Saturday 16 November, 2019

WORLD CHAMPS PREVIEW: Women's and men's 100m

Jamaica's Elaine Thompson is tipped the win the women's 100m title in Doha.

Jamaica's Elaine Thompson is tipped the win the women's 100m title in Doha.

It's only another two days to go before the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, and the excitement continues to build for the much-anticipated 10 days of action.

Loop Sports continues its event-by-event previews for the September 27 to October 6 championships.

Below we feature the women's and men's 100m races.

WOMEN'S 100M

Two Jamaican Olympic 100m champions, past and present: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, gold medallist in 2008 and 2012; Elaine Thompson, winner of the 100m and 200m in 2016. They stand joint top of this season’s world list with bests of 10.73.

Do we need to look any further for the woman who will take 100m gold at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019? Maybe Dina Asher-Smith would have a view on that…

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce storms to a10.78 victory to defeat a sensational 100m sprint field in London.

However it turns out, this is likely to be one of the most fascinating contests of the championships given its mix of proven champions at world and continental levels.

Fraser-Pryce, 32, returned to the track in earnest last year after giving birth to a son, and this season she has regained the levels she attained previously, winning at the Lausanne and London IAAF Diamond League meetings.

Thompson, 27, who finished marginally ahead of Fraser-Pryce as they both clocked that 10.73 timing in Kingston on June 21, won at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris last month in 10.98.

Dina Asher-Smith (left) beats Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for the Diamond League 100m title in Brussels.

But no one sprinter has established dominance so far this season in the 100m, with Britain’s 23-year-old European 100m and 200m champion Asher-Smith finishing the IAAF Diamond League season on a high by taking the 100m title in Brussels in a season’s best of 10.88, ahead of Fraser-Pryce, who clocked 10.95. Thompson was not in that race.

In third place was Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou, world silver medallist at 100m and 200m in London two years ago, who looks a strong world medal contender again this year.

Her teammate Murielle Ahoure, who has run 10.93 this season and has a best of 10.78, will also be one to watch, especially if she can bring the sharpness she showed in winning the world indoor 60m title last year. Ahoure, 32, already has 100m and 200m world silver medals from 2013.

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare has also had a strong season, finishing fifth in Brussels.

There will, of course, be a strong challenge too from the United States, with Tori Bowie returning to defend the title she won in London. She has run 11.09 this season, although she has a best of 10.78.

English Gardener has only run 11.16 this season, but she is a class performer who has a best of 10.74. US teammate Teahna Daniels has a clocking of 10.99 to her credit from May 24 in Sacramento.

MEN'S 100M

Continuing the rise that began in 2017, Christian Coleman will arrive in Doha as the man to beat for the title of the world's fastest man.

Two years ago, Coleman sped to NCAA titles at both the 100 and 200m after speeding to 9.82 and 19.85 early season career bests. He returned to competition to finish second over both distances at the national championships, and in London a month and a half later, raced to silver to stake his claim as the "next" 100m star.

Christian Coleman of the United States celebrates victory.

While much of his 2018 campaign outdoors --indoors, he took the world indoor 60m title after lowering the world record to 6.34-- was marred by injury, he ended the year with a 9.79 win in Brussels, another lifetime best.

Now 23, Coleman has competed well in 2019, notching 9.86, 9.85 and 9.81 performances in three successive early season races before taking the US title in 9.99 in late July. His only loss was by a whisker to Noah Lyles in his debut in Shanghai. The difference? A scant .006, 9.852 to 9.858. 

The second-fastest man in the field is Divine Oduduru, the 22-year-old Nigerian who has produced a season very similar to Coleman's 2017 campaign. 

After a pair of sub-10 performances early on, Oduduru won the NCAA 100m title in 9.86 and doubled back to take the 200m crown in a blazing 19.73 - in short, a new star was born. But his follow up performances since taking to the pro circuit have provided mixed results, a 10.26 run in Paris in his pro debut but more recently, a 20.54 200m victory at the African Games. Oduduru clearly has the ability to work his way into the medal mix, but the question that remains is how heavy a toll his early season collegiate racing schedule has taken on World Championships form.

The chase field forms a fairly wide open field where experience is likely to play a key role.

South African Akani Simbine, the reigning African champion, finished fifth at both the 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 World Championships and is arguably in better and more consistent form in the lead-in to Doha. He beat a strong field in the London stop of the Diamond League in 9.93 and clocked 9.99 more recently in Berlin.

Zharnel Hughes, the European champion, produced four successive sub-10 performances in June and July, capped by a 9.95 behind Simbine in London. More recently though, his form appears to have slipped. He clocked just 10.15 at the Diamond League final in Zurich, finishing sixth.

Canada comes armed with Aaron Brown, who's improved to 9.96 this season, and Rio triple medallist Andre de Grasse, who continues to work his way back into contention after struggling with injuries over the past two seasons. The 24-year-old produced his best outing of the season in his most recent race, a 9.97 victory in Berlin. He also showed solid form over 200m, lowering his season's best there to 19.87 in Brussels. Both are his fastest performances since 2016. 

The most experienced is defending champion Justin Gatlin, whose victory in London came 12 years after his first. He's gone under 10 seconds four times this season, capped by a 9.87 performance in Stanford in late June, but clocked just 10.29 in his most recent race in Zagreb three weeks ago where he was hit by a minor hamstring injury.

Another former champion in the field is Yohan Blake, the 2011 winner, whose 9.96 in Lausanne is the fastest by a Jamaican this year.

Others hoping to impress are Japan's Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, the double dash winner at the 2015 World U18 Championships who joined the sub-10 ranks with 9.97, Arthur Cisse, who lowered Ivory Coast's national record to 9.93, and 20-year-old Nigerian Raymond Ekevwo, who blasted to a 9.96 personal best to take the African Games title ahead of Cisse in August.

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