Jessica Ennis-Hill goes up against the likes of Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Brianne Theisen-Eaton in the heptathlon at the IAAF World Championships
AW previews for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing from August 22-30…
men’s sprints | men’s distance | men’s field
women’s sprints | women’s distance | women’s field
» High jump
This event is yet to take off this season and only three women have been over 2.00m. Anna Chicherova has been over the barrier twice and in winning the Russian title she beat another of the favourites, Mariya Kuchina. Spain’s twice European outdoor champion Ruth Beitia is the other woman over two metres this season. A British woman has never made the final, but that looks set to change thanks to representation this time from Isobel Pooley and Morgan Lake.
» Pole vault
Yarisley Silva looks favourite to upgrade from bronze last time out to take gold for Cuba. The world indoor champion leads the world rankings with 4.91m and on two other occasions has been over 4.80m or higher this year. Greece’s Nikoleta Kiriakopolou has emerged this season as a strong gold medal contender and heads the Diamond League standings. Britain’s Holly Bradshaw has returned well from injury last year with 4.50m in her opening two competitions.
» Long jump
Shara Proctor, who was sixth last time around, has a good chance, having set a British record of 6.98m last month. American Tianna Bartoletta, who won the world title in 2005 aged 19, set a PB this year of 7.12m to lead the world rankings. Brittney Reese is looking to follow Valerie Adams as only the second woman to win four consecutive titles in an individual event. Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson will contest this event after her heptathlon and will be accompanied by team-mate Lorraine Ugen.
» Triple jump
Caterine Ibarguen is set to start the defence of her world title with the longest winning streak in the sport intact.
She is unbeaten in three years and 28 competitions. The Colombian came close to losing that in Eugene, however, until Russia’s Yekaterina Koneva saw her early lead wiped out with a last-round jump. Koneva’s 15.04m there remains the world’s leading mark of 2015 as Ibarguen’s 15.18m in Eugene was marginally wind-assisted. Koneva, who missed out on the gold medal by just four centimetres at the Moscow world championships of 2013, is surely the only one who can stop Ibarguen.
» Shot put
When Christina Schwanitz returns to the Bird’s Nest stadium, she will be hoping for even greater success within the famous venue. In May, the European champion threw a massive 20.77m at the Beijing World Challenge meet to improve her PB by 37cm. Now with Olympic and world champion Valerie Adams confirming that she will not compete at this year’s event, the German is the clear favourite to win gold in China. China’s Lijiao Gong should offer some stiff opposition, though.
Sandra Perkovic may not have thrown as far as she did in 2014, but the Olympic champion has been just as dominant this season. Having produced the best performance in the event for 22 years at the 2014 European Championships in Zurich when she threw 71.08 metres, Perkovic is yet to go out to over 70m this campaign. While she does not lead the global standings going into Beijing, she has thrown five of the top seven distances in 2015 and holds a 6-0 career head-to-head record over world No.1 Denia Cabellero of Cuba.
Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk this month became the first athlete in history to throw over 80 metres, with 81.08m at the Cetniewo Kamila Skolimowska Memorial. Unbeaten in 2015, she holds a winning streak of 16 straight events dating back to June last year, when she was beaten by Betty Heidler. Heidler hasn’t come close to her top form in 2015 with a season’s best of 75.73m. However, the 2007 world champion is still on track to claim the silver medal.
World record-holder and double Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova from the Czech Republic has a strong chance of winning world championship gold in Beijing, eight years after she took her first and only title. However, with the European champion far less dominant than she was in 2014, the outcome of the event is far from a certainty. Her main challenge may be the world’s No.1 and No.2, South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen and Australia’s Kim Mickle.
Having produced the highest total of points in a multi-event competition since London 2012 earlier this year, Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton starts as the slight favourite to win one of the most eagerly anticipated events at the championships. Standing in her way will be two of Britain’s biggest stars, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
Making her major championship return after three years out due to injury and the birth of her first child, Olympic champion Ennis-Hill is looking to win a medal as she continues her preparations towards her title defence at Rio 2016. As for Johnson-Thompson, this is a huge chance to win a first major medal outdoors. The 22-year-old comes into the competition having produced the second best pentathlon total in history at this year’s European Indoor Championships in Prague.
» The above are bite-sized extracts from the August 20 edition of Athletics Weekly magazine which includes much more in-depth event-by-event previews, news, stats, rankings and predictions and is available to order here or read digitally here