Bershawn Jackson in the 400m hurdles at the IAAF World Championships (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: men’s 400m hurdles – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

The 2015 world lists see US hurdlers occupy five of the top six places and any of the quartet that will go to their blocks in Beijing – Bershawn Jackson, Johnny Dutch, Michael Tinsley and Kerron Clement – could conceivably take the gold medal.

The favourite has to be the 2005 world champion and current US champion Jackson, who ran the world-leading time of 48.09 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha back in May.

Jackson, now 32, also won at high-quality IAAF Diamond League races in Lausanne and Monaco and has so far only suffered one defeat over the barriers this season, when finishing second to Dutch at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene.

Dutch was the 2008 world junior silver medallist but has yet to make the podium at a major senior international championships. Indeed, he has only been to the one previous major event since leaving his teens, the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin where he made the semi-finals, but stands a good chance of also doing well.

Sometimes an erratic performer, as shown by his most recent IAAF Diamond League outings when he finished third in Monaco and then seventh in London, nevertheless Dutch can also run quickly when he gets his strides right and has a personal best of 47.63 as well as  a season’s best of 48.13, which was set when winning in Rome.

By comparison, 2013 world silver medallist Tinsley is a lot more consistent and was the 2014 Diamond Race winner.

This year has been less impressive than last summer but he got a big boost to his confidence by winning his last race ahead of the championships, his first victory over any distance this year, at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London four weeks ago.

Clement, Jackson’s successor as the 2007 and 2009 world champion, has run 48.44 this year and although he was fourth at the recent Pan American Games, he can still be considered a legitimate a medal contender, although probably the least-favoured of the US athletes on current form.

The race for places on the podium extends beyond the USA, although it might not include Trinidad and Tobago’s defending champion Jehue Gordon, who has had an indifferent year and so far failed to break 49 seconds, his only wins this summer coming in local meetings in Port of Spain.

Switzerland’s European champion Kariem Hussein won his national title in a personal best of 48.45 two weeks ago and is clearly rounding into form at exactly the right time.

Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson is also a man who knows how to get things right when it counts, with two world silver medals to his name from 2009 and 2011.

Like Hussein, he will come to Beijing confident of his chances after winning the NACAC title in Costa Rica two weeks ago and the silver medal at the Pan American Games two weeks before that.

There will also be a lot of interest in how Kenya’s Nicholas Bett performs. He won the recent Kenyan Trials in 48.29 at high altitude in Nairobi to place third on the 2015 world list but it should be noted that he has never broken 49 seconds at sea level, his best of 49.03 coming when he finished third at last year’s Commonwealth Games.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF