Cuban Dayron Robles is the Olympic champion. Photo: PhotoRun.net
USA's Kerron Clement is the Olympic champion. Photo: PhotoRun.net
Poland's Anna Jesien has been consistent all season. Photo: PhotoRun.net
Kenyan Paul Koech is one of the most consistent steeplers in the world. Photo: PhotoRun.net
Jenny Barringer signs with New Balance. Photo: PhotoRun.net
The final of our series of previews is the hurdle events. There are some great battles in all three hurdling disciplines, as well as some great American hopes throughout the various disciplines. Most intriguing will be the potential of American Jenny Barringer in the women’s steeplechase. Barringer has run incredibly well all season and set personal bests up and down the board. This will be her first true test at the distance all year and it will be fun to watch what she can do. Don’t miss out on these events and be sure to always look in one of the far lanes in the short hurdles because you never know who may sneak up for a medal.
Men’s 110m Hurdles
Reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba is the undeniable favorite in the men’s 110m hurdles. Robles hasn’t lost this year and without Chinese great Liu Xiang in the field, Robles stands in a category above his competitors. Two-time world silver medalist Terrence Trammell of the US seems to have hit his stride this year and could certainly contend. Americans David Payne, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist, and Aries Merritt, former world junior champion, have run very well and are almost certain for the final. Outside of the US contingent, islanders Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados and Dwight Thomas of Jamaica have shown promise and have set personal bests in 2009. When it comes down to it, unless Robles stumbles like Lolo Jones in 2008, the race is for silver and bronze.
Competitor.com says: 1. Dayron Robles (CUB), 2. Terrence Trammel (USA), 3. David Payne (USA)
Women’s 100m Hurdles
Without season leader Lolo Jones of the US in the field, due to her implosion at the American trials, this race is wide open for a number of athletes to take. Leading the way is Australian Olympic sliver medalist Sally McLellan. The lady from Down Under has run brilliantly thus far in 2009, setting a personal best of 12.50 in Monaco as well as taking big wins in London and Lousanne. Standing in McLellan’s way is (besides a bunch of hurdles) Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper of the US. Harper won the US trials in a wind-aided 12.36, the fastest all-conditions time this year. Fellow Americans Damu Cherry and Ginnie Powell have also looked good throughout the year, Cherry having won two Golden League races. Coming from just north of the American border, Canadians Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felician are certain to be in the mix if they reach the final. Lopes-Schliep is the Olympic bronze medalist and Felician is the world champion from 2003. As we have become accustomed to now, we cannot look past Jamaican women in a short race on the track. Jamaicans Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Dolloreen Ennis-London have proven they are true contenders, as both have posted times that land them in the top 10 on the 2009 list, both ahead of American Ginnie Powell.
Competitor.com says: 1. Sally McLellan (AUS), 2. Dawn Harper (USA), 3. Damu Cherry (USA)
Men’s 400m Hurdles
Recent history shows complete dominance in the men’s 400m hurdles by Americans. Americans Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson, all of whom will be in Berlin, swept the Beijing Olympics. Clement is the defending world champion and holds the fourth-fastest time of the year at 48.09. 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson has been looking solid all season with a best of 47.98. Clement has yet to break the 48.00 barrier this year, although he has four Grand Prix wins to his credit and looks ready to roll in Berlin. Reigning Olympic champion Angelo Taylor hasn’t had an amazing race this year but is still a threat with two Olympic gold medals in his trophy case. Looking to break up the American sweep is world leader LJ van Zyl of South Africa. Unproven on the international scene, van Zyl hopes to finally take a medal at a major championship and prove the best hurdlers are not all from the US. Jamaican Isa Phillips has run well, posting a time of 48.05, third-fastest in 2009, and will likely be in the running off the seventh hurdle. A wild card here is going to be two-time world champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic. Sanchez has looked shaky at best this year, but he is widely considered one of the best championship runners ever at this event, so it’s hard to count him out if he is able to last through the rounds.
