Kenya’s current Olympic and World champion David Rudisha is unable to defend his title because of injury which means that the battle for the title, indeed all of the medals, is wide open.
No one has run under 1:43 this year so the mantle of being the marginal favourite falls on the young shoulders of Ethiopia’s 19-year-old 2012 World Indoor Championships winner Mohammed Aman, who is unbeaten in his last six races over the distance.
His roll calls of victories include wins at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Eugene, Rome, Birmingham and Lausanne, as well as at the IAAF World Challenge meetings in Rabat and Ostrava, and he has a comfortable lead in the Diamond race with two races to go.
It was in his last outing, in Lausanne, that he set his season’s best of 1:43.33, less than a second outside his own national record of 1:42.53 from the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich last year.
However, what counts slightly against Aman is the fact that he was unable to raise his game as high as some of his opponents in the phenomenal London final last summer, when Rudisha set a World record, despite running what was then a personal best of 1:43.20.
One of the men who rose to the challenge even better in London was the USA’s Duane Solomon who was to finish fourth in a personal best of 1:42.82 and this year it is Solomon who tops the yearly world list with the 1:43.27 he clocked when winning the US title in June.
Solomon has lost all three of his races to Aman this summer but he is also clearly rounding into form after having to peak once already for the US Championships, when he finished second at the Diamond League meeting in London last month in 1:44.12.
Sandwiched between Solomon and Aman at the Olympics was another US runner, Nick Symmonds, who finished fifth in 1:42.95.
Symmonds lost to Solomon at the US Championships but gained some revenge when he came home in front of him in London in a season’s best of 1:43.67.
New Djibouti talent Ayanleh Souleiman, still only 20, has reduced his national record by almost four seconds in just two races this summer, and is third on the 2013 world list with the 1:43.63 when winning in Sweden in Sollentuna.
However, as the only one of the leading 800m contenders also entered for the 1500m, he may face a dilemma about how best to distribute his energy over the two events.
Another man to catch the eye has been France’s 21-year-old Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, who recently added the European under-23 title to the European junior crown he won two years ago.
Bosse ran a French under-23 record of 1:43.76 in Monaco and could be a surprise medallist, especially in a tactical race.
In the absence of Rudisha and his compatriot, the off-form London bronze medallist Timothy Kitum, Kenyan interests are represented by the trio of Anthony Chemut, Ferguson Cheruiyot and Jeremiah Mutai.
The best of the bunch may be Chemut, the 2012 African Championships silver medallist, but there will be a lot of interest in the 20-year-old Mutai, the 2009 IAAF World Youth Championships 400m Hurdles silver medallist, who is in his first year of serious 800m running.
The only London medallist to be on the World Championships official entry list is Botswana’s Nijel Amos. Amos did win the World University Games title last month but it has since been reported that he is injured and will probably not make it to Moscow.
Similarly, it has recently been reported that 2004 Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy will miss the event due to illness.
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Phil Minshull for the IAAF