Friday evening’s session of the IAAF World Championships here at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow could be the Allyson Felix show, but nothing gets a crowd excited like a relay, and Mo Farah, two sets of throwers, and the ever-popular Long Jump are all on the schedule alongside Felix’s 200m final.
Felix is contesting her sixth consecutive championships starting in 2003 and, at age 27, is looking like she could take another six after her qualifying-round 22.59, the fastest of the first heat. Felix will likely face a pair of 100m medallists, gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and silver medallist Murielle Ahoure, not to mention triple threat Blessing Okagbare, but Fraser-Pryce might be most dangerous, particularly coming off her dominating 100m victory.
The men’s 4x400m relay should be the USA’s race to lose, with the fastest time of the qualifying round (2:59.85) and with Olympic champions Bahamas left behind in the rounds. Joining them will be heat winners Jamaica (3:00.41) and Russia (3:01.81). Trinidad and Tobago, who ran 3:00.50 behind the USA in the second of three heats, also has eyes on a medal.
Mo Farah, no problems
After completing his set of titles with his first 10,000m World title last Saturday evening, Mo Farah will return this Friday to defend his 5000m title from 2011. The 10,000m gave a picture of a Farah with all the tools necessary to finish this mission, from a perfect tactical sense to the blistering closing speed which has been the essential ingredient of recent championship races.
Farah even engineered his qualifying heat to ensure his training partner, Galen Rupp, joined him in the final, and Rupp will doubtless be an important piece in the continuing chess game Farah plays with his friendly Kenyan and Ethiopian rivals. His principal challenger in this race is likely to be Edwin Soi, himself so well known as a kicker that he once joked about posing a threat to Kenya’s 200m runners.
What to say about a final where the Olympic champion writes himself off after the qualifying round? According to Tomasz Majewski, Ryan Whiting is just too good to be beaten this year in the Shot Put. That remains to be seen; Majewski, after all, essentially made his name as a thrower who could produce efforts in championship competition which he’d never see in a one-day meet.
What is clear is that Whiting, who has the best mark this year among all the finalists, has convinced his rivals that he’s unbeatable, and maybe that’s enough.
Lysenko ready to swing the Hammer
With the early exit of World record-holder Betty Heidler, the women’s Hammer will have a Russian favourite in the form of defending champion Tatyana Lysenko, whose 78.15m mark is the best among the finalists this year.
In position to challenge Lysenko is 2009 World champion Anita Wlodarczyk and Lysenko’s countrywoman Oksana Kondrateva, whose form makes it possible, perhaps even likely, that the host nation will see two medals in this event.
It was a challenging Long Jump qualifying round this year, with the Olympic champion among others not advancing to the final, but of those who survived, Luis Rivera and Aleksandr Menkov have been most impressive this year. Menkov will have the crowd on his side; Rivera will be looking for Mexico’s first medal in a field event.
Other action on Friday includes qualifying in the morning for the women’s Javelin Throw, men’s Triple Jump, and round one of the women’s 100m Hurdles and the men’s 200m, as well as the women’s 4x400m relay. Semi-finals for the men’s 1500m and 200m and the women’s 800m will be held during the evening session.
Parker Morse for the IAAF