Category Archives: Athletics World Championships

The IPC Athletic World Championships: World Class Athletes to watch

By Helen Owton & Karen Howells

Doha, Qatar’s largest growing city and economic centre of Qatar modern will host the IPC Athletics World Championships between 21st and 31st October. Against a backdrop of pollution and in a city that was built on the pearl trade, British athletes will compete amongst 1,300 athletes from 90 countries in a variety of track and field events across a number of different classifications. The IPC has revealed a list of 33 athletes, including a number of British athletes to look out for. Here we look at a selection of those to watch as this is the last major event before Rio Paralympics 2016.

2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, Doha, Qatar

Aled Davies – F42 Discus and Shot Put

Like many successful athletes Aled Davies came from a sports-loving family; as a child he was a good rugby player, a strong swimmer and was selected to swim for Wales. However, at the age of 14, he was invited to try-out for athletics with a group of elite Paralympians which introduced Davies to the throwing events. Born with hemimelia of the right leg, Davies announced to his parents whilst watching the 2004 Athens Paralympic games that he wanted to win a Paralympic gold medal. In 2012, his dream became a reality when he won Gold in the F42 discus and a bronze medal in the shot put. Not only has he won Paralympic medals, but he is the current World and European Champion in the discus and the shot put and World record holder in F42 shot put. Last year, however, appeared to be a difficult year for him. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the F42/44 discus he felt he was thwarted in the final to lose to England’s Dan Greaves and returned to Wales with a silver medal. The year also saw him make the decision to leave his coach of nine years to work with Cardiff’s Ryan Spencer-Jones. Under the guidance of his new coach, these World championships see him lighter, stronger, more technical and more motivated towards medal success; this will be the opportunity to put the disappointment of the last year behind him and to further lay the foundations for success in Rio next year.

Sophie Hahn – T38 100m and 200m

Eighteen year old Sophie Hahn is like any other fun-loving teenager from Leicestershire, she enjoys music, loves animals and enjoys watching rugby. Her friends from her last school affectionately called her Chicken; a derivative of the German meaning of her surname. Like many other girls her age she was enthused by London 2012 and was inspired to join her local Athletics club. But unlike other girls her age Sophie is a World Champion and a World Record Holder in her sport. Only a year after she started running in 2012, Hahn, who has cerebral palsy, competed as a novice at the 2013 IPC Word Championships at the age of 16. At this competition, she faced another novice to international sport in the T38 200m starting a rivalry that is likely to be continued against the backdrop of Doha. Hahn, won her qualifying heat of the 200m with a time of 27.56, a championship record, however, the accolade was short-lived as Veronica Hipolito from Brazil beat her in the final taking both the gold medal and the championship record. Two days later, Hahn turned the tables in the 100m, shattering Hipolito’s world record which had been set in the semi-finals to win gold. Even going beyond this rivalry the T38 class promises to be highly competitive with Russia’s 100m Paralympic and European champion Margarita Gonchorova and China’s 200m Paralympic gold medallist Junfei Chen both vying for medal success.

Hannah Cockcroft, MBE

As a role model to Sophie Hahn, the unbeaten four-time world champion ‘Team Hannah’ is aiming to win three world titles in 2015. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, she won 100m and 200m T34 titles and she is set on retaining her world titles at the next World Championships. Having proved her dominance in the sprint events, ‘Hurricane Hannah’ has now set herself a new goal of winning gold in the 800m which appears to be the event she is most determined to win. Last year she won gold at the IPC European Championships in T34 100m and T34 800m. Also, at the IPC Grand Prix she three gold medal; T34 100m, 200m, and 800m, beating Australian rival Rosemary Little. She hold the world record in 4 events: T34 100m (17.31), 200m (30.51), 400m (59.42), 800m (2:04.49) While she keeps a very impressive catalogue of world records and medals, Cockcroft appears to be sufficiently motivated to balance her training with her academic studies by completing a Journalism and Media degree at Coventry University. As she says, “You have to keep working to keep winning”.

