After two days of morning and evening sessions at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, day three is the day to catch your breath as there are no morning session on days three and four.
Capitalise on the opportunity to sample the many delights of Budapest, eat early and get down to the National Athletics Centre for an evening session beginning with women’s pole vault qualifying and showcasing four finals.
A sixth for SAFP?
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is beyond legend status in world sprinting. Here she is chasing a sixth gold medal in the 100m final. SAFP faces a real battle this time because a troublesome knee injury has restricted her to just a handful of competitions so far this season. Her Jamaican teammate Shericka Jackson, Sha’Carri Richardson and perennial contender Marie Josee Ta Lou have all run considerably faster than Fraser-Pryce this year.
Can she do it? Maybe, she is a great champion, after all. Will she? Well, that’s another question which will be answered at 9:50pm on day three.
More speed in men’s 110m hurdles
The women’s 100m is not the only event in which the pace will be on. Day three also has the semi-final and final of the men’s 110m hurdles.
You can win the gold medal in the high hurdles with a clean run – indeed, that is probably the ideal approach. But sometimes you’ve got to be prepared to crash and bash your way to the line, leaving a string of downed hurdles in your wake. Whatever it takes.
Grant Holloway can go either way. He is normally a clean hurdler – remarkably so – but he can crash and bash with the best, too. He deserves to be favourite, but he has also been known to lose his rhythm and his chances in the hectic late stages of the race. If he produces a reasonable run over the barriers, he will be very hard to beat.
Olympic champion Hansle Parchment advanced to the semis, as did most of the other key contenders. But Jamaica’s world leader Rasheed Broadbell won’t take any further part in the competition after crashing out of the heats.
In the final it’s just a matter of getting over those 10 barriers as quickly as you can. And if you get a clean run, that’s just a handy bonus.
Pedro Pichardo, meet Jaydon Hibbert
The withdrawal of defending champion Pedro Pichardo from the triple jump is an obvious disappointment. The charismatic Pichardo needed only one jump – his opener of 17.95m – to clinch the gold medal in Oregon.
You’ve got to miss a performer like that. But Jamaican teenager Jaydon Hibbert, now a strong favourite to succeed Pichardo as world champion, makes a pretty good substitute.
Few athletes have made an impact on an event like Hibbert has in the triple jump this year. Turning 18 on 19 January, but already the world U20 champion, the youngster from Jamaica added 60 centimetres to his personal best in jumping 17.87m in May. He stayed in that vein, too, winning the NCAA title with 17.56m, his national champs with 17.68m, and 17.66m at the Diamond League meeting in Monaco.
Hibbert’s trajectory (so far) has seen him progress from 16.05m in 2021, aged 16, to 17.27m in 2022 (17) and now to 17.87m. He has hit the triple jump like a rocket in a manner not unlike . . . well, not unlike a certain Pichardo. When Pichardo was 18, he hit 16.09m in 2011, then 16.79m in 2012 and then all the way to 17.69m in 2013.
The pair were to have met in Budapest in a battle of possible generational change. Now they will not, and on form the gold medal appears to be a battle between Hibbert, Hugues Fabrice Zango, Lazaro Martinez and Zhu Yaming.
One thing seems certain. As noted, Pichardo killed off the opposition in Eugene last year with a 17.95m opening jump. The competitive tension in Budapest should be maintained a lot longer than that.
Ceh, Stahl and Alekna headline men’s discus
Day three’s other gold medal will be decided in the men’s discus where Kristjan Ceh, with occasional interruptions from Daniel Stahl, has reigned supreme in recent times. On the world list, Ceh (71.86m) leads Stahl (71.45m) and European champ Mykolas Alekna (71.00m) by almost a metre.
Andrius Gudzius, Lukas Weisshaidinger, Matt Denny and Alex Rose could threaten if, as often happens, some of the best on distance fail to live up to that form.
…not to forget
Day three will also see preliminary action in both men’s and women’s one-lap hurdles with Karsten Warholm, Rai Benjamin and Alison dos Santos in men’s semis and Femke Bol in the women’s first round. There are also semis in the women’s flat 400m.
Remember: there are always more upsets in heats than finals.
Credit: World Athletics