Daegu, KoreaUsain Bolt’s 200m title defence will take centre stage on the penultimate day of action at the IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011, when six more titles will be decided.
After the semi-finals last night, Bolt said he’s firmly put the disappointment of his 100m false start disqualification behind him, and is only focusing on the task at hand: to become the first back-to-back 200m champion since Calvin Smith defended the title way back in 1987.
One can make the argument that Bolt has considerably more riding on tonight's final than he did in the shorter dash. The half lap is where he first made his name as a teenager; it’s the event in which he won his first World Championships medal (2007); he hasn't lost a 200m final since the Memorial van Damme in Brussels on 14 September 2007 and rides a 16-meet win streak in the event to Daegu; and it remains his favorite event.
In the 100m, he appeared vulnerable, on paper at least. Here, he's nearly a tenth-of-a-second faster than the nearest challenger at 19.86 this season, and only one of two who have cracked 20 seconds in 2011. The other is his compatriot, newcomer Nickel Ashmeade, who'll be out to prove that his 19.95 from early May was no fluke. Bolt's biggest threat is American Walter Dix, the 100m silver medallist here and the double dash bronze medalist from the 2008 Olympics.
Vlasic vs Chicherova?
Blanka Vlasic, winner at the past two World Championships, will have a struggle on her hands in her bid to become the event's first three-time winner. First, she'll be jumping injured and arriving in her most questionable form in recent years. Secondly, she's not even the world leader. That honor falls to her perennial rival Anna Chicherova, the silver medallist at the last two Championships and bronze medallist at the 2008 Olympic Games who finally looks ready to reach that top step. The 29-year-old cleared a national record 2.07m at the Russian Championships and judging from her big meet mettle, she'll be ready. Don't overlook Italy's Antonietta Di Martino who improved to 2.04m this year.
Men’s 1500 – can Kenya finally strike gold?
Giving their wealth of talent in the middle distance events, it seems strange to note that Kenya has yet to claim a men’s 1500m title. Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat, the world leader at 3:30.47, will be aiming to change that. Neither have entirely proven themselves as clever tacticians, giving the race a wide open flavour. Throw in a modest pace as was the case in the women's race on Thursday night, and it could literally be anyone's to win.
Andreas Thorkildsen will be defending his World title with solid form backing him up. The two-time Olympic champion reached 90.61 at the Norwegian champions, far and away the finest throw in the world this year and will be difficult to beat. Among the qualifiers, 2003 World champion Sergey Makarov is the closest this season at 87.12, the 38-year-old's best throw since 2007.
Pearson ready for the next step up?
Sally Pearson wasted little time to show she mean’s business in Daegu. The Australian sizzled to a 12.53 win in the opening round yesterday, leaving just two possibilities about the Olympic silver medallist’s form: did she simply go too fast in the opener, or, does she have plenty left in the tank? She’s the world leader at 12.48 and hasn’t lost a race this season.
The semis are at 19:15 local time, the final at 21:00.
Kirdyapkin chasing title No. 3
Action kicks off on the streets of Daegu at 8 am with the men's 50Km Rae Walk. Defending Champion Sergey Kirdyapkin will be gunning for a third title, and will have to beat compatriot Sergey Bakulin, the world leader at 3:38:46, and World record holder Denis Nizhegorodov to get it.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF