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Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 13:33 UK

World athletics predictions

Venue: Olympic Stadium, Berlin Date: 15-23 August
Coverage: Watch the action live and highlights on BBC Two, BBC HD, Red Button, Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website (video for UK users only)
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Mark Butler
By Mark Butler
BBC Sport's athletics statistician

The days before the World Championships are very busy for me as I work through the thousands of names on the provisional entry list and strive to update my records for each and every one of them.

They range from 20-year-old sprinter Okilani Tinilau, the first athlete from Tuvalu to compete in the World Championships, to evergreen German discus thrower Franka Dietzsch, who at 41 will contest her 10th.


The global breadth and depth of participation is one of athletics' great strengths and leads to its unpredictability.

That is why it is risky to make predictions, but it is fun to try and therefore below are my gold medal 'picks' for each event. I would be delighted to be proved wrong in at least one case.

In making these picks, current form is important but I also take into account those who we know are able to raise their game in championships.

I also like to consider who might be the hungrier athletes, those who must feel it is their turn for gold. Finally, I try to expect where the unexpected might occur.

There are always upsets at big meetings like these.


100m: Usain Bolt JAM

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt could win over both 100m and 200m

200m: Usain Bolt JAM

400m: LaShawn Merritt USA

800m: Ahmad Ismail SUD

1500m: Deresse Mekonnen ETH

5,000m: Eliud Kipchoge KEN

10,000m: Kenenisa Bekele ETH

Marathon: Tsegay Kebede ETH

3,000m steeplechase: Mahiedine Mekhissi FRA

110m hurdles: Dayron Robles CUB

400m hurdles: LJ van Zyl RSA

High jump: Ivan Ukhov RUS

Pole vault: Renaud Lavillenie FRA

Long jump: Dwight Phillips USA

Triple jump: Phillips Idowu GBR

Shot put: Tomasz Majewski POL

Discus: Gerd Kanter EST

Hammer: Krisztián Pars HUN

Javelin: Andrea Thorkildsen NOR

Decathlon: Leonel Suárez CUB

20km walk: Giorgio Rubino ITA

50km walk: Yohann Diniz FRA

4x100m relay: United States

4x400m relay: United States


100m: Kerron Stewart JAM

Jessica Ennis
Ennis is favourite to win the women's heptathlon

200m: Allyson Felix USA

400m: Sanya Richards USA

800m: Hasna Benhassi MAR

1500m: Anna Alminova RUS

5,000m: Meseret Defar ETH

10,000m: Tirunesh Dibaba ETH

Marathon: Sabrina Mockenhaupt GER

3,000m steeplechase: Marta Dominguez ESP

100m hurdles: Sally McLellan AUS

400m hurdles: Lashinda Demus USA

High jump: Blanka Vlasic CRO

Pole vault: Yelena Isinbayeva RUS

Long jump: Naide Gomes POR

Triple jump: Yargelis Savigne CUB

Shot put: Valerie Vili NZL

Discus: Yania Ferrales CUB

Hammer: Anna Wlodarczyk POL

Javelin: Christina Obergföll GER

Heptathlon: Jessica Ennis GBR

20km walk: Olga Kaniskina RUS

4x100m relay: United States

4x400m relay: United States


Everyone is asking me about Britain's prospects. In June I said I felt heptathlete Jessica Ennis could spearhead Britain's women's best-ever medal haul .

Phillips Idowu
Idowu must overcome Olympic champ Evora to win gold

Unfortunately this is much less likely now that injury has robbed us of Mara Yamauchi, Tasha Danvers and Kelly Sotherton, while Christine Ohuruogu has also had difficulties this summer.

Yamauchi in particular is a big loss now that the favourite, double winner Irina Mikitenko, has also withdrawn from the marathon.

We still do not know if Paula Radcliffe will even start that race, so I won't speculate on her chances.

It's clear that Britain have three solid medal prospects in Berlin: Ennis, Ohuruogu (400m) and Phillips Idowu in the triple jump.

Each have formidable opponents to whom it would be no disgrace to lose: Natalya Dobrynska, Sanya Richards and Nélson Evora respectively.

Where could our other medals come from? With Jamaica's men having an off-year in the one-lap event, I feel the men's 4x400m relay team have the best chance.

Their success would be fitting as this event supplied one of our two athletics golds here in Berlin at the 1936 Olympics (the other was the 50km walk where we have no entrant this time).

The women's 4x400m team also have a good chance, especially as Belarus - who beat us in Beijing - have no entry this time.

Rounding out my "big six" would be Mo Farah, who is at the peak of his powers and is certainly ahead of the schedule he was in 2007, when he led at the bell in the 5,000m final.

There are 13 further British athletes entered for Berlin who and currently ranked in positions 8-20 in the world in their chosen event.

We can hope that some of them can make finals and preferably finish in the top eight, and therefore contribute to the placement table which I feel is a more accurate measure of a country's prowess than medals alone.

However, remember that this time last year Tasha Danvers and Germaine Mason were each regarded as no better than potential finalists, yet both went on to win Olympic medals.


Year Gold Silver Bronze 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th Medals Points
1983 2 2 3 5 5 1 3 2 7 104
1987 1 3 4 1 4 1 4 3 8 88
1991 2 2 3 3 2 1 1 - 7 76
1993 3 3 4 3 1 1 1 2 10 95
1995 1 3 1 2+1 tie 3 3 4 - 5 78.5
1997 1 4 1 3+1 tie 2 2 1 1 6 78.5
1999 1 4 2 1 2 1 2 2 7 70
2001 1 - 1 2 5 3 2 1 2 58
2003 - 1 2 3 1 2 1 - 3 46
2005 1 - 2 1 2 - - 1 3 34
2007 1 1 3 3 - 4 - 1 5 61
Totals 14 23 26 27+2 ties27 19 19 13 63 789

Eight points are given for a gold medal down to one for eighth place. Points are shared in the case of a tie.

see also
GB stars set sights on World gold
14 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Radcliffe wins NY half-marathon
16 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Jamaican stars cleared for Berlin
12 Aug 09 |  Athletics
When Boxer set the standard
04 Aug 09 |  Athletics
Richards set for 400m landmark
09 Jul 09 |  Athletics
Medals, money or both?
12 Jun 09 |  Athletics
GB women show Berlin credentials
03 Jun 09 |  Athletics
When is a record not a record?
19 Feb 09 |  Athletics

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