Track is my field: Mark Cullen's international track and field website featuring storytelling, commentary, and predictions and event analyses for the Olympics and World Championships. I'll be writing from the 2018 European Championships in Berlin in August. I'm active on Facebook and Twitter: @trackerati.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 8 - Sat, 8/17 - m Marathon, w High Jump, m Javelin, w 5,000m, w 4x400m Relay,w 100m Hurdles, w 200m

m Marathon
Tsegaye Kebede (Eth) has won London twice including this year, and set his PR in winning Chicago in 2012. He won bronze in both Beijing and Berlin and is a great major meet competitor. Stephen Kiprotich, UGA, is the Olympic champion; since then, he’s finished 6th at London and run 27:58 for 10k.

Feyisa Lilesa, Eth, won bronze in steamy Daegu; it could be hot and humid in Moscow as well. He has been nipping at the heels of greatness but has yet to put together a major win.

The IAAF website notes that Bernard Koech (Ken) ran a 59:54 half-marathon in Lisbon two months after running 2:05:53 in Dubai in January. True, but he even more remarkably followed that with a 58:41 half marathon in June! A man of steel: fast and strong.

Lelisa Desisa (Eth) owns the world’s top mark on the pancake course in Dubai and then returned to win Boston in April. Is a third all-out effort too much to ask in 8 months? Note that 5 runners in all finished within 8 seconds of each other in Dubai!

I had hoped Geoffrey Mutai, Ken, one of the most consistent of the top-level road runners, would be in this race, but it appears not to be. Winner of Boston and New York in 2011 and Berlin in 2012, this year he has run 27:57 on the track and 27:37 and 27:39 on the roads. Did I mention his 58:58 half-marathon in February? Yowza!

With team running tactics, an Ethiopian sweep is not out of the question.

  1. Bernard Koech, Ken
  2. Tsegaye Kebede, Eth
  3. Lelisa Desisa, Eth

w High Jump
A home win for Anna Chicherova would be hugely popular.The World and Olympic champion also has a silver and two bronzes in her last 5 major meets. She has won four of six competitions this year, and has a 4-1 record against London silver medalist, the effervescent Brigetta Barrett (US). Barrett tops the yearly list at 6’8 ¼” with Chicherova ¾” behind.

In a wide open contest for bronze, Olympic bronze medalist Svetlana Shokolina gives Russia a strong chance of winning two medals. Italy’s young Alessia Trost is third on the worldlist, and Spain’s Ruth Beitia is right behind her. Croatia’s Blanca Vlasic is one of the notable absentees from this championship.

If this were about singing the national anthem, Barrett would win gold for sure.

  1. Anna Chicherova, Rus
  2. Brigetta Barrett,US
  3. Svetlana Shokolina, Rus

w Javelin
This year’s women’s javelin looks just like the women’s high jump: two big names at the top, with the field wide open behind them. Germany’s Christina Obergfoll trails Russia’s Maria Abakumova on the yearly list, but head-to-head, Obergfoll has won every contest, including four Diamond League meets, and she is 7-1 overall.

Two metres behind Obergfoll are Linda Stahl of Germany and China’s Huihui Lu. Stahl has been in majors finals three times and won bronze in London. She was fifth in her only Diamond League meet this season (why only one DL meet?) but won 6 others, including the German Championships to hand Obergfoll her only loss.Lu was fifth in London and is certainly one to watch.

Obergfoll has four Olympic and World medals - none of them gold. It’s her time.

  1. Christina Obergfoll, Ger
  2. Maria Abakumova, Rus
  3. Linda Stahl, Ger

w 5000m
There’s always something of a mystery about who is going to run which distance event, but this year we seem to be in for disappointment as the latest word from Moscow is that Meseret Defar will run only the 5,000m and Tirunesh Dibaba the 10,000m. It’s bad enough that we have so many stars missing from Moscow, but to have them there and dodge each other? The frostiness between the Ethiopians is well-established; is it really better to avoid losing than to walk away with silver? It seems neither wants to risk losing twice. Nonetheless, this makes Meseret Defar a heavy favorite to win at 5k and Tirunesh Dibaba an even stronger favorite to win at 10k.

Few could have been more heavily favored in London than Tirunesh Dibaba in the distances on the track. So when Meseret Defar pulled off her last lap shocker, it seems to have had an impact which ripples all the way to these worlds. Almaz Ayana (Eth) has actually run faster at 5k than her teammate Defar this season, as she was pulled to a 14:25 behind Dibaba’s 14:23 at Paris.

But Defar dusted the field by 6 ½ seconds in Oslo, with Kenya’s Viola Kibiwott next in a very creditable 14:33. Mercy Cherono, Kibiwott’s teammate and Kenyan Trials winner, will be in the mix as well, as she tested Dibaba in Eugene’s 5k and finished only half a second behind.

  1. Meseret Defar, Eth
  2. Almaz Ayana, Eth
  3. Mercy Cherono, Ken

w 4x400m relay
The United States dominated the Olympic 1600m relay by more than 3.5 seconds over Russia. How to make that up for a popular home-town win? Well, for starters, take Sanya Richards-Ross off the US team with injury. Russia and the US are tantalizingly close on paper this year, and this could well come down to how fast hurdlers Natalia Antyukh and LaShinda Demus run. This will be fun in front of the home crowd. Great Britain and Jamaica should duke it out for bronze; Jamaica has 5 under 50.91, while GB has former world and Olympic champ Christine Ohuruogu on anchor.

  1. Russia
  2. United States
  3. Great Britain

w 100m hurdles
Let’s see… NCAA and US champion… US and 2x collegiate record setter this year… 12.26… the #4 performer all-time with = #5 performance. Only .05 away from Yordanka Donkova’s (Bul) 25 year old world record. She has kept a low profile since US nationals with a couple of sharpening races in Switzerland and Finland… good coaching considering the multiple rounds she ran in June. Brianna Rollins is almost 2/10 of a second ahead of the world… and yet their is a question of experience. OK, she’s short on international experience but is used to the collegiate grind.

Much like Aries Merritt on the men’s side, Australia’s Sally Pearson is not having quite the dominant year she had on her way to Olympic gold. She had a busy July as she raced herself back into shape, but she remains almost 4/10 of a second behind Rollins on the yearly list.

Beijing gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson has more international experience than teammates Nia Ali and Queen Harrison, though Harrison has compiled a relatively strong competitive record this year. Harper-Nelson has three Diamond League wins to her credit, and only Rollins has more wins overall. The only thing keeping me from picking the veteran over the new star is a significant .27 time differential this season – but that can go in one hurdle, right?

  1. Brianna Rollins, US
  2. Sally Pearson, Aus
  3. Dawn Harper-Nelson, US

m 200m
Bolt seems a lock here as well as he leads the yearly list at 19.73, with teammates Warren Weir, Jason Young, and Nickel Ashmeade forming a stellar 4x200m – if only there were one. This could well be a repeat Jamaican sweep. Wallace Spearmon is not as high on the yearly time list as I’d like to see him, but the US veteran is an outstanding multi-round competitor. Isiah Young’s stellar 19.86 behind Tyson Gay at the US Nationals can’t be overlooked, especially after making the US London Olympic team, and he has recent collegiate multi-round experience.

  1. Usain Bolt (Jam)
  2. Warren Weir (Jam)
  3. Isiah Young (US)










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