BEIJING: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will look to follow Usain Bolt by winning her third 100 meters world title when she takes center-stage at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium on Monday.
A day after fellow Jamaican Bolt’s thrilling win over America’s Justin Gatlin at the world championships, Fraser-Pryce is strongly favored to add to her titles from 2009 and 2013.
Victory at the Bird’s Nest, where she won the first of her two Olympic titles in 2008, would also make the 28-year-old the first woman to be crowned world 100m champion three times.
The 1.52m (five foot) Jamaican has bounced back from an indifferent 2014 to win three Diamond League races in 2015 and post the year’s fastest time of 10.74sec.
Her biggest threat looms from America’s Tori Bowie, who was joint-fastest with the Jamaican in Sunday’s heats, and English Gardner, whose 10.79sec is the second quickest this year.
Meanwhile France’s Renaud Lavillenie, the Olympic champion and world record holder, is bidding to end his world championship hoodoo in the men’s pole vault.
Lavillenie’s previous world challenges fell flat in Berlin, Daegu and Moscow but he has come back strongly this season after a shoulder injury, recording a personal-best outdoor mark of 6.05 meters in Eugene.
Defending champion Raphael Holzdeppe has also returned from injury and has hit form just at the right time for Beijing, while Canada’s Shawn Barber will also look to pounce on any sign of weakness from Lavillenie, who beat Sergey Bubka’s world record of 6.15m by 1cm indoors in Donetsk last year.
In the women’s triple jump, Colombian Caterine Ibarguen is the heaviest of favourites to retain her title after winning an astonishing 28 straight competitions.
And in the men’s 400m heats Kirani James, the reigning Olympic champion, will resume his battle with America’s LaShawn Merritt, who won Olympic gold at the Bird’s Nest in 2008.