she is defeated as she never gets affected by any slip-up or turn of situation around on the way – she’s going to bounce back in supreme fashion in the very next discipline!

She is fiercesome competitor who gets fired up when she is feeling the others breathing around her, the clang of the spikes on the track and the tension soaring up. You can’t defeat her simply because she is going to take something special to beat and even if that happens she is going to come up with something better still.

On the other hand, Chernova looks to thrive when the pressure is off and feels no real threat around her, having yet to prove herself on the big stage where she is usually seen to fall well behind from the off and desperately chasing all along to salvage something at the end. Suffice to say that she never really got within striking distance of a not 100% ready Ennis at Gotzis and went on to score a PB of 6773pts at Kladno only a fortnight later. Her main strengths lie particularly in the second day but the big question is how far behind she is going to lie overnight. And if it comes to a neck-and-neck struggle, will she have the nerve and reserves of mental strength to cope with the pressure?

Olympic champion Natalya Dobrinska has been a shadow of herself and goes into the competition as a totally unknown quantity while Jennifer Oesser, slighly off her PB on 6663pts, is a consistent performer who can always pick a trail to the podium and could upset both to silver. As a matter of fact, the German has medalled in both Berlin and Barcelona to demonstrate substantial championships credentials. Hyleas Fountain (USA) is going to be there too but has hardly displayed any sort of form that could trouble Ennis so far.

Poland’s Karolina Tyminska has moved up by a chunk to a huge PB of 6516pts and could harbour hopes of sneaking some medal if some big name or two falter badly on the way, as should new-kid-on-the-block Aiga Grabuste from Estonia with a PB of 6507pts this season.

Commonwealth champion Louise Hazell relishes rising to the challenge of the heptathlon and totalled a narrow PB of 6166pts at Ratingen, especially when hardly anything in her run-up suggested something of the like, and will be aiming to work her way nearer the top eight and hopefully over 6200pts.

Prediction: 1.Jessica Ennis, 2.Jennifer Oesser, 3.Tatiana Chernova

With the World Championships now a little over than 15 hours away, let’s make a quick round over the various events on display and pick up the outlook of the action as it will be unfolding over the next nine days in Daegu, as close as it is possible anyway as there are definitely going to be many twists and turns in the plot. So how about starting off with some events that usually enjoy a great deal less of the spotlight and media prominence like the women’s throws? There are fascinating and intriguing affairs building up therein and worth watching out for all along.

Shot Put

Valerie Adams has returned with a vengeance to claim back what is hers and been battering the mid to high 20m region to dominate last summer’s number one Nadzeya Ostapchuk with aplomb, heading to the battle as a firm favourite to retain her title. Indeed, the Belarusian European champion is left scratching around for answers as she has lost every single encounter to her rival and time is running out on her; albeit holding the farthest put in the globe at 20.94m that forms her only consolation and a lifeline as yet. But the Kiwi is a hell of a competitor with so many strings to her bow and realistically I can’t see the trend shifting here either. You can’t help feeling that no matter what Ostapchuk pulls out of the ring Adams will come up with something special.

New American record-holder Jillian Camarena-Williams has not only surpassed 20m this term (20.18m) but is also very consistent in the high 19m and therefore appears to have the edge over young Chinese Lijiao Gong (20.10) in the fight for bronze, where one should also note American runner-up Michelle Carter (19.86m). Strangely enough, the Germans and Russians are hardly anywhere to be seen this summer.

Discus

Croatian European champion Sandra Perkovic suspended, there is no standout favourite in this one despite Yanfeng Li’s global-topping 67.98m (PB). The Chinese doesn’t appear to have thrown since mid June, though this could be gathered as a traditional competitive build-up pattern in context, and her record at major championships isn’t that spectacular having failed to get anywhere around the medals even in Beijing. For that matter, German Nadine Muller (66.05m) lies in even worse light and her slump at the European Team Championships has hardly helped her cause despite holding a respectable percentage of the best marks at the top end this summer.

If you call for reliability and consistency, then Yarelys Barrios (CUB, 65.44) will step forth. She was silver medalist in all three last major global championships and has won the bulk of her competitions as yet this summer so her time may have come to mount the highest step on the podium – my own slight favourite.

Defending champion Danni Samuels (AUS, 62.33m) hasn’t quite sparkled but should not be taken lightly while Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton (USA, 64.13m) is in her best shape for a while and could turn dangerous. A big unknown quantity will be former European champion Darya Pishchalnikova (RUS, 63.91m) who returns after five years.

Hammer

Unless something extraordinary occurs, Betty Heidler should walk away with a second global title after four years as she is lying head and shoulders above anyone else, having not only set a massive new world record of 79.42 but also holding all four marks set over 76m in the world this season. I don’t know whether a slight disruption in her final preparations in Korea could affect her any but she looks to have got just too much for anyone else.

From there on, the battle for the minor medals ought to be waged between Olympic silver medalist Yipsi Moreno (CUB, 74.46), Beijing bronze medalist Wenxiu Zhang (CHN, 75.65m) and former world record holder Tatyana Lysenko (RUS) who all range around the 74 to 76m region although none should overlook returning defending champion Anita Wlodarczyk (POL), who set 73.05m less than a fortnight ago and could carve out a further couple of metres up on that leading up to the event. The other German, Katrin Klaas (75.30m), is an outside contender too.

Sophie Hitchon (69.59m) competes for the first time in a major senior championships and will very likely need a national record over 70m to advance to the final but she is an excellent big time competitor with a well-proven pedigree in this department and nothing should be ruled out.

Javelin

This promises to produce fireworks blazing up in the sky of Daegu if the lead-up to the event is anything to go by. World record holder and Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova (69.45m) and Christina Obergfoll (68.86m) have been relentlessly fighting it out all season in the high 60s, with very much an equal share of the spoils, but when it comes to major championships the Czech looks to have the upper hand and she should start as favourite. By contrast, the German doesn’t quite get it right when it matters and that could weigh on her.

Maria Abakumova (RUS) has been there or thereabouts, having set 67.98m this term, and on her day could be capable of anything, including the world record which figures as a possibility in these championships, although she can be quite unpredictable at the same time as well. If she could incorporate that element of consistency into her performance, none really knows what she could do on her wide range of physical-technical qualities.

Goldie Sayers (64.46) has displayed a new improved version of herself and been enjoying her best and more consistent ever season so will be looking to work her way up nicely and pick off anyone who slips up from the above top three to force her way into the medals. Unlike previous seasons, she has developed a sound duration through the rounds and a tendency/ability to hit her best throw in the last two attempts in every single competition of hers this summer, which may stand her in good stead. After all, it’s always a great mental boost into a competition to know that your best may have yet to come.

South African Sunette Viljoen, with 66.47m last week so in good form, could be a danger on her day and Slovenian Martina Ratej has thrown 65.89m, but that was back in late May and hasn’t come anywhere near that since.