No one is immune to defeat and some surprising upsets in major championships, but Athing Mu in the women’s 800m, Faith Kipyegon in the women’s 1500m, and Armand Duplantis in the men’s pole vault seem to be some of the almost sure gold medal prospects at the upcoming World Athletics Championships in Oregon.
There are also events with so many talents put together that they appear to be open for any one of them in the field to win. Like the men’s 800m, 5000m, and 10,000m; and the women’s 5000m (which favors the Ethiopians), 10,000m.
However, what usually makes an athletics event more exciting are some expected duels between athletes who seem to be at the same level and have competed before and won closely against each other. Below are some of the expected thrilling head-to-head competitions that most fans are looking forward to.
Thompson versus Fraser-Pryce in the women’s 100m: The two world-leading times this year have all been run by Fraser-Pryce. She ran 10.67 in Nairobi earlier in the year before repeating the exact time at the Paris Diamond League. But Thompson, who is currently ranked as number 1 and leads in the Diamond League points, has defeated Fraser-Pryce 9 times out of the 11 times they have run together since 2016. The two have not yet competed against each other this year over the 100m distance, and that is why it will be exciting to watch the two Jamaicans race against each other in Oregon. Many expected to see them at the Jamaican national trials, but being the defending champion and already assured of a wild card, Fraser-Pryce choose not to proceed to the finals in the event.
Kerley versus Bromel in the men’s 100m: Fred Kerley who is currently ranked number one by World Athletics, has the fastest seasonal best time of 9.76. The world-leading time had earlier been held by Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala who had beaten Kerley to the second position while running it in Nairobi. Trayvon Bromel had also defeated Kerley at the Prefontaine Classic meeting only for the latter to come back and beat him at the USATF national championships.
Marcell Jacobs, ranked 3rd by world athletics and Andre De Grasse, ranked 2nd will be the other runners who often do well in championship races and could surprise here.
El Bakalli versus Girma in the men’s 3000m steeplechase: The season has been dominated by Soufiane El Bakalli of Morocco and Lemecha Girma of Ethiopia. The two times the two have met this year, El Bakalli has won in both the Doha and the Rabat Diamond League meetings. He also has the world-leading time of 7:58.28 against Lamecha’s 7:58.68 and is ranked number one on the current world athletics rankings. However, Girma leads in the diamond league points – 22 against 16.
The championship runner who could complicate the statistics is the world defending champion, Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto.
Yavi versus Jeruto in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase: In Eugene, Norah Jeruto clocked a world-leading time of 8:57.97 to win the Prefontaine Diamond League meeting, with Winfred Yavi coming second in 8:58.71. Later on at the Paris Diamond League, Yavi bettered Jeruto’s world-leading time by running alone to win the race in 8:56.55.
On the diamond league standings, Yavi is in position 1 with 15 points, but on the other hand, Jeruto is currently ranked at number one in the women’s 3000m steeplechase event by words athletics.
Norman versus James in the men’s 400m: Kirani James would have enjoyed an amazing winning streak this year in his dominance of the 400m event after winning at the Bermuda Games, Puerto Rico Classic, Rome and Oslo Diamond League meetings; but the USA’s Michael Norman is the only one who has managed to stop him at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meeting where Norman ran a Diamond League meeting record of 43.60 ahead of Kirani who ran 44.02 to finish second. Norman, who has been undefeated this year, repeated another amazing 43.56 at the US national championships last month to confirm his great form at the moment.
Ingebrigtsen vs Cheruiyot in the men’s 1500m: Of all the 12 times they have competed against each other in the 1500m, world champion, Timothy Cheruiyot has defeated Olympic champion, Jakob Ingebrigtsen 11 times.
Ingebrigtsen is currently ranked as number 1 in the world while Cheruiyot is ranked 2nd. Although, there could be a surprise for the two of them in the name of Abel Kipsang, who is the current world leader at 3:31.01 and who defeated Cheruiyot at the Kenyan trials.
Jepchirchir vs Chepngetich in the women’s marathon: Like in the women’s 100m where the contention for gold is among athletes from the same nation, Kenya’s Olympic Champion, Peres Jepchirchir, and the world’s best-ranked, Ruth Chepngetich will be the two women to watch in the marathon event. The last time the two met was at the Olympic Games last year where the world defending champion failed to finish the race due to the warm weather conditions in Sapporo. Both runners have won their respective big city marathons this year; Chepngetich won the Nagoya women’s marathon in 2:17.18 on the 13th of March. Peres Jepchirchir on the other hand battled with Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia, who will be representing her country here as well, almost up to the finish line before winning it in 2:21:01 against 2:21:05.