Stef ‘the blade stunner’ Reid

Stef Reid is also from Leicestershire; she started competing for Great Britain in 2010. In 2011, she won bronze medals in the 200m and long jump at the IPC Athletics World Championships. In the last Paralympics in London 2012, she won Silver in the T42-44 long jump. In 2013, she had a difficult year, but in 2014 she was back to her best (if not better) by setting a new long jump T44 world record in Glasgow. Also, she appears to be stretching the boundaries for disabled people. She is not only a Paralympian (2014 T44 European long jump Champion; London 2012 T42-44 long jump silver), but also a role model who became the first Paralympian amputee to be part of London Fashion week as a catwalk model which also helps raise the profile of women, Paralympians and disability. The forthcoming the IPC Athletics World Championships will be an opportunity to show off her form in preparation for her aims of winning gold in the Rio Paralympic Games next year.

Stef Reid: A life-changing ambition to win Gold

There are too many world class GB athletes to single out in this article, but we also recommend watching out for Richard Whitehead (T44 200m gold medallist in 2012), Jonnie Peacock (T44 100m gold medallist in 2012), David Weir (800m, 1500m, 5,000m and marathon gold medallist in 2012), Paul Blake (silver in T36 400m and bronze in T36 800m in 2012), the SportAid one to watch – Hollie Arnold (ranked No 1 in the world), and newcomer Sophie Kamlish (T44 100m and 200m). David Weir argues that the momentum has been lost since 2012 and 2013 but this is an exciting event not to be missed as this is probably the last big event before the Rio Paralympic Games 2016.

1 Year To Go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

The astonishing comebacks at the Athletics World Championships

By Helen Owton


It seems to be the year of the comeback at the Athletics World Championships in Beijing. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, widely tipped to lose out to US runner Justin Gatlin, ran a time of 9:77 in the 100m final to beat his rivals and retain his title as world champion. It has been described as the most important win of an already stellar career.

Bolt had been recovering from an injury and had struggled with his form. It appears to have had a sacroiliac joint block, which was restricting his movement and causing him pain in his leg.

This type of injury can be a common problem for athletes, but it is under-researched so treatment and recovery is complex. The fact that Bolt had to overcome this poorly understood condition will make his victory all the sweeter.

British long-distance runner Mo Farah also fought back in the early days of the competition to win the 10,000m in style, notwithstanding one small stumble.

Farah has been engulfed in controversy in recent months after his trainer, Alberto Salazar, was the subject of doping allegations levelled in a BBC Panorama documentary. There is no suggestion that Farah himself was involved in, or had any knowledge of doping, but the intense media scrutiny to which he was subjected would not have made preparation for Beijing easy.


Jessica Ennis-Hill achieved a comeback of a different kind in Beijing. Ennis-Hill returned to athletics this year after having a child. While in my research I acknowledge that sport is a psychologically empowering force for mothers, it can also lead to conflict between the competing roles of athlete and parenthood. And since the London 2012 Olympics, Ennis-Hill has changed both physically and psychologically. It was fascinating to see her new body and self perform. She is an inspiration, having won a gold medal in the heptathlon.

With Bolt, Farah and Ennis-Hill retaining their titles, will any others follow in their footsteps to make their comeback this week?

Caster Semenya

For me, one of the most unforgettable memories in recent athletics history was the women’s 800m at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009. The women gathered themselves for the final. BANG. They sprint out of the blocks and take the bend. Caster Semenya sits behind the front runner, then at 52 seconds into the race, she overtakes to lead from the front. She speeds ahead, breaks away, glances back but the others have no response. She completely dominates the last half of the race and finishes with a time of 1:55:46.

Since this phenomenal performance, instead of being hailed a star, Semenya has been at the centre of huge controversy over her gender and which prevented her from competing until the following year. This has undoubtedly had an impact on her motivation and her personal best time.

Despite the adversity she experienced, Semenya was back at her best, or near it, at the IAAF World Championships in 2011 when she won silver in the 800m. Here’s hoping she can pull through for another astonishing victory this year.

Christine Ohuruogu

Christine Ohuruogu is making a return to defend her 400m world title in Beijing. Over the years, like many athletes, she has experienced injuries – and she was also suspended for a year after missing three doping tests in a row in 2006.

Often talented athletes are pushed into the limelight without being prepared for media attention and being subjected to public scrutiny. Nonetheless, Ohuruogu has a habit of being unpredictable and can pull out fast times when they’re least expected.

