Feature | Athletics

The 2019 IAAF World Championships: Everything you need to know

A complete guide of what to keep an eye on in Doha as track and field athletes head to Qatar for the biggest athletics event ahead of Tokyo 2020.

By Evelyn Watta ·

The countdown to the Olympics in Japan is on and the IAAF World Championships is one of the biggest events ahead of Tokyo 2020.

With no Usain Bolt, it's time for a new generation of sprinters to take the baton.

Americans Noah Lyles, Michael Norman, and Sydney McLaughlin could pave their way to fame at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

And, with Usain Bolt retired from track, there are some big shoes to fill.

Ethiopians Hagos Gebrhiwet, Selemon Barega could take over from Mo but teenagers Jakob Ingebrigsten of Norway and Rhonex Kipruto from Kenya are also looking threatening.

Can Olympic champions Shelly Ann-Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and Kenya's Faith Kipyegon maintain their winning ways after maternity breaks?

If you want to know why there will be a night marathon or why Usain Bolt and Caster Semenya are still dominating headlines - we have all your questions answered.

There will be 24 different events held for male and female athletes in Doha, Qatar between 27 September and October 6.

First up, here's who to look out for in each event.

2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships Athletes Guide

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Christian Coleman, USA, 100m

After missing the indoor season, Christian Coleman is many people's favourite for gold in the 100m.

He finished second at the 2017's world championships in London behind Gatlin and ahead of Usain Bolt.

The American sprinter was facing a ban for an alleged anti-doping rule violation, but the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has withdrawn its claim against him.

Noah Lyles, USA, 200m

Noah Lyles is the fourth-fastest man in history in 200m and is itching to collect his first medal at the Worlds.

His 19.50 from the Diamond League in Lausanne, ranks behind big names like Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Michael Johnson.

Since finishing just outside the medals at Rio 2016, the American has lost only once in the 200m.

He was beaten by Michael Norman at the Diamond League in Rome last June.

Lyles also ran the second fastest 100m of the season - 9.86s in Shanghai.

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Michael Norman, USA, 400m

Michael Norman could be in for a big opener in his first full season since he turned pro last year.

Free of schoolwork, the 21-year-old has thrown himself full blast with some breath-taking results.

The double World junior champion remains undefeated in the 400m this season and has leapt up to fourth in the all-time lists at 43.45 from April 2019.

Jamaican sprint queens - Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Elaine Thompson, the double Olympic champion and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are the joint 100m world leaders from the Jamaica world championships trails in Kingston.

The time was 10.73 seconds.

Fraser-Pryce is just returning to the track after the birth of her son.

The 200m should also be a talent-laden race.

Thompson, who is also the fastest over the distance is likely to face Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith as well as Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare who is in fine form this season.

Rio gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo of Bahamas will concentrate on the 400m despite winning the 200m Diamond League title in Zurich.

Salwa Eid Naser, Bahrain, 400m

Miller-Uibo will face tough competition from Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser.

Asia’s top-ranked one-lapper looks intent on bettering her silver from London 2017.

Aminatou Seyni of Niger has decided not to run the 400m despite dipping under the 50s mark with a time of 49.19s - the third best of the year.

Sydney Mclaughlin, USA, 400m hurdles

Sydney Mclaughlin is not your typical 19-year-old.

At 17, she was the youngest American to make the Olympics team in four decades at Rio 2016.

A year after Rio, she signed a professional contract.

And at her debut Diamond League last June in Oslo, Sydney beat Olympic, World and American champions.

She is a clear favourite for the world title.

Home favourite Abderrahman Samba, Qatar, 400m hurdles

Abderrahman Samba is tipped to win the hosts’ first sprint world track title and could also break the world record in the process.

Injury has prevented him from continuing his incredible form from 2018.

The competition is stiff with Norway's defending champion Karsten Warholm breaking the European record with a time of 47.12s at the London Diamond League meeting.

It also meant Warholm took 2019's world leading time.

US star Rai Benjamin has also been challenging Kevin Young's record that stands from the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Middle distance stars to watch - Faith Kipyegon, Kenya, 1500m

Faith Kipyegon, the 2016 Olympic champion, ran a sub-4 minute at the Prefontaine Classic, her first 1500m race since her maternity break.

The Kenyan raced to 3:59.04 just days after her daughter turned one.

That strong return has given the world youth and junior champion a good test as she readies for her title defence.

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Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Norway, 1500m

The reigning double European champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen is angling for his first world championships.

He had a good test at the Euros last year where he won golds in 1500m and 5000m.

Timothy Cheruiyot, the Kenyan who took silver two years ago, is the man to beat, but the Norwegian is improving all the time.

