Can Liu Hong, world record holder in the women’s 20km race walk, deliver the host nation’s first gold of these championships this morning?
Hopes of that outcome were raised on the morning of Day Two as Zhen Wang established a big lead in the men’s 20km racewalk, but he had to settle for silver after being overtaken in the final kilometer by Spain’s Miguel Angel Lopez.
With Russia’s gold and silver medallists from last year absent, 28-year-old Liu – who took 24 seconds off the world record in winning the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in La Coruna in 1hr 24min38sec in June – has a big chance. But her younger team-matesQieyangShijie, the London 2012 bronze medallist, and Xiuzhi Lu, who set an Asian record of 1:25.12 in March, will also fancy their chances, each having beaten Liu in the past.
So a clean sweep for China then? Not impossible…
With the fastest 200m runner in the world this year, three-times world champion Allyson Felix, concentrating on the 400m here, and 100m winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Prycenot choosing to double up as in Moscow, the way is clear for someone to make a name for themselves.
Dutch-heptathleteDafneSchippers, who ran Fraser-Pryce close in the 100m, looks a strong gold contender, along with JenebahTarmoh of the United States,, Jamaica’s double Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and Britain’s rising star Dina Asher-Smith, the fastest qualifier in a personal best of 22.22.
BrittneyReese, the winner of the last three world titles, may have failed to qualify for women’s long jump final, but in Tianna Bartoletta, the only one over 7.00metres this year, the United States has another likely champion.
IvanaSpanovic of Serbia, who headed qualification with a national record of 6.91will also fancy her medal chances, as will the British pair of Lorraine Ugen, second-best qualifier with 6.87, and her team-mate Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
The latter, who won long jump silver at last year’s World Indoor Championships, saw her high hopes of a heptathlon medal come to grief when she failed to record a legal mark in this event, made no mistake in qualifying and also looks a strong medal contender.
Defending100m hurdles champion Brianna Rollins needed to play her automatic wild card to make it to Beijing after failing to finish in the top three at the US trials. But a year of bewildering changes in terms of dominance in this event could yet see Rollins finishing on top, as she was the fastest qualifier for tomorrow’s final in 12.67, ahead of Britain’s Tiffany Porter (12.73) and the Jamaican pair of Danielle Williams (12.77) and Shermaine Williams (12.78), with 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson of the United States one-hundredth of a second behind.
Like the women’s sprint hurdles, the men’s 110m hurdles looks a very open contest as33-year-old David Oliver of the United States defends his title against a field of younger rivals including European indoor champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France, world record holder Aries Merritt, regaining his form after illness, and Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment.