2003 Paris World Championship Preview

The Paris IAAF World Championships will feature strong favourites in the hurdles events, especially in the 400m events where defending champion Felix Sanchez and new world record holder Yulia Perchonkina will pose stern tests for their opponents.

Sanchez fresh from capturing the Pan American title on home soil in Dominica is unbeaten for over two years and also has the only two sub 48 clocking of the year to his name, 47.80 in Lausanne and last week 47.83 in Zurich. Closest to him on time is Jamaica's Kemel Thompson with his 48.05 victory in the London Grand Prix, whilst young American Bershawn Jackson 48.23 and Periklis Iakovakis' second Greek record of the year 48.25 will also be in the hunt for the medals.

Others likely to feature for medals in a very open competition discounting Sanchez include American Joey Woody who has run under 48.50 in his last three races, South Africa's Olympic bronze medallist Llewellyn Herbert along with Britain's Chris Rawlinson who if he can recapture the consistency of his performance in June and early July will be right up there. Polish European u23 champion Marek Plawgo had shown little up to his Bydgoszcz success, whilst European Champion Stephane Diagana cannot be discounted have run 48.68 in his last race and performing in front of his home crowd.

Perchonkina would seem to be one of the outstanding favourites for a title in Paris. After dominating the vent last year 53.10, she only returned to competition in July, but by August had set first a year leading 53.52 in the heats of the Russian Championships and followed this up with a stunning new World record of 52.34 in the final, making her over a second faster than her nearest rivals in Paris.

Those challenging for medals will undoubtedly include Australian Jana Pitman who has a 53.62 time to her name but she will need to make sure that she is technically strong coming home to fend off European Champion Ionela Tirlea and American Zurich & Paris Golden League meets winner Sandra Glover as well as Natasha Danvers who will be in the frame is she can perform to level that has brought down to 54.02 this season.

American perennials Allen Johnson and Gail Devers will also start favourites for the sprint hurdles events, though Johnson has suffered a couple of reverses to Latvian Stanislav Olijars who heads the European challenge and has a season's best of 13.08. Johnson has by far the best time of the year with his 12.97 victory in the Paris Golden League and a repeat performance of this would prove hard to beat.

Fellow American Duane Ross has also performed well on the European circuit but will not be in Paris after failing to finish in the US trials, whilst last years Chinese sensation Liu Xiang has shown glimpses of the form that brought him the Junior World Record in 2002. Young Briton Robert Newton could reach the semi final if he can reproduce the form that has taken him to fourth on the British all time list with 13.36.

Devers is looking for her 3rd outdoor World title and despite not having the fastest time in the world in 2003 - this belonging to Jamaican Brigitte Foster - she has won the big races on the circuit. With European Champion Glorie Alozie not consistently at her best, other medal contenders look likely to come from the Americas, with Dever's fellow American's Miesha McKelvy and Jenny Adams and Canadian Perdita Felicien having strong seasons. Rachel King will be looking to dip under 13 seconds for the first time after running 13.07 twice this year.


18 August 2003


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