13 MAR 2010 Preview

Doha 2010 - Hooker, Vlasic, Cantwell back in action - Day Two Preview

World and Olympic pole vault champion Steven Hooker of Australia speaks to his coach during qualification in Doha (Getty Images)World and Olympic pole vault champion Steven Hooker of Australia speaks to his coach during qualification in Doha (Getty Images) © Copyright

The schedule is divided into two sections, but don't expect any significant break in the competition Saturday. The World Indoor Championships picks up at Doha's Aspire Dome at 09:00 AST with the 60m Hurdles for the women's Pentathlon, and continues straight through to the women's 60m Hurdles final almost eleven hours later.

With the bulk of the rounds finished off Friday, nearly every event will be a final, the exceptions being men's 4x400m relay heats, the semi-final round of the men's 800m, and semi-finals of the short races (the hurdles and the men's 60m) with finals later in the evening.

Combined Events conclude

The morning will be full of Pentathlon and Heptathlon. With four events complete in the Heptathlon, Bryan Clay holds a tenuous lead, but as a strong hurdler he can be expected to extend it in the 60m Hurdles. Then he needs only hold on through the Pole Vault and the 1000m in the evening to defend his World title. He'll not have an easy time of it, with at least five of the seven remaining heptathletes in range of gold.

Jessica Ennis is expected to dominate the Pentathlon, but she's not the only Berlin medallist with designs on a medal. With five chances for total disaster to be navigated over the course of Saturday, Ennis probably hasn't cleared a spot on the mantle for this medal just yet.

The women's 60m Hurdles final looks like a close match between two very different hurdlers, Lolo Jones and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. The friendly rivals have different builds and different styles but are closely matched in ability. Lopes-Schliep had the edge in starting speed in Friday's heats, but Jones's top speed over the barriers could close the gap if it's not too large.

Blanka Vlasic made High Jump qualifying look easy on Friday, but the final can be a chess match and Vlasic has rivals who often play her to the last pieces. To follow the game, pay attention not just to the height of the bar, but who takes more than one attempt at each height - and who dares to pass and face the next higher bar.

Never one to be bested by a game of passes, Steven Hooker required just three jumps to win the World Championships title in Berlin. He qualified for the men's Pole Vault final on Friday with one attempt, but unlike in Berlin, Hooker is uninjured here in Doha, and he's more likely to keep raising the bar until there's nobody left to stop him.

If anyone is going to stop Christian Cantwell in the men's Shot Put, it might just be Ralf Bartels. Bartels had the longest mark in Friday's qualifying rounds - like Cantwell, his first and only attempt flying well beyond the automatic qualifying mark - and now that they've already reached the final both men are more likely to push the limits of their ability rather than merely try to get a qualifying mark. Cantwell has had his eye on the Shot Put World record for years, and Bartels might push him to it.

Defar Vs Cheruiyot

Meseret Defar is the fastest woman in the world over 3000m, but on Saturday she'll face the woman who knows best how to beat her, Vivian Cheruiyot. Cheruiyot was the 5000m champion in Berlin, and like Defar she will plan strategy in cooperation with a team-mate. Cheruiyot can't afford to wait for Defar to kick, but can she run away from the woman who holds the World record?

The only event with two rounds on Friday will have its finals on Saturday, with both the men's and women's 400m finals on the track. Unlike the outdoor race, the indoor 400m breaks its athletes out of their lanes after 150m and lets them fight for their own running room, but it also puts only six athletes on the track so a runner needs only beat three others in the final to earn a medal, rather than five.

The entire competition will benefit if Deresse Mekonnen brings his cheering section from Friday back for Saturday's 1500m final. The raucous Ethiopian section showed the whole stadium what a home crowd should feel like as though Mekonnen was running in Addis Ababa. There were surprises in the lower places in the 1500m heats, however, and Mekonnen will need every ounce of energy he can draw from his chanting supporters to defend his title.

Also on tap for Saturday are the leaping Aussies who put their stamp on the men's Long Jump, and a wide-open field in the women's Triple Jump.

Parker Morse for the IAAF