Selemon Barega, Ethiopia, 5000m

Selemon Barega should lead a stacked field of Ethiopians in the 5,000m, looking to defend the title compatriot Muktar Edris won in London.

Since finishing fifth in 2017, when he was just 17, Barega has consistently made the podium in his four Diamond League starts.

He finished second behind Hagos Gebrhiwet in the 10,000m at the Ethiopian trials held in Hengelo on July 17.

Julius Cheptegei, Uganda and Rhonex Kipruto, Kenya, 10,000m

Beside's Gebrhiwet, Uganda’s star athlete Julius Cheptegei and Kenya’s Rhonex Kipruto have been touted as the other two men who can take back the 10,000m crown to East Africa.

Mo Farah's domination of the event has meant that no African has won the title since the 2011.

Farah has left the track to concentrate on the marathon.

Cheptegei took silver in London at the 2017 World Championships.

He is considered the next big distance sensation and has been working with the godfather of Kenyan running, Bro Colm O’Connell, who also coaches David Rudisha.

Field events - Mondo Duplantis, Sweden, high jump

Mondo Duplantis will undoubtedly be a key focus in the pole vault but also how high he can push the bar.

The Swedish came into prominence after his 6.05m vault that won him the European title at just 18.

Since then he has triumphed in his first Diamond League as a pro in Stanford.

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Juan Miguel Echevarria, Cuba, long jump

Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria’s rise through the ranks continues.

Since he leapt to 8.83m, the furthest long jump in over two decades at the Diamond League in Stockholm in 2018, the 20-year-old is a top contender for not only the world record but a world title.

His jump was not recognised due to a tailwind. The world record stands at 8.95m set by Mike Powell’s 8.95m in 1991.

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Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Great Britain, Heptathlon

Can Katarina Johnson-Thompson win Great Britain’s fourth Heptathlon world title?

Johnson-Thompson has been in great shape this year, setting a personal best, and could be days away from her big break.

She came close to clinching gold at Beijing 2015, but she fouled and faded, and could only manage sixth at Rio 2016.

But with the string of injuries behind her, a fresh dose of confidence, and a new training base in Montpellier, the 26-year-old from Liverpool looks set to challenge the defending champion Nafissatou Thiam.

Johnson-Thompson trains with Kevin Mayer, the decathlon world record holder.

The Frenchman will be defending his world title in Doha.

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Usain Bolt

Since Usain Bolt blazed the senior track at the 2007 World championships in Osaka where he picked up double silver, he has been a permanent fixture in the last six editions of the world championships.

A hamstring injury dampened the party for the Jamaican’s final race at London 2017.

A third place in the 100m marked the end of the career of the most successful athlete in the 43-year history of the world championships.

Mo Farah

The six-time World champion Mo Farah quit track after clinching the 10,000 gold and silver in 5,000m at the worlds in 2017.

The British athlete became the first athlete to win the distance ‘triple-double’ at successive championships.

The 36-year-old is now targeting the 2020 Olympics marathon.

Wayde van Niekerk

The 400m world record holder and reigning champ confirmed at the start of September on social media that he would not be in Doha to defend his title.

South Africa's Olympic gold medallist has been rehabilitating from a injury suffered in 2017, but hopes that he would be fully recovered in time for these Worlds were dashed by "another minor setback" earlier in 2019.

David Rudisha

David Rudisha’s last major race was when he defended his Olympic title at Rio 2016.

The 800m world record holder missed London 2017 with a lingering quad injury, that forced him to race sparingly that year.

The 29-year has not competed since June 2017 and had hoped to be fit for Doha. But he remains hopeful that he may sign off racing with a performance at Tokyo 2020.

Eliud Kipchoge

The reigning Olympic champion marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge has chosen to skip the world championships this year to concentrate on running a marathon in under two hours.

He's looking to shave off the extra 26 seconds after his failed attempt in Monza in 2017. His second attempt will happen in Vienna on October 12.

The Kenyan has found a course in Austria where he's using the latest technology and training techniques to break the two-hour barrier.

He's full of confidence this time around.

"I have no doubts at all," the 34-year-old [said]("I have no doubts at all.).

Why is Caster Semenya banned from running the 800m at the IAAF World Championships?

The South African double world champion 800m runner was preparing to defend her title but has been banned from competing awaiting the outcome of her appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

Semenya is challenging a Court of Arbitration of Sport decision that backed the IAAF’S rule on athletes with differences in sexual development (DSD) like Semenya.

The 28-year-old is free to race in distances not affected by the ruling, but she insists she will only compete at the worlds if she can defend her title.