Competitor.com says: 1. Bershawn Jackson (USA), 2. Kerron Clement (USA), 3. Isa Phillips (JAM)
Women’s 400m Hurdles
World leader Lashinda Demus of the US looks poised to take the title in the women’s 400m hurdles. Demus has run the top three fastest times this year and has run 1.32 seconds faster than anyone in the world this year. World number-two Angela Morosanu of Romania looked stellar at her national championships and is a threat with her new personal best time of 53.95. Morosanu has had little international success, which will likely benefit the likes of reigning Olympic champion Melaine Walker of Jamaica. Walker has had a moderately successful season with a best of 54.20, which is still well off her personal best of 52.64 from the Olympics. Americans Sheena Tosta, Olympic silver medalist, and Tiffany Williams, winner in Lausanne, have looked good all season and can run with the top women in the world. Other women to look for off the final turn are Anastasiya Rabchenyuk of Ukraine and Anna Jesien of Poland, both top-five finishers in Beijing last year. One huge wild card comes in the way of two-time and defending world champion Jana Pittman-Rawlinson of Australia. In a similar situation to Sanchez in the men’s race, Pittman-Rawlinson has looked off her game thus far in 2009, but it would not be shocking to see her find form when it really counts.
Competitor.com says: 1. Lashinda Demus (USA), 2. Tiffany Williams (USA), 3. Angela Morosanu (ROM)
Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
The men’s 3000m steeplechase is probably the event that has been dominated by one nation more than any other. That country is Kenya. Kenyan men have won all but two medals in world and Olympic competition over the past four years. Kenya will bring four men to the line, including reigning Olympic and world champion Brimin Kipruto, world leader and 2004 Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, reigning Olympic and world bronze medalist Richard Mateelong and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Paul Koech. Mateelong has looked the least impressive in 2009 with a season-best 8:13.35 leaving him no less than ten seconds slower than his compatriots. Kemboi leads the world (7:58.85), and fellow countryman Koech, by three seconds, but to call him the favorite is tough. Looking to break up the Kenyan sweep will be the French duo of Bouabdellah Tahri and Mahiedine Mekhisi-Benabbad. Mekhisi-Benabbad is the reigning Olympic silver medalist and has raced well this season. Tahri is the new French and European record holder with his clocking of 8:02.19, and certainly a contender for a medal. Not to be dismissed are 2009 top-five performer Tareq Maubarak Taher of Bahrain, Roba Gary of Ethiopia and Mustafa Mohamed of Sweeden.
Competitor.com says: 1. Ezekial Kemboi (KEN), 2. Paul Koech (KEN), 3. Brimin Kipruto (KEN)
Women’s 3000m Steeplechase
Reigning Olympic champion and world record holder Gulnara Galkina-Samitova of Russia has looked good all season and there is no reason to think she cannot continue her winning ways in Berlin. Galkina-Samitova, however, is not coming in to the meeting with the fastest time of the season. Spaniard Marta Dominguez, who blazed to a 9:09.39 personal best in Barcelona in late July, holds that honor. Dominguez is a two-time silver medalist at the world championships in the 5000m, and clearly knows how to compete at the championship level. Threats to the top two women come primarily from Galkina-Samitova’s countrywomen. Yekaterina Volkova is the defending world champion, and the only woman to have ever defeated Galkina-Samitova at the distance. Teammate Yuliya Zarudneva is the national champion and has run a very impressive 9:13.18 personal best this year. A true dark-horse contender, although not to those of us in the US, is American Jenny Barringer. Barringer has set personal bests at every flat event from 800m-5000m this season. She is the American record holder (9:22.26) from 2008 and was a finalist in Beijing. With her range and utter overall dominance in her races this year, including a victory at 5000m in Stockholm, it would be remiss to think of Barringer as anything but a medal contender. Kenyan Eunice Jepkorir leads the African contingent, as she proved her championship abilities last year as the Olympic silver medalist.
Competitor.com says: 1. Gulnara Galkina-Samitova (RUS), 2. Yekaterina Volkova (RUS), 3. Jenny Barringer (USA)