ATHLETICS Worlds Preview II: Taylor vs. Claye, Kendricks vs. Duplantis, Walsh vs. Crouser top men’s field-event showdowns

American vault star Sam Kendricks

The IAAF World Championships in Doha (QAT) start Friday with tremendous match-ups in several of the men’s field events … and new world records are absolutely in play:

Men/High Jump: 1 & 4 October

Leading entries:
2.35 m Maksim Nedasekau (BLR: 7-8 1/2)
2.35 mi Naoto Tobe (JPN: 7-8 1/2i)
2.34 mi Yu Wang (CHN: 7-8i)
2.33 m Mikhail Akimenko (RUS: 7-7 3/4)
2.33 m Ilya Ivanyuk (RUS: 7-7 3/4)
2.33 m Stefano Sottile (ITA: 7-7 3/4)

This event is the definition of wide-open, with no clear favorite, but many contenders.

Given the modest performances worldwide this year, a surprise is possible and many eyes will be on defending champ Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, returning from injury with a seasonal best of just 2.27 m (7-5 1/4). Is he ready to jump high? His last meet was at the Zurich Diamond League final, where he finished 10th at 2.20 m (7-2 1/2).

The winner there, Ukraine’s Andrei Protsenko (2.32 m/7-7 1/4) certainly rates attention as well.

Men/Pole Vault: 28 September & 1 October

Leading entries:
6.06 m Sam Kendricks (USA: 19-10 1/2) ~ Defending champion
6.02 m Piuotr Lisek (POL: 19-9) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist
6.00 m Mondo Duplantis (SWE: 19-8 1/4)
5.92 m Thiago Braz (BRA: 19-5)
5.90 mi Pawel Wojciechowski (POL: 19-4 1/4i)

The battle between Kendricks, Lisek and Duplantis has been one of the highlights of the season so far. Kendricks has competed in an amazing 24 meets so far this season, winning 16 and finishing second five times. He had won five in a row until Duplantis defeated him at ISTAF Berlin at the end of August, with Lisek third.

It’s hard to see anyone else in the medals, but both the comebacking Braz and Wojciechowski are more than capable on a given day.

Men/Long Jump: 27-28 September

Leading entries:
8.65 m Juan Miguel Echevarria (CUB: 28-4 1/2)
8.40 m Shoutarou Shiroyama (JPN: 27-6 3/4)
8.38 m Jeff Henderson (USA: 27-6) ~ 2016 Olympic Champion
8.38 mi Miltiadis Tentoglu (GRE: 27-6i)
8.37 m Luvo Manyonga (RSA: 27-5 1/2) ~ Defending champion

Echevarria is one of the most exciting – and inconsistent – stars in the sport. He clearly has the potential to take the world record from American Mike Powell (8.95 m/29-4 1/2), but he could also fail to qualify for the final. He’s the favorite, but a shaky one considering that Manyonga has won four of his last five meets and consistent in the 8.30 m (27-2 3/4) range.

Wild card? Try Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle, out to 8,32 m (27-3 3/4) this season.

Men/Triple Jump: 27 & 29 September

Leading entries:
18.14 m Will Claye (USA: 59-6 1/4) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist
17.82 m Christian Taylor (USA: 58-5 3/4) ~ Defending champion
17.68 m Omar Craddock (USA: 58-0 1/4)
17.58 mi Hugues Zango (BUR: 57-8 1/4)
17.53 m Pedro Pablo Pichardo (POR: 57-6 1/4)

Should be one of the highlights of the meet: Will Claye – the three-time Worlds medalist – finally get the upper hand vs. three-time World Champion and two-time Olympic Champion Taylor?

Claye has the two best jumps of the year at 18.14 m (59-6 1/2) and 18.06 m (59-3) to win in Paris. But Taylor won the Diamond League Final in Brussels at 17.85 mw (58-6 3/4w), with Claye second and Craddock third. The world record of 18.29 m (60-0 1/4) is in play and don’t forget Portugal’s Pichardo, capable of a monster jump at any time.

