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At least two world records will be under threat on Friday evening at the Qatar SC Stadium. Indeed, Yulimar Rojas clearly has that of the women’s triple jump, held since 1995 by Inessa Kravets (15.50 m), in her line of sight. Last weekend in Andujar (Spain), Ivan Pedroso’s student came very close once again, just seven centimetres short of her target. She’s certainly in great shape to be in with a chance of nailing the world’s biggest jump of all time. In the same competition, American Keturah Orji, who has jumped 14.92 m this year, and Colombian Caterine Ibarguen, making her 2021 comeback, will attempt to get the better of Rojas in the unlikely event that the Venezuelan suffers a dip in energy.
The world record in the 400 m hurdles, which is even older than that of Kravets since the 46’’78 time posted by Kevin Young dates back to 1992, is just as much in danger given the appearance of a trio of pretenders in recent years. Two of them are competing in Qatar this Friday: Abderrahman Samba and Rai Benjamin. The former will be heading out into the unknown, even if he is on home soil, since he has not competed for the past two years. The American on the other hand has already racked up a time of 47’’12 this season. Both will be able to count on stiff competition from Kyron MacMaster to drive them into a corner.
Kerley aims big
The men’s 400 m should see sparks fly since Fred Kerley, who has been amazing in the short sprint over recent weeks, will once again be up against Michael Norman and the Grenadian Kirani James. Even without Kerley, the starting list for the 200 m is also looking rather fine with Kenneth Bednarek, prize-winner in Gateshead, as well as Andre De Grasse and Justin Gatlin, who is consolidating points with a race number on this occasion. Sprint fans will be disappointed by the late withdrawal of Sha’Carri Richardson, denying them the chance to witness the revenge of her first meeting with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in Gateshead last Sunday. The Stade Français Paris’ Marie-Josée Ta Lou from the Côte D’Ivoire will make the most of the occasion to try to bang out a big time and catch the win.
The middle-distance races all have a Kenyan athlete among the hot favourites: Faith Kipyegon for the women’s 800 m, Timothy Cheruiyot for the 1,500 m, Hellen Obiri for the 3,000 m and Beatrice Chepkoech for the 3,000 m steeplechase.
Barshim on home soil
Not yet seen performing at his best this season, Mutaz Barshim is never quite so at ease as he is in front of a home crowd, as he proved two years ago when he seemingly came back from the dead to secure the world title. However, he won’t have time to dawdle along the way if he wants to tame the Byelorussian Maksmim Nedasekau, European indoor champion over the winter, for whom the event will be his summer comeback, and the Russian athlete Ilya Ivanyuk, who has posted the best performance in the world this season with 2.37 m.
It’s a similar scenario for Sandra Perkovic, up against American Valarie Allmann and Cubans Denia Caballero and Yaime Perez: victory is not set to come out of the blue. In contrast, the pole vault competition will likely see a series of very high jumps in the battle to find a winner. Indeed, there is no shortage of pretenders since we can list at least six candidates with a hope of dominating the competition, which could well be reminiscent of an Olympic final: Greek thrower Katerina Stefanidi, Russian Anzhelika Sidorova, Briton Holly Bradshaw, Swede Angelica Bengtsson and Americans Sandi Morris and Katie Nageotte. Finally, New Zealand athlete Tomas Walsh, third in the craziest shot put competition in the history of the Doha Worlds two years ago, will attempt to pile the pressure on Ryan Crouser whose recent throw of 23.01 m is the new target to beat.