Stars to watch

Though some of the popular names will be missing — either due to injury or caught doping — the World Championships still have a lot to offer. Stan Rayan on athletes who could set the meet on fire.

FLYING MO

There’s a lot running in Mo Farah’s head these days. The Somalia-born Brit is a distance great, the London Olympics 5000 and 10,000m champion, but Farah has planned a race against sprint sensation Usain Bolt in the near future. Of course, it will be for charity and over 600 or 800m.

The ‘Flying Mo’, as he called himself in a recent tweet, is in great shape to win a 5000-10,000 double at the Moscow Worlds but interestingly, he dropped down to the 1500m and broke the British record of the great Steve Cram recently. It also placed him sixth in the event’s all-time world list.

How will Farah fare if he goes for the 800m, is the question many are now asking. But the king of the distances is planning to try the marathon next year and run the event along with the 10,000 at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

SPEED BOLT

He was not the ‘fastest man’ at the last Worlds in Daegu, a false start sending him out in 2011. But the question these days is not whether Usain Bolt will win the 100m in Moscow but just how fast he can go.

A recent study said Bolt, who reached a speed of 12.2m per second, equivalent to about 27 mph while setting the World record of 9.58s in Berlin in 2009, could run faster with a helpful wind.

The World record came with a tailwind of only 0.9 metres per second and since records are legal up to a maximum wind speed of 2m per second, Bolt, who is blessed with a large stride but not a perfect start, has a good chance of going faster.

With some of the world’s top sprinters in the doping net or out with injury, Jamaican Bolt may not be pushed to 100 and 200m World records in Moscow but for sure, his celebrations will lift the sport.

ON A HIGH

There is one athlete who is literally flying these days. We’re talking about high jumper Bohdan Bondarenko who went over 2.41m at the recent Diamond League meet in Lausanne. That was the best men’s high jump in the world since 1994.

The 23-year-old World No. 1 tried to attack the World record (2.46m) of Cuban Javier Sotomayor set in 1993, next, but he failed.

With Qatar’s 22-year-old Mutaz Essa Barshim, who is second in the World list this season, soaring to 2.40m at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League in June, there should be an interesting tussle, probably even a World record if the setting is right, in Moscow.

DIBABA EYES A DOUBLE

Mo Farah will not be the only one looking for a distance double.

Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, will be hunting for it too with her teammate Meseret Defar forcing her to fight in both events.

Dibaba, the London Olympics 10,000 champion — her sister Genzebe will be running in the 1500m in Moscow — is the fastest 5000m runner in the world this season while Defar is the best over 10,000.

For Dibaba, who won the double at the 2005 Worlds and 2008 Olympics but missed the last two Worlds, it will be a very happy comeback if she lands the two golds.