Athletes targeting world records at Worlds

AFP, PARIS

Sun, Aug 18, 2019 - Page 11

Ten years on from Usain Bolt’s 9.58 second dash over 100m, today’s stars are targeting a clutch of world records ahead of next month’s World Athletics Championships in Doha.

Here are the records most likely to fall:

400M HURDLES

The event is undergoing a renaissance after several years in the background, not least owing to the emergence of Qatari Abderrahman Samba, 23, and American Rai Benjamin, 22, respectively holders of the second and third best times ever recorded.

Add Norwegian world champion Karsten Warholm, who has twice set European marks over the distance this season, timing 47.12 seconds in London on July 20.

The trio’s exploits are enough to suggest that Kevin Young’s 46.78 seconds, which the American achieved on Aug. 6, 1992, could be in real danger.

“All the ingredients are there,” 1997 world champion Stephane Diagana said. “In terms of density [of contenders] and potential coming to the boil, we have for a long time been well away from the high level which we knew in the 1990s. Now we are coming back toward a level which is even superior.”

LASITSKENE ALONE

Whether she can pull out a new world mark is one thing, but whether Russian high-jump starlet Mariya Lasitskene can actually be beaten is another, after she piled up 42 wins in her past 43 outings since 2017.

Her personal best stands at 2.06m, tantalizingly close to Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova’s August 1987 world mark of 2.09m.

Lasitskene, 26, has several times just missed clearing 2.1m, notably in Ostrava on June 20.

What has been lacking for her is the lack of serious rivals to push her to even greater heights, although there is the additional motivation of next year’s Tokyo Olympics, having had to miss the Rio Games in 2016 owing to the suspension of Russian athletes over a doping scandal.

NORMAN QUEST

The absence of South African 400m Olympic champion and world record holder Wayde van Niekerk (43.03 seconds in 2016), hit by a knee injury in 2017, is likely to be a boon to the US contingent led by Michael Norman.

The 21-year-old from San Diego, whose 43.45 seconds earlier this year gave him the fourth-best time to date, is going to Doha as favorite over the distance.

Compatriot Fred Kerley, who beat Norman in the US championships in timing, is another title hope.

TRIPLE JUMP

Jonathan Edwards’ record of 18.29m has stood since 1995, but double Olympic champion Christian Taylor leaves nobody in much doubt about his ambitions to beat it.

“The world record is the only reason why I am continuing competing,” said the world champion, who came within 8cm of putting the Edwards mark to bed in 2015.

Taylor’s fellow American Will Claye turned in 18.14m at a June meeting to show he is the likely man to push his rival hardest.

LONG JUMP

Mike Powell set the long jump mark of 8.95m in Tokyo in August 1991 in an epic tussle with Carl Lewis, but expects the record to slide from his grasp this summer.

The main threat would appear to be 21-year-old Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria, who cleared 8.83m in June last year in Stockholm, albeit that was wind-assisted at 2.1m per second above the permitted maximum of 2mps.

“For Echevarria, it will come unless he is injured — that’s certain,” Powell said. “If you are capable of doing 8.6m, then you are capable of jumping 9m with a really fine jump.”

His official personal best stands at 8.68m, although the world indoor champion did jump a wind-assisted 8.92m in Havana in March last year.

Echevarria faces competition for gold and a potential new mark from South African Luvo Manyonga, whose personal best is 8.65m.