Chinese race walker Liu Hong (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Five expected highlights on day 7 – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

Five finals and the first half of the decathlon are on the agenda for Friday at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015. 

Here is a list of things you don’t want to miss.

1. Women’s 20km race walk

The race walk will start the morning off at the Olympic Park. Hundreds and hundreds of local fans are expected to be along the course, waiting for anything between a gold medal and a top-three sweep from the Chinese trio.

Experienced Liu Hong, who already has three medals from the last three IAAF World Championships, but not a gold, is in the shape of her life after setting a world record of 1:24:38 in the Spanish city of La Coruna back in June and is arguably China's best bet for a title at these championships.

The second fastest in the field with 1:25:12 is her teammate Lu Xiuzhu. With the number three Chinese walker, Nie Jingjing, having broken 1:28 this season, it will be interesting to see whether other countries have something, indeed anything, in store to counter the host nation.

Watch out for Italy’s Eleonora Georgi, who had gained a victory and achieved two second place finishes the IAAF Race Walking Challenge events this year.

Another strong contender is Czech Republic’s Anezka Drahotova. She placed seventh in Moscow two years ago, at just 18 years old. Now, faster and more experienced, the 2014 world junior 10,000m champion is ready to challenge the again.

2. Women’s long jump

The qualifying competition on Thursday morning was deep, as 6.65m for the first time in history failed to make the final. Serbia’s bronze medallist from the last world championships, Ivana Spanovic, even set a national outdoor record of 6.91m to lead the qualifiers.

Hopefully, we will witness some jumps over seven metres.

The world leader Tianna Bartoletta has already surpassed this mark earlier in the season with 7.12m, but is the only one.

However, six other athletes in the field, including Barlotella’s training partner Darya Klishina (6.95m), Canada’s Christabel Nettey (6.99m) and Great Britain’s Shara Proctor (6.98m) have been extremely close.

The three-time defending champion Brittney Reese didn’t advance to the final, so a new champion will be crowned. Maybe her US colleague Bartoletta, who was then known as Tianna Madison, will regain her crown from 2005?

3. Women’s 200m

The world junior champion from Great Britain, Dina Asher-Smith, impressed by running the fastest time in the semi-finals, a personal-best of 22.12.

The top Jamaican challenger, Elaine Thomspon, was just 0.01 slower last night.

The 100m silver medallist on Monday, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, ran 22.36 in her semi-final, but don’t let the numbers fool you. The Dutchwoman looked supreme and could afford to jog through the last 30 metres, which she did.

Add two more Jamaicans and two American sprinters to the mix, and you get a guaranteed tough battle with a possible sub-22 outcome.

4. Men's 110m and women's 100m hurdles

The USA’s world record holder and London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist Aries Merritt and Russia’s 2013 world championships bronze medallist and two-time European champion Sergey Shubenkov were almost flawless in the 110m hurdles semifinals, running 13.08 and 13.09 respectively.

Merritt’s compatriot, defending champion David Oliver, conversely crushed two hurdles and narrowly lost to France’s Dimitri Bascou who, despite hitting knocking one hurdle down, ran a personal best of 13.16.

These four athletes look poised to not only fight for podium, but also to dip under 13 seconds, which would be a personal best in the case of the two Europeans

Female hurdlers will have to go through semi-finals first, before the eight qualifiers line up for the main race.

The first round of the competition on Thursday didn’t bring about any major departures so we still might be looking at a clean sweep by Team USA, with their four representatives, Sharika Nelvis, Dawn Harper Nelson, Kendra Harrison and the defending champion Brianna Rollins, all being among the top five quickest women in the world this season.

5. Decathlon

The first five events for Friday are the 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m.

The world record holder Ashton Eaton hasn’t completed a decathlon since his victorious performance at the world championships in Russia two years ago but the first day looks good for the American.

Eaton has recently set a 400m personal best of 45.55 in the 400m and leapt 8.03m in the long jump. His least favourite event of the day is shot put, where he would need to go over 15 metres to ensure the rivals don’t get too close.

As for the rivals, look for the world champion from 2011 Trey Hardee, who won the USA championships with an impressive tally of 8725 points, as well as for the bronze medallist from Moscow, Canada’s Damian Warner, and 2015 Gotzis victor from Germany, Kai Kazmirek.

Best of the rest

It is always a pleasure to watch some graceful high jumping, so keep your eye on the men’s qualification with last season’s world record challengers Mutaz Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko in action during the morning session.

In the evening, the men’s 1500m continues with the semi-final, while the women javelin throwers have their qualification competition.

Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF