2011 World Championships – 11 Events I Can’t Wait to See
The 2011 International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Championships are set to begin on August 27 in Daegu, South Korea. The inaugural World Championships competition was held in Helsinki, Finland in 1983. The meet took place every four years (the year before an Olympic year) until 1993. Beginning in 1995, the World Championships have been held in every odd numbered year, making the 2011 competition the thirteenth World Championship meet. The World Championships in Athletics (track & field) is the third largest international sporting event in the world, ranking behind only the Olympics Games and the World Cup (soccer).
I will be in Daegu, Korea at the World Championships for the final five days of the nine-day competition. My first and foremost interest is cheering Shannon Rowbury in the women’s 1500. I am biased towards this event because I was Shannon’s high school coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral. But besides the women’s 1500 meters, here are the other eleven events that I am particularly looking forward to seeing. They follow in chronological order they will take place:
1. Men’s 100 Meters (Aug. 28)
Will the Jamaican team of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, and sweep the medals? Who will win out between the pre-race favorites, Bolt and Powell. Bolt is the world record holder and has seemed untouchable at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships but he’s been a little off his game in 2011. Powell, on the other hand, seems to be on his game.
2. Men’s 110 Hurdles (Aug. 29)
This is expected to be a three-way battle between Daryon Robles (Cuba), Liu Xiang (China), and David Oliver (USA). Robles is the world record holder at 12.87 and won the 2005 World Championships and the 2008 Olympics. Xiang’s PR is 12.88 and he won the 2004 Olympics and 2007 World Championships. Oliver is the American record holder at 12.89 and was undefeated in 2010.
3. Men’s 400 Meters (Aug. 30)
After years of American dominance in this event (think: Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner), this year’s 400 meter event seems up for grabs. Any one of eight to ten athletes seem to have a legitimate chance to claim the gold. Countries that aren’t always thought of as 400 meter hotbeds have athletes in the running – Grenada, Belarus, and the Ivory Coast.
4. Men’s 400 Hurdles (Sept. 1)
This appears to be a five-person battle between American athletes and L.J. van Zyl of South Africa. Van Zyl is the world leader for 2011 at 47.66. But don’t discount American’s Bershawn “Batman” Jackson (47.93), newly minted 2011 USA champion Jeshua Anderson (47.93), and thetwo-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor (47.94). And, although he has been a little off this year, the defending World Champion Kerron Clement should not be ignored.
5. Men’s Shot Put (Sept. 2)
The USA has traditionally been very strong in this “strong man” event. The threesome of Adam Nelson, Christian Cantwell, and Resse Hoffa are TEAM USA teammates again after representing America at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships. Cantwell won silver in Beijing and gold in Berlin. Can he medal again? An American has won the shot put at the World Championships every year since 2003. But the 2011 world leader is a North American but not an American – it’s Dylan Armstrong from Canada.
6. Women’s 5000 Meters (Sept. 2)
I believe this will be a two-person race between Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot and Ethiopian Meseret Defar. Cheruiyot has a 2011 best of 14:20.87. But Defar is the defending World Champion and although her 2011 best is “only” 14:29.52, she holds the World Record of 14:12.88.
7. Women’s 200 (Sept. 2)
All the attention for this event will be focused on Allyson Felix. Why? Because she is the three-time defending champion in the women’s 200 meters. However, she’s not taking the easy route to a historical four-peat. Before she begins her defense of the 200 meter title, she will compete in the 400 meters. By the time she steps to the starting line at the 200 meter final, she will have already run five races (400 meter heats and final, plus 200 meter heats).
8. Men’s 1500 Meters (Sept. 3)
Championship 1500 meter races are very unpredictable. The pace is often slow which leads to a mad dash for the medals in the final straightaway. Tactics is the key. On paper Kenyans Silas Kiplagat and Asbel Kiprop are the favorites. But given the unpredictable nature of this event, just about anyone who makes the final is going to be in the hunt.
9. Women’s 100 Hurdles (Sept. 3)
This is another event that could be won by any one of several athletes. The nature of the short hurdles race is such that often there is a surprise winner. You have to negotiate ten hurldes and one slight misstep can mean tenths of seconds in a race where athletes are separated by hundredths of seconds. Keep in mind that after they successfully clear one hurdle, they are just 8.5 meters away from another possible disaster. That’s the challenge that Sally Person (12.48), Kellie Wells (12.50), Danielle Carruthers (12.52), Dawn Harper (12.58), Tiffany Porter (12.60), Lisa Urech (12.62), Perdita Felicien (12.73) are faced with.
10. Men’s 200 (Sept. 3)
As I mentioned before, Bolt is a little off his game this year. Of course for Bolt, “a little off his game” still makes him one of the fastest human beings in the world. The question in the 200 is, Can American Walter Dix take advantage of Bolt’s vulnerability? Bolt appeared unbeatable in 2008 and 2009. If ever there was a time he might go down, the 200 in Daegu seems like the race where it could happen.
11. Women’s 4X100 Relay (Sept. 4)
Winning a medal in the 4X100 meter relay is both about speed and the ability to pass the baton. One could argue that passing the baton is more important than speed. The US women’s 4X100 meter relay team won the World Championship in 2005 and 2007. But at both the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships, the US failed to advance to the final, dropping the baton in the heats. If the US can successfully move the baton around the track, they have the speed to match the Jamaican team, who themselves have to pass the baton successfully. There will be a lot of breath holding when the gun goes off on September 4, and a big exhale by some country’s coaching staff 41-42 seconds later when the first team crosses the finish line with a baton held firmly in their hand. Who will it be?