Thu | Oct 17, 2019

Tanya Lee | Usual suspects expected to take sprints in Doha

Published:Friday | September 20, 2019 | 12:33 AM
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (front) gives it everything as she closes in on the finish line, but is pipped to victory by her MVP Track Club teammate Elaine Thompson, in 10.73 seconds, same time as her, at the National Senior Trials at the National Stadium on Friday, June 21, 2019.

We’re a week away from the start of the 2019 IAAF World Championships, and athletes are raring to put on a delightful show in what has been a longer-than-usual track season. Sadly, after athletes compete in Doha, Qatar, and make the long trek home, the rest will be short-lived as in less than a month, they will literally gear up again to begin preparations for the 2020 Olympic season.

This week, I’ll share my World Champs predictions, concentrating mostly on the sprints, since that’s where Jamaica’s love affair resides.

I’ll start things off with possibly the most anticipated race of the championships. All eyes will be glued to world lead and Olympic Champion Elaine Thompson, three-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and Diamond League Champion Dina Asher-Smith. I suspect Thompson will take home the gold, not just because she is the fastest over 100m this year, but because a fit Elaine has proven on multiple occasions, including at the National Championships in June, that her speed endurance will take her there faster than the most rocket start.

An epic showdown

If neither Elaine nor Shelly is fatigued from the long season, each could push the other below their joint national record of 10.70 seconds. An epic showdown and a new national record await!

Over in the men’s 100m, it’s a foregone conclusion to many that Christian Coleman, the fastest man in the world this year with 9.81 seconds at Stanford in June, should cop gold. But I have never ruled Justin Gatlin out of surprising any field, as he has done on numerous occasions prior, including at the last World Championships, where he and Coleman relegated Usain Bolt to third place. Gatlin knows how to win, but his current fitness levels may not permit. I’ll play it safe and go with Coleman first, Gatlin second, and the hope is that Yohan Blake is perfect in execution and makes his way on to the podium.

In the women’s 200m, with Diamond League champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo concentrating on the 400m, I expect world-lead Thompson to win gold, with Dina Asher-Smith in second, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in third. For the men, the red-hot Noah Lyles has only been beaten this season by Michael Norman, but Norman will only contest the 400m, leaving Lyles the massive contender on this runaway train. Lyles will prove too much for the field, and should win gold. The 22-year-old’s 19.50 seconds this year puts him at fourth place on the all-time list. If he ever perfects his form, records will be at stake. I’ll place Coleman into second and Canadian André De Grasse in third although the other spots behind Lyles are anyone’s for the taking.

The USA’s dominance over men’s sprinting is back, as world number one Michael Norman is expected to take 400m gold as well, which would, if my predictions prove correct, present a clean sweep in the sprints for the USA. Fred Kerley is likely to be second as both have had phenomenal seasons so far. I’m placing former Kingston College sensation Akeem Bloomfield on the podium in what is a hopeful bet that Jamaica’s high school record holder, who ran 43.94 seconds in June 2018 at the NCAA Championships, will come up big in the final.

Duel to the Finish

The women’s 400m will be a duel to the finish. The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo should be looking to put a smile on that nation’s face after the onslaught of Hurricane Dorian, but Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser may have something to say about that and has looked dangerous this season over the distance. My hope is that the Stephen Francis-coached Shericka Jackson spoils the party and comes up with another personal best to surprise the field. Francis has been known to condition his athletes quite well for these championships, so I’ll watch keenly, with hopes of a podium finish.

In the sprint hurdles event, anything can happen, and so it’s tough to make predictions, but I’m hoping for a podium finish for Jamaica’s Omar McLeod over the 110m hurdles. He has raw championship mettle. For Diamond League Champion Danielle Williams, the 100m hurdles is hers to lose, having set the fastest time this year with 12.32 seconds. In second and third place, I’ve placed team USA’s Kendra Harrison and Brianna Rollins-McNeal.

Tanya Lee has over 10 years’ expertise as a Caribbean sports marketer and is also an athlete manager and publicist.