The field for the men’s 100m in Birmingham includes 11 athletes who made the semi-finals in Eugene and yet none of them stands out as the clear favourite. The reigning Commonwealth champion Akani Simbine from South Africa will be strong again.
The Jamaican trio appears likely to be 20-year-old rising stars Ackeem Blake, Conroy Jones and Kemar Bailey-Cole who are all potential finalists along with Kenyan star Ferdinand Omanyala and England’s Reece Prescod.
Ghana has Benjamin Azamati who has run 9.90 this season and Joseph Amoah, who has run 9.94 this year. Neither did well in Eugene but their times show the depth of the field.
Kenya’s Omanyala is one to keep an eye on. Hailing from the home of some of the greatest ever distance runners, Omanyala is a sprinter. He is the fastest-ever African and has run the eighth-quickest time in the world.
field of dreams
The field is where the Australians are expected to excel. On Tuesday, big Matt Denny will be throwing the plate having finished five centimeters from a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He is getting better each competition and should be in the medals.
Pole vaulter Nina Kennedy is coming off a bronze medal at the world championships and should win gold here on Wednesday morning, AEST.
In the high jump Australia doesn’t need other countries to create a world class competition. It is the one sport where our national titles are now the equal of any world championships. Eleanor Patterson just won world gold and Nicola Olyslagers (formerly McDermott) is the Olympic silver medalist from last year and only just missed out joining Patterson on the dais in Eugene. The women’s high jump final is on Saturday night, AEST.
How high Australia’s high jumpers can jump
Ditto the javelin. Australia’s world superstar Kelsey-Lee Barber won a second successive world gold to go with her bronze from the Olympics, but her preparation was disrupted when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 just before the Games. During the end of the worlds it looked like Australia could have the quinella until Mackenzie Little was eventually edged out of the medals.
In Birmingham the competition will be hot between the two Australian women for the gold. The javelin is on the last day at the track, on Sunday night AEST.
Brooke Buschkuehl is Australia’s new national record holder in the long jump and in Eugene it was just two centimeters away from the medals. She manages two auto-immune diseases, has had serious foot and injury problems, contracted COVID in the past year and recently still managed to jump her first PB from her in six years and a new national record only weeks ago. She is a huge talent and will be jumping on Friday morning.
The middle distance kings
Peter Bol, who captured Australian imaginations with the race of his life in Tokyo and just missed an Olympic medal, was disappointed with his seventh place finish in Eugene, and it will be intriguing to see how he responds. Kenyan world champion Emmanuel Korir has not entered the Commonwealth Games 800m field and not has Canada’s Marco Arop, but world 1500m champ Jake Wightman, representing Scotland, is expected to compete in the 800. The heats will be on Wednesday night (AEST) and the end on Sunday.
The 1500m will be one of the races of the meet with Australia’s dogged Stewart McSweyn chasing a medal against an elite field. McSweyn has fought back from a difficult start to the year. He was diagnosed with pericarditis – inflammation around the heart – after getting a vaccine booster too soon after having COVID, but performed strongly to finish ninth at the worlds.
The new world champion, Wightman, and the Kenyan pair of former world champion and Olympic silver medalist Timothy Cheruiyot and Abel Kipsang, who have run the best times in the world this year, are expected to be at the head of the field. The final is Saturday night, AEST time.