USA's Jeffery Henderson in the long jump (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: men’s long jump – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

It may be his first outdoor global championships, but Jeffery Henderson heads to Beijing as the marginal favourite in the long jump.

The 26-year-old has been among the world’s elite since only 2013, when he jumped 8.22m at the US Championships, his first leap beyond the eight-metre barrier.

In previous years, he has twice missed out on making the final at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, but did well at the recent Pan American Games where he won the title with a wind-aided 8.54m, also jumping a world-leading 8.52m within his series.

The longest jump of the season under any conditions belongs to fellow US jumper Marquis Dendy, who won the US Championships with a wind-assisted 8.68m, also recording an 8.39m PB in the same competition.

The 22-year-old will be contesting his second World Championships, having finished 27th in qualifying in Moscow two years ago. Dendy, also a 17.50m triple jumper this season, has won a total of seven NCAA titles between 2013 and 2015.

Defending champion Aleksandr Menkov is entered as well, but the Russian this year has been unable to match the kind of form that brought him gold in Moscow two years ago with an 8.56m personal best. The 24-year-old has competed sparingly in 2015, reaching a season’s best of 8.27m in Shanghai in May and then an 8.26m victory at the European Team Championships in Cheboksary in June.

There is also a strong South African trio, including 2009 world silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena. Mokoena’s best this season is 8.16m, but his two compatriots have jumped farther. Zarck Visser is second on the world list with 8.41m in Bad Langensalza in July and Rushwal Samaai fourth with his winning 8.38m jump at the National Championships back in April, but both have not matched those results lately.

Instead, the top name to challenge the US trio is a familiar one: Greg Rutherford.

The Olympic and European champion is yet to reach the podium at the World Championships, where his best finish is fifth back in 2009, but his recent jumping suggests this will change in Beijing. The 28-year-old has been consistent throughout the season and his latest competition, a win at the Stockholm IAAF Diamond League meeting at the end of July, underlined this. Rutherford won with a fine 8.34m jump in cool conditions, with Dendy back in second place with 8.09m.

There are also Chinese hopes in this event, but Li Jinzhe’s form has dropped slightly compared to the past two seasons. The 25-year-old finished 12th in Moscow, followed by a silver at the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Sopot and a 8.47m national record outdoors the same season, but in 2015 his best jump is 8.26m.

The next generation of Chinese long jumpers will be on display with 18-year-old Wang Jianan in the competition. The world junior champion jumped an 8.25m Asian junior record in May.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF