Kicking off our full coverage are the previews for the short distance events at the upcoming IAAF World Championships in Berlin. The sprints are always the most explosive events and can sometimes be the most unpredictable. Here is my analysis of the fields, who are the contenders, who may surprise and what I think is going to happen when the smoke clears in Berlin.
The name question here is not just who will win but how fast can the winner run. Coming into the meet Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt will carry an undefeated season, the world record of 9.69 and the expectations of the world to repeat the fireworks he made in Beijing. Looking to take down the Olympic champion will be American Tyson Gay, the defending World champion. Gay has run 9.77 to lead the world this year and is also undefeated in 2009. Both men look primed for a fast race, which could very easily produce a world record. Don’t be surprised to see a world record in an earlier round if conditions are perfect. The race for the third podium spot should be close between Americans Ivory Williams and Michael Rodgers, Jamaican Asafa Powell and Churandy Martina of Netherlands Antillies.
Competitor.com says: 1. Usain Bolt (JAM), 2. Tyson Gay (USA), 3. Churandy Martina (AHO)
Entering the meet, Kerron Stewart of Jamaica holds the world’s fastest time (10.75) and is firmly in the running for a Golden League title. Having run over a tenth of a second faster than any other athlete this year, Stewart is widely regarded as a prohibitive favorite, although there are a few other women ready to take her down. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser defeated Stewart at the Jamaican championships and holds the second fastest time in the world this year at 10.88. American champion Carmelita Jeter ran 10.78 wind-aided at the US championships and could certainly contend. Also in the mix for podium spots will be Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and the third Jamaican, Veronica Campbell-Brown.
Competitor.com says: 1. Shelly-Ann Fraser (JAM), 2. Kerron Stewart (JAM), 3. Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM)
Again we will see a matchup between the top two men in the world, Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay. Gay has actually run faster than Bolt this year, 19.58 to 19.59, but Bolt still holds the world record of 19.30 from the Olympics last year. Bolt has yet to prove he can get out of the blocks well, but it may be his finishing 75m that will allow him to defend his position as world number-one. Sitting in the wings ready to pounce on a misstep by the two favorites are Americans Wallace Spearmon, the only other man under 20.00 this season, and LaShawn Merritt. Dark horses in the event come in the form of the two youngest men in the field. Alonso Edward of Panama has run 20.00 this season and Ramil Guliyev of Azerbaijan has run 20.04, a time sits second to Bolt’s 19.93 on the all-time world junior list.
Competitor.com says: 1. Usain Bolt (JAM), 2. Tyson Gay (USA), 3. Ramil Guliyev (AZE)
Before July 31st it looked like defending world champion Allyson Felix of the United States was going to find herself fighting for a podium spot. That all changed when Felix blazed to the win in Stockholm in a world-leading 21.88. Bahamian Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie holds the second-fastest time this year ( 22.23), which she recorded in taking second to Felix in Stockholm. American Muna Lee could certainly hold her own in a final, as she clocked a 22.13 wind-aided mark as runner-up at the US championships. Also contending for a shot at a medal will be American Lauryn Williams, Jamaicans Shelly-Ann Fraser and Veronica Campbell Brown and LaVerne Jones-Ferrette of the Virgin Islands.
Competitor.com says: 1. Allyson Felix (USA), 2. Muna Lee (USA), 3. Debbie-Ferguson McKenzie (BAH)
The men’s 400m will showcase the last two Olympic champions in LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner. Merritt currently holds the best time this season of 44.50, which he ran twice, as Wariner sits second on the year with a 44.66. Wariner, however, has not run under 44.80 since May. Looking to split up the American duo will be a group of diverse, though capable, runners. Latroy Williams (44.73) of the Bahamas and Tabarie Henry (44.77) of the Ivory Coast ran huge personal bests at the NJCAA championships in May; however, neither athlete has proven international experience. More likely to find the podium are European stars David Gillick of Ireland and Jonathan Borlee of Belgium along with Chris Brown of the Bahamas. All three men hold their respective national records and have high aspirations for Berlin.
Competitor.com says: 1. LaShawn Merritt (USA), 2. Jeremy Wariner (USA), 3. Chris Brown (BAH)
American Sanya Richard’s holds the world’s best time of 49.23 and has looked extremely impressive throughout the season. Richards holds five of the top seven times of the year and has dominated every race she has entered. The woman holding the other two times in the top seven is Russian champion Antonina Krivoshapka, who ran an impressive 49.29 in late July. Krivoshapka is the indoor European champion but has never run faster than 50.80 when racing off Russian soil. The Jamaican duo of Shericka Williams and Novlene Williams-Mills, along with former World 200m champion Anastasiya Kapachinskaya of Russia, could push Richards to the limit over the final 100m of the race. A true wild card comes in the form of British Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu, who has been injured or sick for most of the season. Known for running well in big meets, Ohuruogu should not be discounted if she is able to make it to the final.
Competitor.com says: 1. Sanya Richards (USA), 2. Shericka Williams (JAM), 3. Anastasiya Kapachinskaya (RUS)