The 2011 edition of the International Association of Athletics Federation, IAAF World Championship gets underway next weekend in Daegu, South Korea. Jamaica’s sprinter, Usain Bolt, who has lived up to his billing as the fastest man on earth since he sped like a cannonball through the 100m final at the Beijing Olympics three years ago, is the biggest name among a firmament of track and field stars expected in Daegu to compete for honour.
The organising committee of the biennial world’s tournament, which will run from August 27 to September 4, announced that the 100m and 200m world record holder will touch down in Daegu on Tuesday alongside his country’s advance team ahead of the competition.
In the same vein, USA contingent of 129 athletes, including 66 men and 63 women, for the 13th IAAF World Championships will start to arrive in Daegu this weekend according to organisers. The USA team will storm Korea with the determination to maintain their dominance in track and field which had since? been taken over by Usain Bolt’s inspired Jamaica’s resurgence. The USA team will compete in 46 of the 47 disciplines, the only exception being the men’s 50km race walking.
The delegation, including coaches and officials, are expected to move into the athletes’ village on their arrival.
USA topped the medals table at the last edition in Berlin in 2009 with 10 gold, six silver and six bronze medals. Its dominance at the event is such that it has finished first at nine of the last 12 editions of the track and field showcase. The other times, it finished second.
Americans have now collected a total of 120 gold medals, far above their closest competitors, Russia, who have amassed 37. Kenya, known for its long-distance runners, is third overall with 31.
The USA is confident it will race to the top of the table again this year, as it has eight defending world champions, 19 medalists at the World Championships, and 16 Olympic medalists in this year’s squad.
Although, star sprinter, Tyson Gay, will not be competing in Daegu due to injury, current world No.4 Michael Rodgers, and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, Walter Dix, will be challenging world record holder Usain Bolt, of Jamaica in the blue-ribbon 100-meter dash.
Rodgers’ personal best is 9.85 seconds, whereas Dix has mustered 9.88 secs — putting them far behind the 9.58 secs that Bolt clocked in Beijing in 2008.
In the women’s 100m race, current world No.1, Carmelita Jeter, is a strong gold-medal contender. She will also be chasing the title in the 200m, with teammate
Shalonda Solomon considered as her main challenger.
Jamaica is perhaps the only country that can threaten the US on the track. In the last worlds competition, the Caribbean nation finished second overall with seven gold medals thanks to its prowess in the short-distance sprints.
Kenya and Ethiopia, who are expected to dominate the marathon, mid and long-distance running disciplines are also serious contenders for medals. Meanwhile, Russia’s women are expected to keep their vice-like grip on a number of field events including the pole vault.
The host, Korea has a total of 60 athletes competing in 34 of the 47 disciplines in this year’s event. The delegation which had an official launching ceremony in
Seoul on Wednesday ahead of the competition is tasked with getting 10 athletes to 10 different finals. Getting a podium finish or two would even be better, but it is not inconceivable that the host nation could end up being shut out of the medals due to the stiff competition.
South Africa’s reigning World 800m champion, Caster Semenya, who took gold in Berlin two years ago in a record 1:55.45 will be cynosure of all eyes in Deagu as she defends her World title. Her main opponent was Russian Elena Kofanova, who has clocked 1:58.25 this season.
Meanwhile, the Australian advance team was the first to turn up in the South-eastern city. They moved into the athletes’ village on Wednesday. The Canadian and British teams will arrive on Sunday and Monday respectively, followed by Germany on August 18.
Training camps for athletes have already been set up in seven stadiums across the nation. Of these, the US team will use Daegu Civic Stadium, while the Brits will be based in Ulsan, about an hour and a half drive from the competition venue.