ATHLETICS WORLD CUP PRESENTED BY MULLER: SESSION ONE PREPARES TO GET UNDERWAY
History will be made at the London Stadium today (Saturday 14 July) when the inaugural Athletics World Cup presented by Muller gets underway, seeing the world’s top eight athletics nations compete for the Platinum Trophy.
With points awarded respective of an athletes’ finishing position (eight points for the winner, seven for second place and so on), the athletes competing on both the track and in the field, will want to put their nation in a strong position heading into Sunday’s events.
In a straight final format, day one’s session will feature the highly competitive female field events as the women’s javelin, hammer throw, pole vault and long jump take centre stage. The action on the track will feature a multitude of sprints, hurdles and middle-distance races, before the men’s 4x100m and women’s 4x400m bring the opening session to a close.
The highly-anticipated event begins at 18:45 (BST) with the women’s pole vault. British record holder Holly Bradshaw has the highest personal best and will be aiming to get the hosts off to a strong start, but she will face stern competition from representatives from the other nations competing in London.
There is just one centimetre separating the season bests of Bradshaw, the USA’s Katie Nageotte and French record holder Ninon Guillon-Romarin, while Chinese record holder Li Ling will also be one-to-watch in what will be a very competitive opening event.
The same can be said for the women’s hammer throw (19:00), which will definitely be one of the events to watch this weekend.
Poland’s world champion Anita Wlodarczyk has been streets ahead of her competition over recent years, but the USA’s Deanna Price is closing in on the world record holder, setting a world leading distance of 78.12m at last month’s national championships; a new USA record and the fourth longest throw ever.
In the men’s triple jump (19:30), Olympic bronze medallist and 2016 world indoor champion Bin Dong of China will start as the athlete-to-beat, but the USA’s Donald Scott will take to the raised London Stadium runway in fine form, having set a new personal best to claim the USA national title last month.
The men’s discus (19:40) will see reigning Diamond League champion Darrell Hill (USA) compete at the Athletics World Cup full of confidence after beating Olympic champion Ryan Crouser to claim his first national title and his invite to the World Cup last month.
2014 Commonwealth champion O’Dayne Richards (Jamaica) and 2016 European silver medallist Michal Haratyk (Poland) are likely to be Hill’s closest challengers.
The first event on the track will be the women’s 400m Hurdles (20:00), featuring Commonwealth champion Janieve Russell of Jamaica. Commonwealth bronze medallist Wenda Nel of South Africa will be one-to-watch as will the USA’s Kymber Payne and Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Meghan Beesley.
From this point onwards, spectators will be spoilt for choice with action coming thick and fast on both the track and in the field.
In the field, Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Fedrick Daces arrives in London as the world number one in the men’s discus (20:05), but the USA’s Reggie Jager has also shown good form this year, whilst Polish record holder and double Olympic silver medallist Piotr Malachowski will no doubt be in contention too.
Back to the track and the women’s 400m (20:18) looks set to be a thrilling battle between Jamaica’s Commonwealth bronze medallist Stephenie Ann McPherson and the USA’s world indoor champion Courtney Okolo.
The men’s 200m (20:27) looks set to be a close race to call with just over half-a-second separating all eight athletes this year. South Africa’s Luxolo Adams will take to the start line with the quickest time this year after setting a new personal best to claim the national title in March.
Staying on the track, the battle for top spot in the men’s 110m Hurdles (20:37) looks set to be fierce as Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Ronald Levy goes head-to-head with the world indoor gold medallist Andrew Pozzi of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and the USA’s Devon Allen are both likely to also be in the mix for the top spot on the podium.
The men’s high jump (20:42) is expected to be competitive with just two centimetres separating the lifetime bests of China’s Yu Wang, Poland’s Sylwester Bednarek and the USA’s Jeron Robinson.
Using a raised runway in front of the back straight stand, spectators will get a unique view of the women’s long jump (20:44), which will feature Great Britain and Northern Ireland captain Lorraine Ugen.
The British long jumper is the current world leader after a huge 7.05m leap to claim the British title and she will be hoping to lead her team to glory with victory in her event.
On the track, the women’s 1500m (20:48) will be another close battle with Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui having the run the quickest in the event this year and the fastest personal best.
The men’s 800m (21:08) will see Poland’s double European champion Adam Kszczot will return to London 12 months after winning silver at last year’s World Championships. Kszczot has already tasted success on British soil this year, winning gold at the World Indoor Championships in March, and he will be hoping to add a World Cup title to his haul tonight.
In what is expected to be a competitive final, Kszczot’s main challengers are likely to be the USA’s Olympic bronze medallist Clayton Murphy and Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Elliot Giles.
The women’s javelin (21:15) is the final field event on day one, but it will be hotly-contested with Olympic and world medallists set to battle it out. China’s Lyu Huihui won world bronze in London last year and she will start as the favourite in the event having thrown the third furthest distance in the world this year.
2015 world champion and German captain Katharina Molitor and South Africa’s Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen will both be able to use their international experience, whilst Poland’s Marcelina Witek arrives in London in-form having recently set her personal best.
The final individual event to be contested on day one will be the women’s 100m (21:20), featuring double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica. South African record holder Carina Horn, the USA’s Ashley Henderson and China’s Yongli Wei will all be hoping to deny Thompson another international title.
The women’s 4x400m relay (21:32) and men’s 4x100m relay (21:45) will represent the last opportunity for teams to add points to their tally ahead of day two.
Full start lists and results can be found by clicking here.
For UK viewers, coverage is available to watch from 7pm on Saturday on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action, while it will also be available to all Sky customers on Sky Sports Mix, channel 121.