A delighted Ladji Doucouré of France celebrates winning gold in the 110m Hurdles (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview

Hurdles Preview – World Athletics Final

MonteCarloThe third edition of the IAAF World Athletics Final takes place in Monaco on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 September, while the Hammer Throw competitions, will be held in Szombathely, Hungary this Saturday (3 Sep), due to technical constraints within the Stade Louis II. In the third of this week’s series of event category previews, we now bring you are insight into the HURDLES.

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The start-list of the World Athletics Final is decided according to the IAAF World Rankings, with athletes who are in the top 7 positions (11 positions for the races of 1500m and over) in each event automatically qualifying.

The date upon which the IAAF Rankings are calculated with respect to the World Athletics Final, is after the final TDK Golden League meeting of the season in Berlin on Sunday 4 September.

Consequently, our previews are as accurate as possible given that no one can predict the results which might occur during the course of this week or if an athlete will be available or fit enough to compete.

Click here for the current IAAF World Rankings

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HURDLES

Men's 110m Hurdles

The men’s high hurdles produced some of the finest, closest and unpredictable races in 2005, so making it one of the key attractions at this year’s World Athletics Final. Week in and week out, the world’s top hurdlers faced each other, with no one displaying clear dominance.

Ladji Doucouré came closest however, losing just one race en route to claiming the World title. With three of the season’s six fastest performances, including his world-leading 12.97, the 22-year-old Frenchman lived up to and exceeded the potential he displayed last season.

Defending World Athletics Final winner, Allen Johnson got off to a fast start with his 12.99 win at the U.S. championships, but didn’t win a TDK Golden League race until he arrived in Brussels on 26 August. But ever the competitor, the four-time World champion fought his way to another medal in Helsinki where he finished third.

Despite just missing a medal in Helsinki, U.S. championships runner-up Dominique Arnold has been a force in virtually every race this season, with wins in Rome’s Golden Gala and the Super Grand Prix in Sheffield and narrow runner-up finishes in Zurich and Brussels.

Olympic gold medallist Liu Xiang, who raced to silver in Helsinki, may be too busy with his Asian and domestic commitments to make the trip to Monaco. Somewhat overshadowed by the big four is Jamaican Maurice Wignall, fourth in the Olympics last year, who was runner-up to Johnson in Monaco last September; and Olympic silver medallist Terrence Trammell, who despite several fast races, will look for his first major win of the year in Monaco.


Men's 400m Hurdles

After missing the Olympic Games last season, Bershawn Jackson ended 2004 on a high note, winning in Monaco a year ago with a 47.86 personal best to cap his first international season. This time, the 22-year-old Miami native returns as World champion, and is now the hunted instead of being the hunter. With just one loss this year in 11 competitions and seven of the year’s 14 sub-48 second performances, Jackson is clearly the man to beat.

Veteran James Carter assembled one of his finest seasons, capped with a silver medal in Helsinki with a 47.43 personal best. With a pair of TDK Golden League wins in Paris and Rome -with Jackson absent - Carter displayed his big race mettle. Last year, he finished second in Monaco.

U.S. champion Kerron Clement, still just 19, won the always-difficult U.S. championships with a blazing 47.24, the fastest time of the year. His post-domestic campaign was less dazzling, but he did fight his way to a fourth place finish in Helsinki from the narrow confines of the inside lane.

While not as consistent as the American trio, Japan’s Dai Tamesue notched a season’s best when it mattered most, a 48.10 to claim his second World championship bronze medal. Bayano Kamani, who took home wins in Lausanne and at the Helsinki Grand Prix, joined the event’s sub-48 second elite in the semi-finals at the World Championships with his 47.84 Panamanian record.


Women's 100m Hurdles

A year ago, Michelle Perry was just one of several, competitive, middle or back of the pack, hurdlers who was perhaps better known as a heptathlete. This year, the 26-year-old UCLA grad made a stunning breakthrough to the top of her discipline, winning all but three of her 13 competitions so far, including the World Championship. Her world leading 12.43 personal best from the U.S. championships elevated Perry into a tie as the 11th fastest hurdler ever. With that sort of momentum, she’ll be difficult to beat in Monaco.

Olympic champion Joanna Hayes’ post-Olympic season can be likened to that of Perdita Felicien’s follow-up to her 2003 campaign in which she won the World title: the most vivid memory will be her dramatic disqualification in the year’s biggest race. Yet despite her Helsinki disappointment, Hayes, the defending World Athletics Final winner, has performed admirably, with three big race wins and a 12.47 season’s best, the second fastest in the world.

Others in the hunt include Jamaicans Brigitte Foster-Hylton, who was very competitive throughout the season, leading up to her bronze medal finish in Helsinki, and Delloreen Ennis-London, the Helsinki runner-up. Germany’s Kirsten Bolm has turned in a notable season, one in which she lowered her personal best to 12.59 just two weeks before her fourth place finish in Helsinki.


Women's 400m Hurdles

The battle for supremacy in the women’s full lap hurdles has been fiercely fought this season with three hurdlers head and shoulders above the rest: Americans Lashinda Demus and Sandra Glover and Russian Yuliya Pechonkina.

In a thrilling Helsinki final, Pechonkina, the World record holder, beat the American duo to the line with a world-leading 52.90, with Demus (53.27) and Glover (53.32) producing personal bests. Pechonkina only raced domestically until the World Championships, but followed up with a 53.30 victory in Zurich with the Americans following.

But in their last meeting, Demus returned the favour in Brussels, with Glover second and Pechonkina third. Pechonkina won five of her six competitions thus far this season, Demus nine of 12 competitions, Glover 10 of 18. A spectacular tussle between the trio will be another highlight in Monaco.
 
European Cup winner Anna Jesien of Poland leads the best of the rest. Jesien lowered her personal best and national record to 53.96 this season, and in her last three races, including the World championship final, finished fourth behind the big three.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

Both men’s races are scheduled for Saturday, 10 September,, while the women’s races are split among the two days: the full lap on Friday 9 and the sprint hurdles on Saturday 10.

Information regarding the two 3000m Steeplechase races will follow later, as part of our middle distance preview story.