Age 22, United States
The showdown took place at Shanghai in May, the first Diamond League of the season. The current star Christian Coleman was jolted by the emergence of Lyles on the track in the build-up and post race. Lyles gestured at the start line and fired an imaginary gun at the camera. He then went onto beat Coleman, someone who does not subscribe to antics. After coming into the race in the last 30 metres, Lyles also turned and looked at Coleman at the finish-line. Coleman took a potshot at Lyles on social media after the race.
“If your goal is to run fast in May to taunt and flex online then your priorities aren’t straight,” Coleman posted. Lyles later said it was Coleman who infuriated him by taking off his headphones and blasting music loudly in the call room. At Doha, Lyles who is known to back-flip after winning the race is likely to be in Coleman’s face — a upstart who has the swagger to stun established names and win the crowd over. He wouldn’t run 100m, but it could be in the 200 where he could set the track ablaze. At the IAAF Diamond League meet in Lausanne, he clocked 19.50 seconds, the fourth-fastest timing ever.
Age: 23, Great Britain
There is a tendency by the media and fans to hype up an athlete from this part of the world, but here is a genuine contender who could knock off the queens of women sprint events. Four years ago she had come close to finishing on the podium at the London World Championships, but she finished fourth in the 200 metre final. This year, she has laid down the marker by beating Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the double Olympic champion and fastest woman in the world this year in the 100metres in Brussels last month. Asher-Smith is also the 100 and 200 metre European Champion. But she will have her task cut out at Doha as two Jamaicans, Fraser-Pryce, gold medallist in 2008 and 2012, and Elaine Thompson, the winner of the 100m and 200m from the previous edition, will be breathing down her neck.
Fraser-Pryce, 32, has made a comeback after becoming a mother and won Diamond League meetings in Lausanne and London. Thompson, 27, won at the Diamond League at Paris. Asher Smith has the fourth-best time of the year (10.93 seconds), after Thompson (10.73), Fraser Pryce (10.73) and United States’s Sha’Carri Richardson (10.75).
Men’s long jump
Juan Miguel Echevarria
Age: 21, Cuba
At the last two major competitions — the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 World Championships — the men’s long jump gold was won by United States’ Jeff Henderson (8.38) and South Africa’s Luvo Manyoga (8.48 metres). These were middling performances when it came to the world level as Mike Powell’s record stands at 8.95 metres. But in the young Cuban, the world of track and field may have just discovered the next big star. In August, at the Zurich Diamond League, Echevarria produced a massive 8.65m after seemingly stuck at 8.30 and thereabouts this year. There was a 45-cm gap between the Cuban and the next best, South African Ruswahl Samaai.
Echevarria will start as the favourite and will look to help his country regain the glory days in the event when four-time gold medallist Ivan Pedroso reigned from 1995-2001. He also has two massive jumps — both wind-assisted — 8.83 metres in Stockholm and 8.92 in Havana. Manyoga and Samaai will be his two main threats in an event, which is likely to witness the return of 8.50-plus jumps at the world stage.
Women’s 3000m steeplechase.
Age: 28, Kenya
She may not be as young as some of the others tipped to become next-generation champions, but for a country which is still overcoming the taint of doping, Chepkoech provides a hope of restoration of pride. Moreover, going by the average age of middle-distance champions, she is in the prime of her career. Two years ago in London she had missed the water jump and had to turn back and clear it again and hence missed vital seconds which cost her a podium finish. However, on current form, she looks poised to win her first major gold.
She has won 15 of her last 17 races and has victories at the African Championships and the Continental Cup but is not invincible. Chepkoech lost to her compatriot Norah Jeruto at the Diamond League in Oslo.
She is the only athlete in the field to register a sub-9 minute time in 2019 but in a tactical race like the steeplechase threats could lurk everywhere. One of these comes in the form of Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi who won the gold in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m at the Asian Championships, which was also held at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha.
Women’s 400 metres
Salwa Eid Naser
She is Nigerian born and had gone by the name Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu before shifting allegiance and any country would have loved to have an athlete like her in its ranks. Graceful and powerful on track, Naser is a world-class athlete for whom no lead is unconquerable. Indian fans would remember her schooling Under-20 World Champion Hima Das in the final of the 400 metres at the Asian Games.
At Doha, Naser will face a much sterner test in the form of Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the Olympic 400m champion. At the Diamond League in Zurich earlier this month, Naser clocked 50.24 seconds and won the gold in the absence of Miller-Uibo. Naser and Miller-Uibo have battled to the wire before when the latter clocked her personal best of 48.97 at the Diamond League in Monaco with Naser clipping at her heels with 49.08.
Men’s shot put
Age 21: Poland
The men’s shot put will be one of the most high-quality finals at the World Championships as the field holds nine athletes with a personal best over 22 metres. The big boys, of course, are also in terrific form, including defending champion New Zealand’s Tom Walsh who won the Daimond League in Paris with a throw of 22.44 metres. Olympic Champion United States’s Ryan Crouser has a world-leading throw of 22.74m while Brazil’s Darlen Romani has also impressed with 22.44. Polish Bukowiecki joined the 22-metre club last year and his recent form indicates that he could challenge the more established names. The sequence of his most recent throws are 21.91m, 21.92m, 21.99m and 22.25m—a personal best effort in a meeting in Chorzow just 10 days ago, where he defeated Walsh.