By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
The IAAF World Championship of Athletics has had its fair share of surprises over the years. Perhaps one of the biggest upsets at the 2013 World Championship was when Russia turned the tables on Team USA in the Women’s 4x400m final. To the Americans the gold medal in women’s 4x400m relay finals at most major championships seems like a passage of right. However, they lost in a thriller that night. Many upsets are likely to continue in Beijing, China and here we look at five of the most possible ones.
Women’s 400m Hurdles
Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer not winning a medal at a major outdoor championship is an upset in itself. Spencer, the winner of multiple Diamond Race trophies has taken a different approach this season; limiting her time on the circuit perhaps fine-tuning her technique and coming with fresher legs in Beijing. She is no longer the world leader with rising star Shamier Little (53.74) and World Champion Zuzana Hejnova (53.76) sitting atop the rankings.
This race is going be a humdinger and it is felt Hejnova will not have things her own way defending her title. Many pundits feel Kaliese Spencer or Shamier Little will upset Hejnova and win their first major championship gold medal. Spencer is coming in with fresher legs and could finally rewrite the wrongs of the past.
Allyson Felix is without doubt the most talented athlete of her generation. Felix decided to forego her wildcard entry in the 200m and contest the 400m. She feels she has not reached her full potential in the 400m. This will be her second attempt at this distance at a World Championship; she won silver the last time. In the absence of world leader Francena McCorory and Sanya Richards-Ross, Felix is now the favourite to win the gold medal. However, there is a towering figure literally standing in her way as Bahamian sensation Shaunae Miller also decided to forego the 200m for the 400m. She is the second fastest runner over 400m (49.92) this season and based on her strength and all-round ability, she can upset Felix. I pick Miller to beat Felix in a thriller.
Many persons are accustomed to hearing the anthem of Team USA at medal ceremonies in the men’s 4x400m at major championships. The tables were turned at the London Olympics by an excellent Bahamian quartet.
Team USA is a strong unit and the number one squad for the past two years. They also won the first two editions of the World Relays. However, some pundits are seeing a momentum shift and believe Team USA is vulnerable going into Beijing. They believe history is about to repeat itself, however, the threat is now two-prong with Trinidad & Tobago joining Bahamas in toppling Team USA. This event should go down to the wire with the two Caribbean teams battling for gold.
Men’s 400m Final
At the last World Championship, this event produced the biggest upset when Olympic champion Kirani James went in reverse in the home straight and finished a disappointing 7th. James is one of the favourites this season alongside defending champion LaShawn Merritt. However, gone are the days when this event was just a two horse race, a number of young pretenders wanting to be contenders are now in the mix. At this time Merritt’s form does not suggest that he can defend his title in Beijing. This event is crying out for an upset; will the youngsters oblige in Beijing?
Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
While many track fans will be glued to the sprints, one of the distance events that will draw a lot of attention is the men’s 3000m Steeplechase. The Kenyans have a monopoly on this event; however, a non-African challenger has recently emerged on the scene and is sending panic among the Africans. American record holder Evan Jager (8:00.45) is poised to capture one of the medals the Kenyans had initially ticked off on their checklist. At the Paris Diamond League, Jager outclassed several outstanding Kenyans and was on his way to a historic victory when he fell at the final hurdle and was passed by Jairus Birech who went on to claim a fortunate victory. The Kenyans now realize that they are in a dogfight and the American knows that a plan has been hatched to shut him out. However, Jager, the second fastest Steeplechaser in the world this season, will have other ideas. The determined American has a glorious chance of not only medalling but also to win the gold medal if he can conserve his energy. It would be one of the most shocking scenes at the Championship.
About the Author:
Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis is a very exciting and creative freelance sports writer from Jamaica specializing in the fields of athletics and cricket. His colourful down to earth yet professional personality makes him a favourite amongst athletes and fans. Readers are often exposed to his detailed knowledge and passion which usually increase their interest in the athletes, events and the sport overall. He has a first degree in Banking & Finance and works in the financial industry. Contact Noel at firstname.lastname@example.org