Men/Shot Put: 3 & 5 October

Leading entries:
22.74 m Ryan Crouser (USA: 74-7 1/4) ~ 2016 Olympic Champion
22.61 m Darlan Romani (BRA: 74-2 1/4)
22.44 m Tomas Walsh (NZL: 73-7 1/2) ~ Defending champion
22.35 m Darrell Hill (USA: 73-4)
22.32 m Michal Haratyk (POL: 73-2 3/4)
22.31 m Joe Kovacs (USA: 73-2 1/2) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist

The world record of 23.12 m (75-10 1/4) by American Randy Barnes from 1990 has been in the crosshairs of Crouser, Walsh and others for a while now and a breakthrough could come in Doha.

Crouser has been the best in the world when completely healthy, but with so many good throwers, there is no margin for error. Walsh has been the top competitor of late and Romani’s best came at the Prefontaine Classic at Stanford.

Crouser has won 10 of his 12 meets this season; Walsh has won 11 of 15 and took the Diamond League Final in Brussels. Americans and Hill and Kovacs (the 2015 World Champion) are both contenders for medals as well.

Men/Discus: 28 & 30 September

Leading entries:
71.86 m Daniel Stahl (SWE: 235-9) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist
70.78 m Fedrick Dacres (JAM: 232-3)
68.14 m Lukas Weisshaidinger (AUT: 223-7)
67.78 m Ola Stunes Isene (NOR: 222-4)
67.73 m Andrius Gudzius (LTU: 222-2) ~ Defending champion

Stahl and Dacres have been the best all season; Stahl has won 12 of his 15 meets, and won the Diamond League Final over Weisshaidinger and Dacres. Expect those three to be the medalists.

Men/Hammer: 1-2 October

Leading entries:
81.74 m Wojciech Nowicki (POL: 268-2) ~ 2017 Worlds bronze medalist
80.88 m Pawel Fajdek (POL:265-4 ) ~ Defending champion
79.38 m Javier Cienfuegos (ESP: 260-5)
78.97 m Denis Lukyanov (RUS: 259-1)
78.54 m Bence Halasz (HUN: 257-8)

Poland’s Fajdek is the three-time defending World Champion, but Nowicki has won two Worlds bronzes in a row and has the two best throws in the world this season. They have been competing against each other for 10 years now and Fajdek holds a career 74-13 lead and is 7-3 vs. Nowicki this year. If he wins again, Fajdek would become the first thrower to win four Worlds golds, not to mention four in a row!

Men/Javelin: 5-6 October

Leading entries:
90.61 m Magnus Kirt (EST: 297-3)
90.03 m Johannes Vetter (GER: 295-4) ~ Defending champion
89.65 m Andreas Hofmann (GER: 294-1)
89.17 m Edis Matusevicius (LTU: 292-6)
89.06 m Bernhard Seifert (GER: 292-2)
89.05 m Chao-Tsun Cheng (TPE: 292-2)

Kirt has been the world leader since May and has extended his lead twice. He won the Diamond League Final in Zurich and has been consistent at 88 m-plus (288-8). However, Vetter got his seasonal best of 90.03 m (295-4) in the U.S. vs. Europe match and beat Kirt there. Both he and Hofmann are gold-medal possibilities. The wild card is Cheng, who has been strong in big moments and won the Asian Championships impressively early in the year.

Men/Decathlon: 2-3 October

Leading entries:
8,711 Damian Warner (CAN) ~ 2015 Worlds silver medalist
8,572 Niklas Kaul (GER)
8,473 Lindon Victor (GRN)
8,453 Pierce LaPage (CAN)
8,444 Kaz Kazmirek (GER) ~ 2017 Worlds bronze medalist

No doubt that Warner is capable of winning it all, but the focus of this event will be on France’s Kevin Mayer, the world-record holder at 9,126 from 2018. As defending champ from 2017, he had a free pass into this meet and has set lifetime bests during the season in the 110 m hurdles and shot put. He’s been excellent in the biggest meets, finishing fourth in the 2013 Worlds, second in the 2016 Olympics and won the 2017 Worlds. Another world record? Possible!

Prize money at the Worlds is $60,000-30,000-20,000-15,000-10,000-6,000-5,000-4,000 for individual events at $80,000-40,000-20,000-16,000-12,000-8,000-6,000-4,000 for the top eight places.

Next up: women’s track events; look for results here.