London Calling (musical accompaniment courtesy The Clash)
Five short years after hosting the Olympics, London will again be the center of the track and field universe as it hosts the 2017 IAAF World Championships. Wow, and we’re even kicking West Ham United out of their home stadium to do it – track trumping soccer, imagine that. The event will run from Friday August 4th through Sunday August 13th. We’ll leave more detailed previews to other publications. Form charts are available from Track and Field News and the IAAF is doing a nice preview series at their website (links at bottom).
Instead, we will do our usual AthleteBiz-centric thing and look at the ABer’s who will be competing in London. We have 21 athletes slated to participate – 16 women and 5 men. It’s a diverse group in age and world championships/Olympic experience. Some are expected to compete for medals, some may surprise and all are happy to be there. Let’s take a look at the entries.
Tori Bowie has a chance to repeat her Rio experience and come home with three medals. None will be easy though. In the 100 she’ll have to face Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers (Netherlands), Michelle-Lee Ahye (Trinidad & Tobago), and Murielle Ahoure (Ivory Coast), all who have gone under 11.00 this year. The 200, more in Tori’s wheelhouse this year (her 21.77 still tops the world list), will be competitive as Dafne Schippers will be in that one too along with Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas). Tori’s week concludes with the 4 x 100, where Jamaica will be the primary challenger for the gold. Not out of the question to see a gold or two (or three?!?) for Bowie.
In the category of renewed rivalries, Sandi Morris will again face Katerina Stefanidi for the top spot in the pole vault. Recall how close Sandi was last year to taking the gold in Rio. Just a centimeter difference in their season bests this year. In fact, there’s only four centimeters difference across the top six (adding in Jen Suhr, Eliza McCartney, Yarisley Silva and Holly Bradshaw) so this could be a very competitive event. Sandi has come so close on several occasions so it would be great to take this one.
Don’t Count Us Out
Not listed in the T&FN formcharts, we’re going to add a few other AB medal possibilities. Gwen Berry’s AR bomb of 76.77 still stands as #2 on the world list and her PR is third best among all entries so a good day for Gwen could put her high on the medal stand. Same for Dani Bunch. Her 19.64 stands as #2 on the world list and her PR is in the top five; sounds like a medal candidate to us. Frankly, the two other women throwers – Kara Winger and Whitney Ashley – are close enough to the top that one sweet throw might be enough for a medal for them too. Hmm…two Purdue alums (Winger and Bunch); something in Lafayette’s water?
Then we have Erin Taylor-Talcott in the women’s 50k walk. This is the first time the event has been contested at the World Championships and there are just seven entries due to a very strict 4:30:00 qualifying standard. Erin’s season best and PR put her fifth in the list. A demanding race but the possibility is there.
What’s A Girl Gotta Do to Get a Medal?
There are several others that one would think should be surefire medal contenders but the competition is really tight and some of it is coming from our own team. Take the women’s 800 for example. Brenda Martinez looks in fine form (4:02.75 at Rabat and 1:58.43 in Madrid) and Charlene Lipsey dropped her PR to 1:57.38 but they will have to get past a trio of sub 1:56 performers in Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Ajee’ Wilson. However, last time Charlene raced in London, she won easily; just sayin’.
Charlene Lipsey controls affairs nicely from the front and eases away to victory in 1:59.43 off a 58.3 first 400m in the 800m in London pic.twitter.com/CbZpBvEGth— Costas Goulas (@lsabre_Avenger) July 12, 2017
Same thing in the 100 hurdles. Christina Manning has a solid season best of 12:58 that puts her 7th on the world list. Sub 12.60 doesn’t buy what it used to. The 400H is no better. Kori Carter’s PR 52.96 is number four among the entries and Cassandra Tate is in a big group with season bests of mid-54. All have a shot given their quality but they all could run really well and not medal.
On the Plane
Did we mention that there a male ABers going to London? Michael Stigler (welcome to AB Michael!) brings impressive 48.26 credentials and legitimate medal hopes to the 400H field.
Johnny Gregorek has a 3:35:00 PR this season and a good shot of reaching the final. Same for Ryan Hill in the 5,000; if he’s there going into the last lap don’t bet against him. Jeff Henderson’s season best doesn’t look real competitive but he has an Olympic gold medal at home as evidence that he can bring it on competition day. And Donald Scott stands 8th in the triple jump list so he should make it through qualifying to the final.
The dynamic duo of Maria Michta-Coffey and Miranda Melville will be competing in the 20k walk. Sara Vaughn surprised (and delighted) almost everyone when she made the USA team. Could she surprise again at Worlds?!? Sharon Day-Monroe shared with us that she’s very fit and ready to take on the heptathlon field.
Viewing on Your Favorite Electronic Device
NBCSN will have most of the action, especially for the weekdays. NBC will chip in with coverage on both Saturdays and Sundays.
Not saying I’m getting up at 5 am to see the morning sessions but I’ll be taking in as much of the coverage as I can.