David Oliver in the mens 110m Hurdles Final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: men’s 110m hurdles – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

In the absence of world leader Orlando Ortega, David Oliver will start a tentative favourite in his bid to mount a successful defence of the world 110m hurdles title.

Ortega’s decision to switch allegiance from Cuba to Spain means he is ineligible to compete for his new country in Beijing and while weakening the overall strength of the field, it opens up possibilities for others.

Oliver has performed consistently on the circuit this season, recording a best of 12.98 and winning Pan American and US titles as well as IAAF Diamond League races in Shanghai and New York. Yet the experienced 33-year-old will be far from complacent in an event so notoriously prone to mishap.

Oliver’s countryman Olympic champion Aries Merritt should not be discounted. Merritt may be a little shy of the blistering form he showed three years ago when setting the world 110m hurdles record, but with a season’s best of 13.12 and boasting a wealth of experience, he too can be a factor.

The four-strong US team is completed by major championship debutants Aleec Harris and Ronnie Ash, who both possess the raw talent to feature.

The fastest in the field for 2015 is Jamaican breakout star Omar McLeod. The 21-year-old secured the NCAA title in June in 13.01 and then trimmed a further 0.04 from that to land his national title. He is untested on the global stage but his record so far this season demands the utmost respect.

McLeod’s compatriot Hansle Parchment, the Olympic bronze medallist, has raced sparingly in 2015 but with a season’s best of 13.08 is another danger.  Commonwealth champion Andrew Riley completes a powerful Jamaican contingent in this event.

France boasts a powerful three-pronged challenge in this event, led by 2014 Diamond Race winner Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. The man known as PML was an impressive winner in Eugene in 13.06 and must be viewed as a realistic gold medal contender. National champion and world indoor bronze medallist Garfield Darien and European indoor silver medallist Dimitri Bascou are also entered.

Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov has frequently proved a dangerous championship performer and for that reason alone must be considered a factor. The two-time European champion and 2013 world bronze medallist is also bang in form after powering to a national record of 13.06 in Paris.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Mikel Thomas and Shane Brathwaite of Barbados – the men who claimed the silver and bronze medals behind Oliver at the Pan American Games – are also entered. Look out for home favourite Xie Wenjun, the Asian champion. He sprang a surprise to win the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai last year in a personal best of 13.23.

Steve Landells for the IAAF