Monday 9 December, 2019

WORLD CHAMPS PREVIEW: Women's and men's 400m

Shericka Jackson, the Olympic and 2015 world bronze medallist.

Shericka Jackson, the Olympic and 2015 world bronze medallist.

It's just hours remaining. The eagerly awaited 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, will begin on Friday at 8:30 am Jamaica time with the qualifying round of the men's long jump.

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

Below we feature the women's and men's 400m races.

WOMEN'S 400M

Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Olympic 400m champion, has been unbeatable this season.

In her last significant competitive race she shattered the IAAF Diamond League 200m record by winning the title in Zurich in 21.74. She has also defeated all opposition – including Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and Britain’s European champion Dinah Asher-Smith – over the half-lap sprint.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

But as the schedule at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 is not conducive to her doubling up, Miller-Uibo has chosen to concentrate on what is still regarded as her main event over one lap.

Her clocking of 49.05 at the start of the season in Gainesville, Florida, still tops the world list for the season, and this tall, powerful 25-year-old Bahamian appears to be at the peak of her powers.

But there is a rising talent at her shoulder in the form of Bahrain’s 21-year-old Salwa Eid Naser, who is second on this year’s world list with 49.17, recorded at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne.

In Zurich earlier this month, Naser won the Diamond League 400m title in Miller-Uibo’s absence, clocking 50.24.

Miler-Uibo’s personal best for the 400m, 48.97, was recorded at last year’s IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco, under extreme pressure from Naser, who recorded her own personal best of 49.08.

That race was electric; Doha promises to provide a similarly jolting spectacle.

At the last World Championships in London Miller-Uibo, who was doubling up over 200m, appeared en route to victory over 400m only to falter and stumble near the end, finishing fourth in 50.49 as the 19-year-old Naser took silver in a then national record of 50.06.

Will Miller-Uibo win her first world gold in Qatar?

Among those seeking to avoid that scenario will be the defending champion from the United States, Phyllis Francis, who has been a consistent but not stellar performer in the intervening years. She is currently 12th on this year’s world list with 50.76.

Shakima Wimbley is the fastest of the US entries this season, standing fifth on the world list with 50.20, but the world indoor silver medallist pulled up at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels and looked to be injured. Her colleagues Kendal Ellis and Wadeline Jonathas fill the next two places with 50.38 and 50.44 respectively.

Jamaica also has strong prospects in the form of Shericka Jackson, the Olympic and 2015 world bronze medallist, who is currently fourth on the world list with 49.78, and Stephenie Ann McPherson, the 2013 world bronze medallist, who has run 50.74 this year.

Others to watch out for include Britain’s Laviai Nielsen, who has run a personal best of 50.83 this season, Lisanne De Witte of the Netherlands, who has a 2019 best of 51.30, and Poland’s European champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic, who has run 50.85 this season and has a best of 50.41.

Fred Kerley of the USA.

MEN'S 400M

In the absence of defending champion Wayde Van Niekerk, expect a new star to emerge in one of the most globally exciting events in 2019.

Leading the way are US duo Michael Norman and Fred Kerley – two of the world’s top seven one-lap exponents in history – who could serve up one of the best head-to-head battles of the championships.

Norman, the 2016 world U20 200m champion, produced a dazzling 43.45 clocking in Torrance in April to catapult himself to joint fourth on the world all-time standings.

Since then the 21-year-old has continued to impress. Victories at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Stockholm and Stanford were followed by a 0.20 triumph over Kerley at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels in a slick 44.26.

However, his one loss of the season was inflicted by Kerley as the more senior athlete clinched a stunning victory by 0.15 at the US Championships in a lifetime best of 43.64.

Kerley opened his campaign with success over one lap at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai. The 24-year-old also has superior experience to Norman, having competed at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, placing seventh in the final.

Whatever the outcome, the showdown between the pair could provide one of the highlights of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019.

Also in the frame to compete on the US squad are Nathan Strother (44.29) and Vernon Norwood (44.40), who both set PBs at the US Championships in July, and are sure to be a factor.

Outside of the USA – who has claimed gold in this event at 10 of the previous 16 editions – the Caribbean is likely to present the strongest challenge led by world silver medallist Steven Gardiner. The 24-year-old Bahamian boasts a lifetime best of 43.87 and is unbeaten over 400m for the year, running an encouraging season’s best of 44.14 in his most recent outing in Chorzow, Poland.

Jamaican talent Akeem Bloomfield.

Look out too for the 21-year-old Jamaican talent Akeem Bloomfield, who emerged on the global scene last year with a super-slick 43.94. Wins this year at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in London and Birmingham, as well as a third-place finish at the final in Brussels, adds more strength to the belief Bloomfield is a strong podium contender.

Another intriguing entrant is the 2011 world and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James. The Grenadian has been ravaged by injury over the past three seasons but a slick 44.47 clocking in early September in Andujar, Spain, in his one and only outing for the season suggests he could spring a surprise in Doha.

With a season's best of 44.52, 2016 Olympic fourth-place finisher Machel Cedenio of Trinidad and Tobago is also capable of a strong show.

Abderrahman Samba and Karsten Warholm may be better known for their world-class exploits in the 400m hurdles but the duo are also both entered for the 400m flat. Samba, the home athlete from Qatar, has a handy season’s best of 44.60. Meanwhile, Warholm is the reigning European indoor 400m champion, so the Norwegian has the tools to perform well. 

Samba’s compatriot and world bronze medallist Abdalelah Haroun is also entered, although his current form is unknown as his sole outing for the year was over 800m.

Kenyan 1:42.05 800m athlete Emmanuel Korir may be better known for accomplishments over two laps but he is also entered for the 400m on the back of a 44.55 clocking this year.

The Pan American Games gold and silver medallists, Anthony Zambrano of Colombia and Jamaica’s Demish Gaye, are also entered, as are European Team Championship winner Davide Re of Italy and Jamaica’s Nathon Allen, who finished fifth in the 2017 World Championship final.

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