A-Z of the IAAF World Athletics Championships (part one)

Dina Asher-Smith
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Dina Asher-Smith will be contesting the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha

From the oldest participant to the most bemedalled athlete in championship history and potential European firsts, we have put together our first A-Z of the IAAF World Athletics Championships with a European spin. The second instalment will be published tomorrow. 

A is for Age

On Saturday evening, Spain’s Jesus Angel Garcia will compete in the 50km race walk at the age of 49 – making him the oldest athlete to take part in the IAAF World Athletics Championships. Amazingly, he was world champion back in Stuttgart in 1993 and will also be making a record 13th appearance in Doha.

B is for Bubka

Sergey Bubka won an unprecedented six successive world pole vault titles in his unparalleled career - a feat made all the more impressive due to the fact the World Championships were staged every four years up until 1991. At 19y and 253d Bubka is also the youngest male athlete to win a field event title at the World Championships. 

C is for Conditions

Such are the conditions in Doha - where the average daily temperature for September is 39 degrees - it means a timetable without morning sessions and a midnight start for both marathons. The race walking events take place at 11.30pm.

D is for Dina and Dafne

No British woman has ever won a global sprint title outdoors and treble European champion Dina Asher-Smith is a favourite to achieve that in the 200m although two-time reigning champion Dafne Schippers will be hungry for a hat-trick. First up for Asher-Smith is the 100m and she lines up fresh from a victory over Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the Brussels Diamond League. The British sprint relay team also has a great medal prospect in the 4x100m relay. 

E is for European Records

One of the oldest European records on the books, Thomas Schonlebe’s European 400m record of 44.33 dates back to when he won the title at the 1987 World Championships in Rome. More recently Schippers broke the long-standing European 200m record with 21.63 at the 2015 World Championships and the British men’s 4x100m team set a European record of 37.47 to win the title in 2017. 

F is for Fair Play

Competing in her final major event before retirement, Ruth Beitia fell short of the medals but the popular Spaniard was presented with the Special Fair Play Award from the International Fair Play Committee (IFPC) for her efforts to console Italy’s Alessia Trost, whose mother and coach had passed away earlier in the year, after the qualifying round of the high jump.  

G is for Guliyev

Only two athletes have retained the men’s 200m title at the World Championships - Calvin Smith and Usain Bolt - and now Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev will look to join them after winning in London two years ago in 20.09. He is the European leader this summer with a time of 19.86, the second fastest time of his career.

H is for Helsinki

The Finnish capital was the venue for the first IAAF World Championships, between August 7-14 1983, and it remains the only city to have staged the event twice, the second time being in 2005. The first edition was memorable for home favourite Tiina Lillak surpassing Fatima Whitbread in the sixth round of the javelin and Helena Fibingerova's win in the shot put while Paula Radcliffe won her first and only title in the marathon in her sixth appearance at the IAAF World Championships in 2005.

I is for Israel

And the presence of Lonah Chemtai Salpeter. Israel has never won a world gold medal – the nation has two silvers and a bronze – but Chemtai Salpeter is one of the favourites for the marathon. The European 10,000m champion clocked 2:19:46 to win the Prague Marathon in May which makes her the second fastest in the field based on season’s bests behind Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich at 2:17:01. Not since Radcliffe in 2005 has a European won this title. 

J is for Javelin

One of the most emotional moments of the 2017 World Championships was the javelin as the Czech Republic’s world record-holder Barbora Spotakova regained the title 10 years after winning it in Osaka. She threw 66.76m in the second round and now at 38, will be back. Could she do it again in what might be her final appearance at the World Championships? There were also tears for Germany's Johannes Vetter who won the men's javelin title in London.  

K is for Karsten

Who can forget the best image of London 2017, with Karsten Warholm’s eyes almost popping out as the young Norwegian – now 23 – won gold in the 400m hurdles in 48.35. He remains so much at the forefront of the event that when he won the Diamond League crown in Zurich at the end of last month, his time of 46.92 was the second fastest in history. Could Kevin Young’s 1992 world record of 46.78 be broken?

L is for Long Jump

At 4.30pm local time on Friday, the qualifying rounds for the men’s long jump will set the World Championships into motion. The final is on Sunday and it could be a great start for Europe with Greece’s European indoor and outdoor champion Miltiadis Tentoglou, who has a season’s best of 8.32m, at the forefront of the medal challenge. There could be a similarly good ending with fellow European champion Malaika Mihambo the favourite for the women’s long jump on the final day of competition. 

M is for Mo

Between 2011 and 2017, Mo Farah won six individual titles, including 5000/10,000m doubles in 2013 and 2015. Only Usain Bolt has won more individual titles at the World Championships, accumulating seven gold medals in total. Other athletes with six individual titles include Sergey Bubka in the pole vault and Michael Johnson in the 200m and 400m.