World Athletics Championships: Five things to follow in the Women's events

Stars such as Elaine Thompson, Caster Semenya, and Kendra Harrison will be amongst those worth watching when action begins this Friday.

World Athletics Championships: Five things to follow in the Women's events
Caster Semenya will be in action in three events at the World Championships (Getty/Ezra Shaw)

The World Athletics Championships in London will begin later this week, with several people eyeing up the opportunity to take a World Title in the stadium where the Olympic athletics took place five years ago.

There are undoubtedly several exciting events to look forward to in London, with this piece looking at some of the most interesting women’s events to follow when action begins on Friday. They include one of the most interesting and competitive rivalries in world athletics, a dominant force in the sport looking to add to her legendary status, and an American looking for redemption after a mixed 2016 season.

Thompson and Schippers continue rivalry

Perhaps the most competitive track rivalry in the past few years has been that of Elaine Thompson, the 100 and 200 meter champion from the Olympic Games last summer, and Dafne Schippers, the defending world champion in the 200 meters. Arguably one of the most competitive rivalry in sport, things have heated up recently with Schippers revealing that the two have a difficult relationship.

Schippers and Thompson embrace after the 200m final in Rio last summer (Getty/Alexander Hassenstein)
Schippers and Thompson embrace after the 200m final in Rio last summer (Getty/Alexander Hassenstein)

It has been Thompson who has been on top in the last 18 months or so, taking both sprinting Olympic titles and generally being in better form this season, though Schippers, who took silver behind the Jamaican in Rio, has regained her form after a slow start to the season and is the third-fastest women in 200 meters. With Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce out due to pregnancy, it seems that all eyes will be on those two in London; can Thompson continue her dominance, or will Schippers become a world champion once again?

Wlodarczyk’s dominance set to continue

She may not be one of the most high-profile athletes in London, though arguably no one is a bigger favorite to take the gold medal in their event than Anita Wlodarczyk, the dominant force in the hammer throw. The Pole, the defending world champion and a two-time Olympic champion, is the only woman to ever throw over 80 meters in the event, and fell just 11 centimetres short of her own world record a few days ago.

Wlodarcyzk is arguably the heaviest favorite for gold in London (Getty/Alexander Hassenstein)
Wlodarcyzk is arguably the heaviest favorite for gold in London (Getty/Alexander Hassenstein)

Wlodarczyk set the world record of 82.98 meters in the Olympic final last summer, having set it earlier in the meet as well, and it seems extremely possible that she could break the 83 meter mark at the Championships in the next few days. The Pole has recorded the seven best throws in the world this year, and her season best of 82.87 metres is over six metres ahead of anyone else this year; it would almost certainly be the shock of the Championships if she was to be defeated.

Semenya targets middle distance double

One of the most controversial athletes in the world at the moment, Caster Semenya has brushed aside any criticism to dominate the 800 meters in the past 18 months, storming to the Olympic title last summer, and the South African has continued that in recent months. However, Semenya has decided to go for a brand new challenge this summer, and attempt the legendary middle distance double.

Semenya has been the dominant force in the 800m recently (Getty/Francoise Nel)
Semenya has been the dominant force in the 800m recently (Getty/Francoise Nel)

Semenya is also in South Africa’s squad for the 4x400 meters relay, though her shots at gold come in the 800 and 1500 meters. She will undoubtedly be a heavy favorite for the former, having been so dominant over the event in recent years, and she will likely also be a contender for the 1500 metres despite her relative inexperience over the distance. This will undoubtedly be tougher, with the likes of Sifan Hassan, Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon, and defending champion Genzebe Dibaba all in action, though it would be a mistake to rule out Semenya not running well.

Lasitskene could take gold representing IAAF

Though the vast majority of Russian athletes are still banned to due to the doping crisis in the country, some have been cleared to take part in London representing the IAAF, and there is a strong chance that defending high jump world champion Mariya Lasitskene could defend her title. The Russian has been in good form, and will likely be determined to win after missing out on the chance of competing in Rio last year.

Lasitskene won the world title in Beijing two years ago (Getty/Patrick Smith)
Lasitskene won the world title in Beijing two years ago (Getty/Patrick Smith)

Lasitskene has been the dominant force in the high jump this year, being the only women to jump over 2.00 meters and having the 11 best jumps in the world this year. Though this event can be unpredictable, there is seemingly no clear rival for her in London and she could easily make history by becoming the first athletes representing the IAAF to take any medal, let alone gold.

Harrison looking for redemption after missing Rio

One of the stand out moments in athletics last year was Kendra Harrison’s staggering world record run of 12.2 seconds in the 100 meter hurdles, run in the stadium where the Championships are being held this year. Unfortunately for Harrison, this came after a poor showing at the US Olympic trials, meaning she was unable to race in Rio; she will be looking for a first major title in London.

Kendra Harrison in action at the London Stadium earlier this year (Getty/Richard Heathcote)
Harrison in action at the London Stadium earlier this year (Getty/Richard Heathcote)

Harrison will be the favorite for the title in London, with her world leading time of 12.28 seconds almost two-tenths of a second ahead of fellow American Jasmin Stowers, who is ranked second for the year. There are undoubtedly threats to Harrison in London, such as Stowers and former world and Olympic champion Sally Pearson, who has been in encouraging form of late, though she is the favorite and it will be interesting to see if she can take control of the final.

 

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