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Many reigning world champions will not defend their titles in Doha

August 10, 2019
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Men's 10,000m race at the 2017 London World Championships
From the new IAAF rules on testosterone that has affected the women’s events from the 400m to the 1500m distances, to some of the 2017 medalists like Mo Farah and Usain Bolt moving away from track running, to other defending champions being injured and uncertain of participating at the Doha world championships, this year’s world championships seem to be very open in many of the track events. It remains to be seen whether a good number of the 2017 world champions will defend their titles.

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There were times when one or two athletes would be dominating an event to an extent that there would always be clear contenders ahead of the world championships. There was an era when Kenenisa Bekele was usually the athlete to beat in the 5,000m and 10,000m, same to the era of Mo Farah in the same distances, Hijam El Guerrouj in the 1500m, Vivian Cheruiyot in the women’s 5,000m, David Rudisha in the men's 800m, among others.

However, there is an element of suspense this year leading up to the Doha world championships with no clear top and dominant contenders in many of the track events.

It is as though the Doha world championships will most likely mark a new era of an emergence of a completely new crop of track world championships.

Below are some of the track events that paint a picture of what most fans are curiously waiting and anticipating to know how everything will develop in the lead up to the Doha world championships.

In a seasonal best time of 1:45.43, the defending champion in the men’s 800m event, Bosse Pierre-Abmroisse could only finish 9th at the Monaco Diamond League race. It makes it hard to imagine that he is in the right shape to defend his title in Doha. Nijel Amos had been seen as the man to watch at this event, having ran an amazing time of 1:41.89 at the same meeting. But he then got injured at the London Diamond League meeting and it is uncertain whether he will be back in good form again before the world championships.

Of the three medalists from 2017 in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, only Soufiane El Bakkali has featured in the diamond league races, although not as dominantly as expected of him. There are reports that Evan Jager has already ruled out the possibilities of getting back from injury before the world championships while the defending champion, Conseslus Kipruto is yet to run his first race after recovering from injury.

Faith Kipyegon, who is the defending champion in the women 1500m, has already raced once after coming back from maternity leave and it remains to be seen if she is fully in her world championship form before Doha. The distance has been dominated by Sifan Hassan, Genzebe Dibaba, Tsegay Gudaf and Laura Muir. Jenny Simpson who was the silver medalist in London, finished 7th at the Rabat Diamond League meeting while it is not clear whether Caster Semenya who has not featured recently in this event will be running.

While it is expected that Caster Semenya will most likely defend her title in the women 800m easily, it is not yet very clear given her ongoing case with IAAF if she will run, or walk away with her “head held high” as per her recent famous tweet on the social media. It is not also clear whether other runners who have been away from competition due to the same rules, like Francine Niyonsaba and Margaret Nyairera will also be there.

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