Semenya can't run any event with distances from 400m to the mile (1.61km) without lowering her testosterone to the level recommended by the IAAF.

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A championship of many firsts

Doha will become the first city in the Middle East to host the world championships.

It's the biggest sporting event the country has ever seen.

It's seen as a precursor to the FIFA World Cup that will take place in Qatar in 2022.

Like the plans for the football grounds, the Khalifa International Stadium will be air conditioned.

Something else the fans will notice when they enter the cooled stadium is the unique pink track.

The world championships track has mainly been blue or terracotta brick red.

The organisers wanted to personalise its prefabricated surface to match the look and feel of the event.

The mixed relay.

What time is the marathon at the IAAF World Championships and why?

To avoid the Gulf heat, both the men's and women's marathon will start at midnight local time. Well, 2359 to avoid confusion!!!

Even so, temperatures are still expected to be above 25C (77F).

The competitors can expect to see neon lights across the route that will take in Doha's waterfront.

"For spectators to see that backdrop as well is impressive," marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe said.

"And hopefully we’re going to see some really good performances."

Late World Championships

Since the first edition in 1976 held on September 18, the World Championships has always been held in summer.

The event in Doha will be held in autumn, after the Diamond League series, when most of the athletes have finished their season.

There will also be a tweak to the athletics programme which will have no morning sessions.

The new format will see split evening sessions, a first, in the 17 editions of the championships. There will be a break for entertainment and family activities.

It will also see the debut of the 4x400m mixed gender relay ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Highlights by day:

You can find the full timetable by day on the IAAF site here.

We have had a look through the schedule and here are some of the highlights, and athletes to watch, listed in Doha time (GMT in brackets):

Day 1, Thursday 27 September

16:35 (13:35) Men's 100m heats - Justin Gatlin, Christian Coleman (USA), Divine Oduduru (Nigeria)

17:10 (14:10) Women's 800m heats - Ajee Wilson (USA), Natoya Goule (Jamaica), Eunice Sum (Kenya)

23:59 (20:59) Women’s marathon - Edna Kiplagat (Kenya), Ruth Chepngetich (Kenya), Ruti Aga (Ethiopia), Worknesh Degefa (Ethiopia)

Day 2, Friday 28 September

16:30 (13:30) Women’s 100m heats - Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson (Jamaica), Dina Asher-Smith (Britain), Marie-Josee Ta Lou (Ivory Coast), Dafne Schipper (Netherlands)

18:05 (15:05) Men’s 400m hurdles semi-finals - Rai Benjamin (USA), Abderrahman Samba (Qatar), Karsten Warholm (Norway)

18:45 (15:45) Men's 100m semi-finals

19:25 (16:25) Women's hammer final - Wang Zheng (China), Gwen Berry, DeAnna Price (USA)

20:40 (17:40) Men’s long jump final - Luvo Manyonga (South Africa), Juan Miguel Echevarria (Cuba), Jeff Henderson (USA)

21:10 (18:10) Women’s 10,000m final - Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia), Hellen Obiri (Kenya), Sifan Hassan (Netherlands)

22:15 (19:15) Men’s 100m final

23:30 (20:30) Men's 50km race walk final - Yohann Diniz (France)

23:30 (20:30) Women's 50km race walk final - Ines Henriques (Portugal)

Day 3, Saturday 29 September

20:05 (17:05) Men’s 200m heats - Noah Lyles, Christian Coleman (USA), Divine Oduduru, Zhenye Xie (China)

20:40 (17:40) Women’s pole vault final - Katerina Stefanidi (Greece), Jennifer Suhr, Sandi Morris (USA)

21:20 (18:20) Women's 100m semi-finals

21:45 (18:45) Men's triple jump final - Christian Taylor, Will Claye (USA)

22:35 (19:35) Mixed 4x400m relay final

23:20 (20:20) Women’s 100m final

23:30 (20:30) Women's 20km race walk final - Yang Jiayu, Qieyang Shenjie (China), Antonella Palmisano (Italy)

Day 4, Sunday 30 September

20:30 (17:30) Women's high jump final - Mariya Lasitskene (Authorised Neutral Athlete)

20:50 (17:50) Men's 200m semi-finals

21:15 (18:15) Men's discus final - Daniel Stahl (Sweden), Andrius Gudzius (Lithuania), Christoph Harting (Germany), Federick Dacres (Jamaica)

21:20 (18:20) Men’s 5000m final - Jamal Eisa Mohammed (Athlete Refugee Team), Selemon Barega (Ethiopia), Nicholas Kimeli (Kenya), Paul Chelimo (USA), Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Norway)

21:50 (18:50) Women's 3000m steeplechase final - Emma Coburn (USA), Beatrice Chepkoech (Kenya)

