By Robert Taylor, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
With Shaunae Miller running a 22.14 at the Jamaica Invitational, Allyson Felix ran a 21.98 at Doha. Both athletes seem to be setting up for much faster times later down in the season. Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad had a great season last year before injury cut it short. She actually runs down and past Felix on the backstretch in the World Relays women 4x100m.
This can be interpreted many ways, depending on what the individual chooses to see. It could be that Felix was not in the form she is in now, or Ahye had superior speed. Both athletes have traditionally poor starts for the 100m but great closing speed. Felix seems to have the best speed endurance in female 200m while we have not seen what Ahye can do yet.
Other notables could be Veronica Campbell-Brown who has not run a credible 200m race in two years, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the current World Champion , the 2014 European Champion, Dafne Schippers who ran 22.03 in -.5 wind, 2013 world bronze medalist and 2014 Commonwealth Games double sprint gold medal winner, Blessing Okagbare.
Tori Bowie is another name that should be added. With so many athletes with great ability, the only constant for the 200m is Allyson-Felix. Until Felix is beaten in the World Championships or someone shows me something to be considered I have her as the 200m favourite.
The 100m is for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to lose. She has won too many championships since the 2008 Olympics for me to think of her losing. Her start and her ability to perform on the big day are without question. Shelly-Ann has won in two Olympics and two World Championships. She probably does not get as much credit as she deserves, because of the level the female athletes are performing, relative to the world records, but I would not hold that against her or any of the female athletes for that matter. Regardless of Shelly-Ann’s status, there are strong contenders to give her a challenge.
Veronica Campbell-Brown should not be discounted for 100m and 200m, as well as the other veteran, Carmelita Jeter and the young stars such as Michele-Lee Ahye, Elaine Thompson and Blessing Okagbare. The vastly improving Tori Bowie whose Diamond League-leading season of 2014, was stopped short because of injury, shows great promise.
The current world leader in the 100m Elaine Thompson is a new rising star coming out of Jamaica. She has taken down some established stars already. So far in the early season, she has run 10.92 and 10.97. Kelly-Ann Baptiste is another name to be considered. As with the 200m, the list is long. Like Allyson Felix in the 200m, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who many of her opponents will have to fear and respect all in one,. I strongly believe the 100m gold will be going to her. She has consistently run in the 9.7’s to win. Even when she had technically bad races, she finds a way to perform well. That can wear on an opponent’s mental framework.
It’s funny, like the 100m and 200m, in the 400m, we find that the historical dominant ones will be there. They have all been through more than a three World Championship cycle. Sanya Richards has been showing great form since she ran those incredible races at the World Relays. Her times seem more like she was in late season form, rather than early season.
Christine Ohurruogu is one that always turns up in excellent shape on the day of the Championships. Over the years, we have come to realize that one should not use her relative pedestrian season to predict her championship performance. Francena McCorory is a contender with strong possibilities. She has finally found a way to balance her race and this could spell trouble for the other title contenders. Last year Diamond League winner Novlene Williams-Mills, should be amongst the title contenders, but will she improve on her 2014 season? Others who should get special mention, are Stephane McPherson and Shaunae Miller. Both are young and possess vast potential. McPherson is improving season by season and it is only a matter of time before she becomes an unquestioned medal contender. I wonder if this will be her breakout season to win a medal of any colour.
Shaunae Miller is a former World Youth and World Junior 400m winner. Her range is 200m and 400m. In 2013, she contested the 200m at the Moscow World Championships and came in fourth. Her talent is unquestionable and I think she has the ability to be a dominant 400m runner. Whatever event she decides to run, I am expecting a great performance from her.
There are names that should or will have to be added as the season plays out. This makes the early prediction difficult. Nevertheless, the history of the performers makes predictive probability relatively high. Very few will bet against Shelly-Ann, Allyson or Sanya in the 100m, 200m and 400m respectively. It is now the month of May and the World Championships is in the latter part of August.
Too early to determine the likely champions, but barring injury, it would be tough for anyone to usurp the position of the past winners and leaders. As time passes, we should be able to have a firmer view of who will do what. As at this point, I will say Shelly-Ann in the 100m, Allyson in the 200m and Sanya in the 400m. I am flexible in my thought to adjust as time passes but for now this is my belief.