Gong Lijiao wins the shot put at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Doha, Qatar

Preview: women's shot put - IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

After another nearly flawless season, Gong Lijiao arrives primed to successfully defend her title. If she succeeds, the 30-year-old Chinese star will become just the fourth woman to do so in the event.

Gong has won 12 of her 13 competitions in 2019 and has produced the four best throws, capped by her 20.31m effort to win another IAAF Diamond League title, her third straight, in Zurich last month. With a gap of more than 60 centimetres on her nearest competitor, Gong will start as one of the heaviest favourites at these championships. A medal of any kind will be her sixth at the World Championships, a record for the event.

Her only loss came at the hand of rising US star Chase Ealey, who stole Gong's thunder in their 2019 Diamond League debut in Shanghai, where Ealey reached a near-PB 19.58m to beat Gong by 14 centimetres. The 25-year-old blasted on to the scene on 6 April when she threw 19.67m at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Arizona, her first put beyond the 19-metre mark. She went on to throw beyond 19 metres in nine of her next 12 competitions, and improved to 19.68m in Zurich, where she eventually finished second.

World indoor silver medallist Danniel Thomas-Dodd is another solid medal threat. The 26-year-old twice improved her own Jamaican record, first to 19.48m in April and again to 19.55m in August when taking the Pan-American Games title. While improving, she has been less consistent than Ealey.

Behind that trio, the picture is less clear. Five other women have thrown beyond 19 metres outdoors this season, Maggie Ewen, another US thrower on the rise, the most recent. The 25-year-old produced the best throw of her career, 19.48m, to win the US-Europe match on 10 September. But that was the only 19-metre-plus effort of the season for the multi-talented thrower who won NCAA titles in the shot put, discus and hammer during her collegiate career.

Christina Schwanitz, the 2015 world champion, is still showing solid form, and can't be discounted in the chase for podium spots. The 33-year-old German has reached 19.37m this season.

Brittany Crew (19.28m) of Canada, Aliona Dubitskaya (19.21m) and Sweden's Fanny Roos (19.06m) have also breached 19 metres this season but will have to produce breakout performances to be a factor.

Others to watch include Hungary's world indoor champion Anita Marton, European champion Paulina Guba of Poland, and Olympic champion Michelle Carter of the US.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF