Lyu Huihui heads to Doha with one of the longest winning streaks in the sport, but it may be a bit of a stretch to describe her as the overwhelming favourite for the women’s javelin title.
The Chinese thrower has won her past 12 competitions, a streak that includes victories at the IAAF Diamond League final, two other stops on the IAAF Diamond League, and the Asian Championships in Doha back in April.
During that run, Lyu has extended her own world-leading Asian record three times, all on home soil: 67.72m, 67.83m and 67.98m.
But in a field containing 13 other women with PBs in excess of 67 metres, Lyu is by no means a nailed-on certainty for gold.
A global championships javelin final wouldn’t quite be the same without Barbora Spotakova. The double Olympic champion and world record-holder will be seeking a record fourth world javelin title in Doha, having returned to action earlier this year following the birth of her second child.
The 38-year-old has a season’s best of 63.85m, but in a year that has lacked humungous throws, she may not need to be at her absolute best to make it on to the podium.
Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Barber has been the breakthrough performer of the event this year. The Commonwealth silver medallist started the year with a PB of 64.57m but will head to Doha with a best of 67.70m, set in Luzern in July.
Sara Kolak, who in 2016 succeeded Spotakova as Olympic champion, has also returned to competition this year after missing 2018 through injury. Her last competition before the World Championships was a confidence-boosting season’s best of 66.42m to win on home soil in Zagreb.
China’s Liu Shiying is the only woman to have beaten world leader Lyu this year. That competition, where Liu threw 64.04m to Lyu’s 62.66m, happened back in April but she has improved throughout the year and threw a season’s best of 65.82m in her most recent competition.
Liu, who held the Asian record at 66.47m for a brief spell in 2016 before improving to 67.12m in 2017, also beat Lyu on three occasions last year, including at the Asian Games.
European champion Christin Hussong of Germany has enjoyed a solid season so far, topped with a best of 66.59m to win in Lausanne. European silver medallist Nikola Ogrodnikova of the Czech Republic started her season well with a PB of 67.40m but has struggled for consistency since then.
Tatsiana Khaladovich, the 2016 European champion, threw 67.22m in Minsk in June but has also had some mixed results throughout the season.
Inconsistency isn’t always a bad thing, though; after all, it takes just one big throw to win, and this discipline has witnessed numerous surprise medallists at major championships over the past decade. And that’s partly what makes this event difficult to call in Doha.
Other contenders include USA’s Pan-American champion Kara Winger, Japanese record-holder Haruka Kitaguchi, Latvia’s Lina Muze and Turkey’s Eda Tugsuz.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF