Spencer ready for top-three run
JAMAICA'S Kaliese Spencer, one of the most dominant female athletes in the 400-metre hurdles at Diamond League meets over the past three years, appears set to make that big step up to World Championships glory.
While her Diamond League form has been very good the 2004 Commonwealth Games champion is yet to transfer that winning form to a major meet.
Spencer has been unbeaten all season and she is one of two who will carry that tag to Beijing. The United States' Shamier Little who is the world leader with 53.73 seconds is also unbeaten. A year ago, Spencer was the most dominant athlete in the event and posted eight of the top ten times last year with a 2014 best of 53.41.
With a season best of 54.15 in winning in Oslo this season, Spencer who is at number seven on the IAAF's world list will definitely need to go faster if she hopes to get her first medal in the event at the IAAF World Championships. She will also have fresh in her mind an incident two years ago when she was disqualified in Moscow after looking to be in the best shape of her career.
Unlike previous years, the 2015 entries seem to lack the deep spread of past championships. Defending champion, Zuzana Hejnov· of the Czech Republic is just nearing her best form after recovering from injuries and after a slow start this season she has a season's best of 53.76 - a time she did in winning at the Paris Diamond League. She will be hoping to make back to back victories and with her experience, she is dangerous.
Little who won the World Junior title a year ago is improving rapidly. She appears to like to compete at the Eugene track in Oregon as she has won the World Junior, NCAA Division 1 and the United States National senior titles on the same track. She will need to show that she can run fast outside of Eugene. A few weeks ago, she won the Pan American Games title in Toronto, Canada.
Beijing will definitely bring back good memories for Spencer who nine years ago became the first Jamaican to win the 400-metre hurdles title at the World Junior Championship and she will be hoping that it will be another title on Chinese territory for her and improved on her Berlin (2009) fourth place finish. In Berlin, Jamaica's Melaine Walker won gold in a Championships record 52.42 while Spencer was fourth in 53.56.
Hejnov· won two years ago in 52.83 but it is unlikely that sub-53 seconds will win at this year's championships as no one is showing that type of form. That will give Spencer hope as anywhere in the 53.5 range will be in her zone.
The defending champion and Little will be big threats along with the likes of Denmark's Sara Slett Petersen who ran a season's best 53.99 in placing second to Hejnov·.
TOP THREE: 1. Zuzana Hejnov· (Czech Republic), 2. Kaliese Spencer (Jamaica) 3. Shamier Little (USA).