22:10 (19:10) Women’s 800m final

22:40 (19:40) Men's 400m hurdles final

Day 5, Monday 1 October

20:05 (17:05) Men’s pole vault final - Armand Duplantis (Sweden), Sam Kendricks (USA), Renaud Lavillenie (France), Piotr Lisek (Poland)

21:20 (18:20) Women's javelin final - Lu Huihui (China), Barbora Spotakova (Czech Republic), Christin Hussong (Germany), Kelsey-Lee Barber (Australia)

22:10 (19:10) Men’s 800m final - Nijel Amos (Botswana), Brandon McBride (Canada), Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (France), Ayanleh Souleiman (Djibouti), Donovan Brazier (USA)

22:40 (19:40) Men’s 200m final

Day 6, Tuesday 2 October

20:35 (17:35) Men’s 400m semi-finals Michael Norman, Fred Kerley (USA), Akeem Bloomfield (Jamaica)

21:40 (18:40) Men's hammer final - Wojciech Nowicki, Pawel Fajdek (Poland)

22:35 (19:35) Women’s 200m final - Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson (Jamaica), Dina Asher-Smith (Great Britain), Dafne Schippers (Netherlands)

22:55 (19:55) Men’s 110m hurdles final - Omari McLeod (Jamaica), Grant Holloway, Daniel Roberts (USA), Orlando Ortega (Spain), Sergey Shubenkov (Authorised Neutral Athlete)

Day 7, Wednesday 3 October

22:35 (19:35) Women's shot put final - Gong Lijiao (China), Chase Ealey (USA)

23:50 (20:50) Women’s 400m final - Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas), Salwa Eid Naser (Bahrain)

00:05 (23:05) Men's decathlon 1500m - Kevin Mayer (France)

00:25 (23:25) Women's heptathlon 800m - Nafi Thiam (Belgium), Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Britain)

Day 8, Thursday 4 October

20:15 (17:15) Men’s high jump - Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar), Michael Mason (Canada), Wang Yu (China), Stefano Sottile, Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy), Naoto Tobe (Japan)

21:00 (18:00) Women's discus final - Sandra Perkovic (Croatia), Yaime Perez, Denia Caballero (Cuba)

21:45 (18:45) Men’s 3,000m steeplechase final - Conseslus Kipruto, Benjamin Kigen (Kenya), Fernando Carro (Spain), Soufiane El Bakkali (Morocco)

21:30 (18:30) Women’s 400m hurdles final - Dalilah Muhammad, Sydney McLaughlin (USA), Zusana Hejnova (Czech Republic)

22:20 (19:20) Men’s 400m final

23:30 (20:30) Men's 20km race walk final - Caio Bonfim (Brazil), Toshikazu Yamanishi (Japan)

Day 9, Friday 5 October

20:05 (17:05) Men's shot put - Tomas Walsh (New Zealand), Ryan Crouser (USA), Darlan Romani (Brazil)

20:35 (17:35) Women’s triple jump final - Caterine Ibarguen (Colombia), Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela)

20:55 (17:55) Women's 1500m final - Faith Kipyegon (Kenya), Jennifer Simpson (USA), Laura Muir (Britain)

21:25 (18:25) Women's 5000m final - Hellen Obiri (Kenya), Sifan Hassan (Netherlands), Letesenbet Gidey (Ethiopia)

22:05 (19:05) Women's 4x100m relay final

22:15 (19:15) Men’s 4x100m relay final

23:59 (20:59) Men’s marathon - Geoffrey Kirui (Kenya), Mosinet Giremew, Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia)

Day 10, Saturday 6 October

19:15 (16:15) Women's long jump final - Britney Reese (USA), Malaika Mihambo (Germany)

19:40 (16:40) Men’s 1500m final - Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Norway), Ayanleh Souleiman (Djibouti), Ronald Musagala (Uganda), Marcin Lewandowski (Poland), Matthew Centrowitz (USA)

19:55 (16:55) Men’s javelin final - Thomas Roehler, Johannes Vetter (Germany), Julius Yego (Kenya), Magnus Kirt (Estonia)

20:00 (17:00) Men’s 10,000m final - Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda), Rhonex Kipruto (Kenya), Hagos Gebrihwet, Selemon Barega (Ethiopia)

20:50 (17:50) Women's 100m hurdles final - Elvira Herman (Belarus), Danielle Williams, Janeek Brown (Jamaica), Tobi Amusan (Nigeria), Kendra Harrison, Nia Ali (USA)

21:15 (18:15) Women's 4x100m relay final

21:30 (18:30) Men’s 4x400m relay final