Dina Asher-Smith

Dina Asher-Smith, also part of the Great Britain squad, is one of many of the young athletes to watch in the 200m. She broke Britain’s national 100m record earlier this year.

Smoke gets in their eyes

There are some elements of unpredictability ahead for athletics. In 2008, Beijing went to additional lengths to cut down on the city’s infamous air pollution for the sake of competing athletes, but for the IAAF World Championships 2015, this hasn’t happened.

British athletes have been given “pollution packs” but for athletes with asthma, this high level of pollution can alter the airways’ responsiveness and can cause long-term damage.

In 2008, human rights activists highlighted the fact that child athletes’ civil rights, legal rights and above all, their human rights are ignored in China. Amid the individual performances, there are certainly some more opportunities for new and evolving stories to be developed at this World Championships.

UPDATE: the original version of this piece misstated the name of Justin Gatlin, and claimed Semenya broke the World Record in 2009. She did not.

The Conversation

Helen Owton, Lecturer in Sport & Fitness, The Open University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Records to beat and battles to watch at the World Athletics Championships

By Candice Lingam-Willgoss

This year’s World Athletics Championships kicking off in Beijing couldn’t come at a better time for many athletes. It is a chance for athletic performance to take centre stage, a change in focus from the recent doping controversy that has shrouded the sport.

While we know that three medals will be awarded for each event, what is less known is which records may fall. So far this year, 11 world records have been broken in indoor and outdoor events. But some athletics records have stood for decades, and will take some beating.

So which are the events with the most giant-slaying potential? Here’s a quick guide.

Women’s events

Many of the women’s events have long-standing records. The women’s 100m record of 10.49 seconds, set by Florence Griffith-Joyner, remains unbeaten since 1988. In men’s events, Michael Johnson’s 400m world record of 43:18 set in 1999 still stands today.

Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk is the hammer to beat.
EPA/Piotr Wittman

Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk has already posted a world-record throw in the women’s hammer this year, so undoubtedly is the favourite in Beijing. She is tipped to better her 81.08m throw set at the Festival of Throwers meeting in Cetniewo, Poland, a monumental distance and the first time the 80m barrier has been broken by a woman. Such a huge improvement suggests that Wlodarczyk has the potential to throw even further in Beijing.

Giant leaps

Like Johnson’s long-standing 400m record, another that has stood for 20 years is Jonathan Edwards’s triple jump record – currently at 18.28m.

Current Olympic champion Christian Taylor is still 23cm short of this, but this record is what he has his sights on, and has been his goal since entering the sport.

Christian Taylor is the current Olympic champion triple jumper.
EPA/Olivier Anrigo

Taylor will have some competition in the shape of Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo who recently jumped out to 18.06 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha. This competition could be the one to see this long-standing record fall.

Bolt v Gatlin

It will take a record-breaking time to win the 4x100m men’s relay. The event which will see Jamaica’s team (featuring the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt) take on America (featuring Justin Gatlin).

Bolt vs Gatlin: the high-speed duel everyone’s been talking about.
EPA/Thierry Roge

The Bolt/Gatlin showdown is hotly anticipated and the two athletes will first face each other in the men’s 100m. At 33, Gatlin is five years older than Bolt and has twice been found guilty of doping. Much has been made of this contest and many have suggested that Gatlin will not only take Bolt’s 100m title but will also claim his world record, which was set in 2009.

Long walk to stardom

While the 100m is undoubtedly the most hyped, the 20km walk could also see a new record set. Research has frequently cited the benefits of competing at home and this could well be the case for Liu Hong as she attempts to go faster than her 1.24.38 time set at the Premio Cantones de Marcha – the Spanish leg of the 2015 IAAF Race Walking Challenge in La Coruna.

China’s golden walker, Liu Hong.
Denis Balibouse/Reuters

Briton Mo Farah also has the potential to break records in Beijing. He is in the form of his life, having broken the two mile indoor record earlier this year. While Farah has said the wins are the priority he hasn’t ruled out tackling Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele’s 5,000m (12:37.35) and 10,000m (26:17.53) outdoor records.

What is certain is that the coming nine days of competition guarantee to have their fair share of drama, medals and hopefully some record-breaking performances.

The Conversation

Candice Lingam-Willgoss is Lecturer in Sport & Fitness at The Open University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.