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FIVE women to watch out for at world athletics championships

August 20, 2015 08:51 IST
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Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands has posted some impressive times this season, particularly in the 200 metres. Only Allyson Felix and Candyce McGrone have run faster this year than the 22.09 seconds Schippers posted in Monaco in July and she ran a 22.03 in Zurich last year while still competing in the heptathlon.

Her height, long legs and smooth running style have earned Shaunae Miller comparisons to her hero, the Caribbean-born French athlete Marie-Jose Perec who did the 200-400 double at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Shamier Little has been dominant in 2015, winning her second straight American collegiate title in a personal best time of 53.74 seconds then taking gold at the US nationals and Pan American Games.

Unbeaten in 28 competitions since taking silver at the London Olympics, Caterine Ibarguen will be a strong favourite to claim back-to-back triple jump gold medals in Beijing.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson finished 15th at the London Olympics three years ago but has serious medal hopes of her own going into her second world championships.

Check out five female athletes to watch out for at the August 22-30 world athletics championships in Beijing:

DAFNE SCHIPPERS (Netherlands, 100 and 200 metres)

Dafne Schippers

A bronze medallist in the heptathlon at the last world championships, Schippers has ditched the multi-discipline event to focus on the sprints from this season.

The 23-year-old swept both sprint titles at the European championships last year and has posted some impressive times this season, particularly in the 200 metres.

Only Allyson Felix and Candyce McGrone have run faster this year than the 22.09 seconds Schippers posted in Monaco in July and she ran a 22.03 in Zurich last year while still competing in the heptathlon.

Tall for a sprinter at 1.79 metres, Schippers is aware she needs to improve her start to compete for the podium in the 100 but the national record of 10.92 she ran to win in London last month showed she has plenty of raw pace once she gets going.

SHAUNAE MILLER (Bahamas, 200 and 400 metres)

Shaunae Miller

Miller finished fourth in 200 metres as a teenager at the last world championships in Moscow and will be disappointed to return from Beijing without a medal even if she decides to focus solely on the 400m.

A former world youth and junior champion in the one-lap race, the 21-year-old ran a personal best time of 49.92 to win the Lausanne Diamond league last month.

She had started the season by improving her country's national mark in the 200 sprint at the Jamaican Invitational, storming down the straight to victory in 22.14, the sixth fastest time of the year.

Her height, long legs and smooth running style have earned Miller comparisons to her hero, the Caribbean-born French athlete Marie-Jose Perec who did the 200-400 double at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

SHAMIER LITTLE (United States, 400 metres hurdles)

Shamier Little

The horn-rimmed glasses, bleached hair and decorative flowers are distinctive enough but what really makes Little stand out is her searing pace around the track and over hurdles.

A former world junior champion, the 20-year-old would have been expected to take a few years finessing her technique before troubling the top echelon of the 400 metres hurdles.

Instead, Little has been dominant in 2015, winning her second straight American collegiate title in a personal best time of 53.74 seconds then taking gold at the US nationals and Pan American Games.

Little's time at the NCAA championships remains the best in the world this season and she is has yet to taste defeat.

CATERINE IBARGUEN (Colombia, triple jump)

Caterine Ibarguen

Unbeaten in 28 competitions since taking silver at the London Olympics, Ibarguen will be a strong favourite to claim back-to-back triple jump gold medals in Beijing.

Ibarguen has six of the top 10 jumps this year and the only slight blight on her season has been her failure to get over the 15 metre mark, something she first achieved with a jump of 15.31 in Monaco last year.

After representing her country in the high jump at the 2004 Athens Olympics, the 31-year-old considered retiring after failing to qualify for the 2008 Games but was persuaded to persevere with the triple jump by Cuban coach Ubaldo Duany.

KATARINA JOHNSON-THOMPSON (Britain, heptathlon and long jump)

Katarina Johnson-Thompson

Johnson-Thompson finished 15th when Jessica Ennis-Hill won the Olympic heptathlon title in London three years ago but has serious medal hopes of her own going into her second world championships.

Quadricep and knee injuries have disrupted her preparations for Beijing but the 22-year-old has proved since London that she has what it takes to compete at the very top in the multi-discipline event.

Fifth place in Moscow in 2013 was followed by the top score in the world last year (6,682 points) and a dominant performance in the pentathlon at the European indoor championships in March, where she was just 13 points off the world record.

Ennis-Hill's return to a major championship for the first time since her London triumph after having a child will grab the headlines but the former world champion could find herself upstaged by her younger compatriot.

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Source: REUTERS
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