It was a track and field mega weekend as national championships took place across several major athletics nations, including the USA and Jamaica. With spots at the 2013 IAAF World Championships on offer, here are ten things that we learned ahead of Moscow …
1. Kelly-Ann is now a major gold medal threat
The most significant women’s 100m performance of the weekend came not at the US Champs (although English Gardner’s stunning 10.85 clocking should not be undervalued), or even the Jamaican champs (where Kerron Stewart ran a season’s best 10.96) but at the Trinidad Championships.
There, Kelly-Ann Baptiste ran a national record 10.83 to top the world lists and hint that she is more than capable of improving upon the bronze medal she won over 100m at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.
2. Russia’s men are coming good for Moscow
Of the 17 Olympic athletics medals won by Russia at London 2012, only two were delivered by the men. However, at the European Team Championships, where Russia edged out Germany in a thrilling clash, the boys rose to the challenge.
Watch out for three European Team Championship winners that could climb the podium in Moscow: long jumper Aleksandr Menkov, who has the two longest jumps in the world this year; rising javelin star Dmitriy Tarabin, who fired the spear out to a new personal best of 85.99m, and 110m hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, who ran 13.19.
3. Tyson Gay is back
He could have written a medical journal on all the aches, pains and ailments he has suffered since landing triple sprint gold (100m, 200m and 4x100m) at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka but at the age of 30 he appears back to his very best.
Gay landed a hugely impressive sprint double at the US Championships, in world leading times of 9.75 (his second fastest ever time for 100m) and 19.74 for 200m (his fastest time for the half-lap distance for three years).
4. US throwing is in business
We are used to US athletes dominating the men’s shot but performances at the US Championships suggest greater strength in depth across several throwing events. In the women’s shot, Michelle Carter set a US record of 20.24m to elevate herself to second on the world lists behind Queen Val.
In the women’s hammer, Amanda Bingson set a national record of 75.73m to climb to third on the world lists and Ryan Whiting registered the second longest men’s shot put mark in the world this year with a best of 22.11m. He now owns four of the five longest throws in 2013.
5. Warren Weir is a major 200m force
Yes, Usain Bolt qualified for the 100m for Moscow by winning the Jamaican Championships in a season’s best 9.94 but the most noteworthy performance in Kingston came from Olympic 200m bronze medallist Warren Weir.
His personal best 19.79, including a ‘Bolt in Beijing' style showboat, puts him joint second on the world lists. “London was not a fluke,” Weir said afterwards. “This was simply a statement of things to come in Russia, because I'm feeling powerful.”
Gay, the 100m and 200m US champion, will face Bolt and Weir over 200m in Moscow
6. Sanya & Asafa to miss Moscow (individual events)
Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross will not be in individual 400m action in Moscow. The US one-lap star, struggling with a toe injury, wound up sixth in the women’s 400m final in Des Moines. Former world 100m record holder Asafa Powell trailed home seventh in 10.22 in the Jamaican 100m final, and will not feature in the blue riband event in the Russian capital. They could both, however, feature in relay squads if fit.
7. BriRo is the real deal
Brianna Rollins (main picture) is the breakout star of the 2013 season, and wowed the global athletics community with her scintillating 12.26 to land the US 100m hurdles title in Des Moines. The time was the fastest the event has witnessed for 21 years, and catapulted her to joint third on the all-time rankings, ahead of Olympic champion Sally Pearson (12.28). Rollins’ time was within 0.05 of Bulgarian Yordanka Donkova’s 25-year-old world record. Will we see it go in Moscow?
8. Mary Cain is even more able
The Alberto Salazar coached teen sensation Mary Cain has been ripping up US age group marks with almost embarrassing ease this season. At the weekend, in a slow 1500m US Championship final, the 17-year-old finished second to qualify for Moscow. In so doing she has become the youngest ever US athlete to make the World Championship team.
9. Brigetta Barrett steps up and Vlasic is back
World and Olympic champion Anna Chicherova may not find it easy to defend her world title in front of home support in Moscow. Brigetta Barrett, 22, the Olympic silver medallist in London, cleared a new personal best to go top of the world lists with 2.04m.
And after missing the 2012 season through injury, two-time world high jump champion Blanka Vlasic made her first 2.00m clearance (in Buhl, Germany) in nearly two years.
10. The USA’s 800m men could end 41 years of hurt in Moscow
Not since the golf cap clad Dave Wottle stormed to success at the Munich Olympics some 41 years ago has a US athlete won a global men’s 800m title. Yet Duane Solomon bounded to the top of the world lists with his 1:43.27 clocking to win the US title in Des Moines.
Supporting the 28-year-old in the US team will be Nick Symmonds and Brandon Johnson, who both dipped under the 1:44 mark at the weekend. With one or two questions marks over the form and fitness of world record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha, 2013 could be the USA’s year.