Over the first nine days of 2019, we are taking a look at nine things we’re really looking forward to as we enter another IAAF World Athletics Championships year.
We've looked at some returning stars and some emerging stars. We also examined some of the world records that could fall in 2019 and then moved on to key head-to-heads, technology innovations, a return to true cross country, and excitement on the roads.
Today we focus on...
The countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
IAAF World Relays
For the first time since the event started in 2014, the IAAF World Relays will be held outside of The Bahamas as Yokohama took up the baton for the 2019 staging of the event.
Not only will it be a good test run for the host country of the next Olympics but, being just a one-hour train ride away from Tokyo, it will be the ideal opportunity for the world’s top sprinters and relay runners to familiarise themselves with the surroundings ahead of the Games in 2020.
World converges in Asia
As is often the case at a World Championships preceding an Olympic Games, several breakthrough performances can be expected in Doha. And it won’t be just the medallists; look further down the fields at athletes who have taken great strides in 2019. They could be the ones timing their peak for Tokyo 10 months later.
Speaking of warm-ups, the climate during the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 won’t be too dissimilar to the conditions expected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, making it another good test ahead of the world’s biggest sporting event.
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Rise of Japan
Japanese athletes have certainly been stepping up their game in recent years ahead of their home Olympics.
They won two gold medals at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018, they bagged a record medal haul at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships Taicang 2018, and they continue to impress with their staggering depth in road running events.
Who can forget Yuki Kawauchi’s triumph at the 2018 Boston Marathon? Suguru Osako, meanwhile, broke the Asian marathon record in Chicago just a few months ago.
Expect more standout performances from Japanese athletes throughout 2019 as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games draws ever closer.