Tuesday, 13 June 2017 00:58

10 HURDLERS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2017

The world's best athletes will be back in the London Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 4-13 August. Here are 10 hurdlers we think fans should watch out for in the run-up to the IAAF World Championships London 2017.


Andrew Pozzi: almost four years of perpetual injury for the British sprint hurdler look to be a thing of the past now and Pozzi, who won the European Indoor Championships 60m hurdles title earlier this year, is primed to make his mark on an international competition outdoors.

He's enjoyed a promising start to the outdoor season sitting eighth on the world list, has equalled his personal best and is yet to execute a race to the standards he is clearly capable of. Once London arrives, expect to see the 25-year-old among the frontrunners for a medal.

Omar McLeod: the Jamaican powerhouse is not only the Olympic champion, but also the first man ever to run under 10 and 13 seconds in both the 100m and 110m hurdles. He has already established himself again as the man to beat in 2017.

McLeod is edging close to becoming the first athlete to run sub-13 this year and is unbeaten so far. He has the chance to add the world outdoor to Olympic and world indoor golds, and at just 23 there looks to be so much more to come.

Aries Merritt: both the world record-holder and 2012 Olympic champion achieved arguably his greatest feat at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing where he won a bronze medal just days before undergoing a kidney transplant.

It's been a tough journey for the American since his crowning glory five years ago, but Merritt is returning to form at just the right time. Provided he gets through the pressure cooker of the US trials, Merritt has the experience in London and pedigree to be back atop the podium once more.

Nicholas Bett: the men's 400m hurdles is yet to light up in 2017, but Kenya's defending world champion will be an athlete to keep an eye on as the IAAF World Championships London 2017 approach. Bett became the first Kenyan to win gold over the hurdles in Beijing.

He didn't have it good in Rio on his Olympic debut though, hitting the final barrier in his heat and trailing through way back before having his disappointment confounded by being disqualified. He's yet to open his season, but the Kenyan history-maker will be out to rediscover his 2015 form when he begins.

Abderrahman Samba: one of the surprise names among the top 400m hurdlers in 2017 so far is the unknown Qatari Abderrahman Samba. Samba, on his Diamond League debut, produced some fascinating viewing when he was clear winner in Doha.

With many of the top names yet to produce the goods in 2017, including all three Olympic medallists, the 400m hurdles holds a great deal of uncertainty and unpredictability. Samba is one of few so far to push himself to the fore and will be intriguing to see how he progresses.

Keni Harrison: currently one of the hottest properties in world athletics, Harrison is arguably the athlete to keep an eye on in 2017 given her record last year. The American broke a 28-year-old world record in London last year, emerging as one of the most exciting athletes in recent years.

Harrison suffered the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics after succumbing to the pressure of the American trials, but is guaranteed a place in the London World Championship team. She has already achieved something monumental in the London Stadium and stands to continue pushing the boundaries in the 100m hurdles.

 

Sally Pearson: the Australian was once the dominant force in sprint hurdling, but has spent the past four years in a near-constant battle against injury. However, Pearson, 2011 world and 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles champion, at last appears to be on top of the problems that have blighted her in recent years.

She has already gained selection to her country's team to compete in London, boasts a formidable major championship record when fit and is one of the fiercest competitors around. Pearson is heading in the right direction at just the right time.

Cindy Ofili: Ofili is one of the host nation's rising stars of athletics and the 22-year-old's talent was accentuated by her fourth-placed finish over the 100m hurdles at the Rio Olympic Games last year. She's yet to find form this summer but has time on her side.

Ofili enjoys a close bond yet strong rivalry with sister Tiffany Porter – the British record-holder – and the sisters will be out to make an impact in their home championships. The younger of the pair enjoyed the better 2016 and will want to go one better than she did in Brazil.

 

Dalilah Muhammad: Muhammad became the first female American to win the 400m hurdles Olympic title and did so in very impressive fashion, dominating the final from start to finish. Over the course of 2016 she became the first athlete in three years to run under 53 seconds.

Four years ago Muhammad won the World Championship silver and now at 27 years of age the American is coming into her peak years. She faces significant competition from a deep pool of athletes in the US, some of whom have started the outdoor season in better form, but Muhammad's Olympic performances stand her out as one to watch.

Sydney McLaughlin: the American turned 17 just days before making her Olympic debut and made the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles, showing there's a lot to be excited about in McLaughlin. The high school student has since come on leaps and bounds this year.

A 54.03 personal best set earlier this month saw McLaughlin become the world junior record-holder while she has also run World Championship qualifying times for both the 200m and 400m flat this summer – not even her specialist events. The youngster is a serious talent and is already producing world-class performances.