World Champs Predictions: Men
I’m really excited about the World Championships, which take place in a few weeks’ time. Most countries have had their trials now and the Diamond League takes a break after this weekend’s Crystal Palace meet. It’s then time for the athletes to put in a few more weeks of hard training before Championships begin at the end of the month. Here are my predictions for what will happen in each track event, starting with the men.
Winner: Asafa Powell
Outside Chance: Christophe Lemaitre
Asafa Powell leads the world rankings for 2011 with 9.78 and has been the most consistent performer in the event this year. With Usain Bolt seemingly struggling to regain his 2009 form which helped him break his world records, and with Tyson Gay missing through injury, the door is open for the bridesmaid Powell to shake off his unwanted ‘choker’ tag and win. Christophe Lemaitre could threaten him though; despite only being the 9th fastest man in the world this year, Lemaitre has shown he can run well in championships and appears to be peaking at the right time.
Winner: Usain Bolt
Outside Chance: Walter Dix
This is not a vintage year for the men’s 200. To date, only two men have broken 20 seconds, which does not compare favourably with the 7 last year or 6 the year before. For this reason, Bolt should have enough to win, though Beijing bronze medallist Walter Dix may provide a bit of competition.
Winner: LaShawn Merritt
Outside Chance: Kevin Borlée
LaShawn Merritt returns from his drugs ban and could well win one of the most open events in this year’s championships. His chances could well be ‘enhanced’ by the absence of compatriot Jeremy Wariner. Tied with him in the world rankings list is Kevin Borlée from Belgium who had an excellent 2010 in which he won the 400m at the European Championships. It will be interesting to see how Ocsar Pistorius does, even though he shouldn’t be there.
Winner: David Rudisha
Outside Chance: Abubaker Kaki
Kaki’s name is only included here for consistency’s sake. In reality, no one but Rudisha will get a look in. The only question mark over Rudisha is his record in unpaced races, but given he has run over a second quicker than his nearest rivals this year (Kiprop doesn’t count as he’s not competing in the 800), it is hard to see him having any problems. This is a race for silver.
Winner: Silas Kiplagat
Outside Chance: Nick Willis
Silas Kiplagat has been on fire this year. He made his breakthrough in 2010, bursting onto the scene with a 3:29 as an unknown 20 year old. He backed this up with Commonwealth gold and some dominating performances on the circuit this summer. The Canova-coached athlete has shown he can win slow races with his brutal kick, or lead from the front and burn his rivals off. Nick Willis is a strong tactician and could work his way through the field to win a tactical race.
Winner: Bernard Lagat
Outside Chance: Isiah Koech
Mo Farah is a marked man. It feels wrong as a fellow countryman of his to doubt his ability to win gold but all I can see is a target on his back. While my heart says Farah, my head says Lagat (and it may still turn out that Farah doesn’t run if you believe some reports) Bernard Lagat has won this title before and is in his best ever 5k form. And he still has the speed over the last 200 to shake off anyone who is still left with him. If not old man Lagat, then young man Koech could prevail. Whether or not you believe his alleged age of 17, his performances this year have been outstanding and he poses even more of a threat to Lagat than Eliud Kipchoge or Tariku Bekele do.
Winner: Mo Farah
Outside Chance: Zersenay Tadese
In 2003, Haile Gebrselassie was king of the track. Rarely beaten over any distance, but especially the 10,000m, he was not only challenged but beaten by a young pretender to his crown. His name was Kenenisa Bekele. In 2011, Kenenisa Bekele still holds that crown, along with the notable distinction of never having been beaten over 25 laps. This year, the pretender goes by the name of Mo Farah and is in the form of his life. No one has beaten him this year and he will not be beaten here either. The three former world cross country champions Merga, Bekele and Tadese will make it a thrilling race but the Londoner will come out on top.
Winner: Gebre Gebremariam
Outside Chance: Abel Kirui
Gebremariam has impressed since moving from track and cross country to the roads, and his two efforts over 42 km have resulted in a win at New York and a third place at Boston, where he was only beaten by the two fastest men ever. He should secure victory here to add to his other world title in cross country. Abel Kirui should be in good shape too, having paced Moses Mosop to his 30k world record at Eugene and could defend the gold medal he won in Berlin two years ago. Hard to see beyond Kenya or Ethiopia in this event.
Winner: Brimin Kipruto
Outside Chance: Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad
You can’t go for anyone else. Kipruto was amazing at the Monaco meet two weeks ago and was a decent final barrier clearance away from breaking Shaheen’s world record. Paul Koech, the man who helped Kipruto to that time, must surely be given the wildcard spot by Athletics Kenya if their chasers are to deliver the anticipated 1-2-3 in Korea. Mahiedine Mekhissi has also been in good form this year and if he can show some more of his now famous ‘fighting spirit’ he could be the one to break the Kenyan stranglehold on this event.
Winner: David Oliver
Outside Chance: Andy Turner
Never previously a follower of hurdles, I have been gripped by the event this year, such is the quality of the competition. The winner could come from one of three countries: China (Liu), Cuba (Robles) or the USA (Oliver). As the only man under 13 seconds this year Oliver looks the most likely, but it is a brave person who bets against either of the two previous Olympic champions. Andy Turner could return to Britain with a medal round his neck is he has a very good day.
Winner: Bershawn Jackson
Outside Chance: Dai Greene
Jackson’s record in major championships is unmatched by any of his nearest rivals, so he should go in as the favourite. LJ Van Zyl and Angelo Taylor look like his main rivals based on performances this year. Dai Greene is a very strong finisher and a good lane draw in the final might give him a chance of a medal.
I will write a follow-up post on September 5th when I have been proven wrong.