One of the host nation’s biggest medal hopefuls, Gong Lijiao, is set to take on the world leader from Germany, Christina Schwanitz.
Dominant Kiwi Valerie Adams, who has the gold medals of the past four World Championships to her name, will not be defending her title in Beijing.
Adams underwent shoulder and elbow surgeries in September. And even though she has already returned to action on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, the New Zealander admitted that more work and rehab were needed for a major level comeback.
Another notable absence in Beijing is Russia’s Olympic silver medallist Evgeniya Kolodko, who is recovering after a wrist surgery. But the competition definitely won’t lack in intensity.
Gong returns to the Bird’s Nest seven years after placing fifth in the Olympic final as a junior. This time, the Chinese thrower, who has since won an Olympic and two World Championships bronze medals, looks poised for success on home soil.
Gong is coming into the competition with a season’s best of 20.34m, just one centimetre off her personal best set in 2009. But she might need to step up her game to hold off Schwanitz.
The German, who took bronze in Moscow two years ago, has seven of the top 10 marks in the world this year. Her world-leading PB of 20.77m, set in May, was achieved at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.
The all-time head-to-head record between these two athletes is even at 9-9, but in 2015 it’s 3-2 in Schwanitz’s favour. Gong is the only athlete to have defeated her this summer.
USA’s Michelle Carter is another strong medal contender. The 2012 world indoor bronze medallist finished fourth at the 2013 World Championships and fifth at the London 2012 Olympics. But major outdoor medals have eluded Carter so far. This season, the 29-year-old is third on the world list with her 20.02m winning throw from the US Championships.
Trinidad and Tobago’s experienced Cleopatra Borel has had a busy season with the Pan American Games on her agenda coming into Beijing. She went to Toronto as a favourite, having posted a season’s best of 19.26m in the beginning of July, and she did not disappoint, winning her first Pan American title with 18.67m.
Hungary’s Anita Marton hasn’t recorded a 19-metre throw this summer yet, but she is coming off of the successful indoor season, which culminated in the European indoor title. She might be more of an underdog in Beijing, but the 26-year-old often produces her best performances at major championships.
Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF