Bolt, Isinbayeva, world’s big names sure to attract international attention
South Korea has already staged the 1988 Olympics and the 2002 World Cup, and now the world’s eyes will be on the country once again.
More than 2,400 athletes from 207 members national of the IAAF will compete at the Daegu World Championships in Athletics next month, which make it the largest-ever tournament of its kind. There were a little more than 2,100 athletes from 202 countries at the 2009 event in Berlin.
This year, all the big names in athletics, including Usain Bolt of Jamaica, the world’s fastest man, are sure to attract world-wide attention in Daegu.
The athletes will compete for gold medals in 47 sports events during the nine-day competition. One of the biggest highlights is the men’s 100-meter race, where sprinter Bolt is expected to break his world record.
(From left) World 100 and 200 meters champion Usain Bolt, Jamaican spr inter Asafa Powell, Double amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius, Russia’s Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, Chinese 110m hurdle champion Liu Xiang
Not only did he complete a 100m and 200m sprint double at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he conquered the field in both races and set two world records.
By setting the 100-meter record three times in the span of 15 months in 2008 and 2009 and lowering it from 9.74 seconds to 9.58, Bolt has become the sport’s defining presence.
The 25-year-old Jamaican suffered from Achilles tendon and waist injuries last season, but is now back in form. Last week Bolt clocked a timely season’s best of 9.88 seconds in his final 100m race before this year’s World Athletics Championships, raising the expectation for another stunning run in Daegu next month.
Tyson Gay, the world’s second-fastest man, is considered Bolt’s closest rival. But the American sprinter will be missed in Daegu due to his injuries.
Bolt’s fellow countryman Asafa Powell, will be the one to challenge him in Daegu. The 29-year-old former world record holder, boasts the fastest 100m record of 9.78 seconds this season.
In the women’s 100-meter sprint, a bronze medalist at the 2007 and 2009 world championships, Carmelita Jeter will seek her first world title in Daegu. The 31-year-old American, who holds the second fastest record time of 10.64 seconds, is looking to replace the long standing record of Florence Griffith-Joyner’s 10.49.Jeter will take on Jamaica’s world and Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser, and two-time Olympic medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown.
The men’s 400m race is looking to be a special event with double amputee athlete Oscar Pistorius expecting to compete against athletes without disabilities. The South African, who is nicknamed “Blade Runner,” as he runs with carbon fiber running blades, qualified for Daegu Championship last week after clocking in at 45.07 seconds at an international competition in Italy.
The 24-year-old Pistorius will compete in the 400m against a field that includes two-time world champion and 2004 Olympic medalist Jeremy Wariner.
Men’s 110m hurdles
The men’s 110m hurdles is also expected to be a exciting event with world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba, American Champion David Oliver and Chinese star Liu Xiang competing for the gold medal.
In the field, Russia’s two-time Olympic pole-vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva is aiming for an international comeback. The 29-year-old star, who has set 27 world records in her career, took a year off in 2010.
She has only participated in five events in the last two years, but said earlier that the 2011 world championships in Daegu would be a springboard for the London Olympics and more world records.