MOSCOW, Russia, August 10- All eyes will be on the blue riband event of the men’s 100m on the second day of action at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow on Sunday, which also features a mouth-watering women’s 10,000m.
Provided both come through Saturday evening’s heats and Sunday’s earlier semi-finals safely, then the race should, at least on paper, come down to a head-to-head between Usain Bolt and American Justin Gatlin.
Gatlin’s teammate Tyson Gay is absent after testing positive for drugs, just as Bolt’s compatriot Asafa Powell did, stripping the field of the closest competition to the headlined duo.
Ethiopian track star Tirunesh Dibaba will be the main attraction in the women’s 10,000m as she seeks to add the world title to her two Olympic crowns over the distance — she already twice won the world title in 2005 and 2009.
Dibaba, who will be up against her compatriot and long-time rival Meseret Defar, missed the Daegu worlds because of injury but has never lost in her 10 outings over 25 laps of the track.
Defar failed to finish in Daegu, but she has the world’s fastest time this year of 30:08.06, impressively the 10th-fastest performance of all-time and the best in the world for almost four years.
Kenya will be there in their bid to help dent Ethiopian hopes, although the Kenyan trio does not feature the 2011 world champion Vivian Cheruiyot, who is on maternity leave from the sport, but Emily Chebet, Gladys Cherono and Sally Chepyego, a powerful threesome on the track all the same.
The evening will also see the denouement of the decathlon, the second day of action featuring the 110m hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin and the 1500m.
The first final of the day is the 20km walk, although the Russian crowd will be disappointed that defending world champion Valery Borchin is out injured, home hopes now riding with Alexander Ivanov, former world and European junior champion Andrey Ruzavin and 2013 European Cup winner Denis Strelkov.
That trio face a tough task against the quintet that took the first five places at the London Olympics.
But Chen Ding, winner in the British capital, has not finished a race since becoming the youngest ever race walking gold medallist at the age of 19.
Chinese teammates Wang Zhen and Cai Zelin, third and fourth respectively in London, have been in much better form and should contest well for the podium.
Silver medallist in London was Erick Barrondo, who became Guatemala’s first ever Olympic medallist in any sport. He will race in Moscow but has had a variable season.
There are also finals in the women’s long jump and discus.