In 2008, Beijing was thronged by athletes from all four corners of the globe, looking for Olympic glory. Now, seven years later, the superstars of athletics return, this time to compete in the World Athletics Champonships.
The Championships will start on Saturday and will run for 9 days. For many, it will be the last time to test themselves at the highest level before the 2016 Olympic Games.
Britain has its fair share of both young and seasoned talent at the competition. An excellent example of this can be seen in the heptathlon, where Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson will both be competing. Since winning gold at the London Olympics, Ennis Hill has had a baby and has hardly competed since then, but her display at the Anniversary Games last month suggests she is regaining her form. Compatriot Johnson Thompson has always been regarded as Ennis Hill’s successor, and now may be her chance to fulfil her early promise. The heptathlon will take place over the opening weekend and will be an intriguing watch.
Another stand out event is Mo Farah’s races, not just because he has an excellent chance of winning a medal but also because of the recent controversy regarding doping allegations surrounding the athlete and his coach, Alberto Salazar. It will be extremely interesting to see whether it will affect his performance on the world stage. Farah is running the 10,000m on Saturday 22nd August and the 5,000m on Wednesday 26th August.
Another London 2012 star, Greg Rutherford, will feature in Beijing in the long jump competition on the 24th and 25th August. A gold medal will see him hold the World, Olympic, Commonwealth and European titles simultaneously. Christine Ohuruogu will also start her campaign for her third World Championship title on the 24th, competing in the 400m.
There are also many atheletes to look out for outside of Britain. Usain Bolt is perhaps the most obvious, as he returns to the stadium where he set the world alight winning 3 gold medals in the Beijing Olympics. The 100m will take place on Sunday 23rd August, but the race is not Bolt’s for the taking. Justin Gatlin is unbeaten in 26 races, and is currently in excellent form. . Once again, the recent doping controversy makes this race even more interesting. Gatlin has been suspended twice for doping, and many feel that he should not be able to compete again.
On the 25th August, another fascinating battle between two competitors will take place. Kenyan athlete David Rudisha won Olympic gold for the 800m in 2012, but has been struck down by injury since then. He will be looking to regain his form in this competition. However, he has been beaten by competitor Nijel Amos in the previous six meetings, and so the going will be tough for Rushida.
In women’s sprinting, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will look to continue her dominance in the 100m and 200m races, competing in the 100m on the 24th and the 200m on the 28th.
The next 9 days will be jam packed with action, drama and, of course, high-quality athletics. If any of the excitement of the 2008 Olympics is recreated in the Bird’s Nest Stadium, then we are in for a treat.
Featured image: Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin: andyshep.com
Image of Jessica Ennis-Hill: www.dailymail.co.uk