Women's 800m - Daegu Preview
Provided by IAAF
World Indoor gold medallist and and reigning European outdoor champion Mariya Savinova will be aiming to become the first Russian to clinch the 800m title since Liliya Nurutdinova triumphed 20 years ago in Japan the last of the Championships four year cycle.
Nurutdinova in the heat and humidity of Tokyo's 1964 Olympic stadium and representing a side competing for the last time in the colours of the Soviet Union (USSR) - in December 1991 it became the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - led for almost the entire race won in a season's best of 1:57.50.
But since those revolutionary days and the passing of Communist rule, Russia of which the 28-year-old gold medallist was a resident, has failed to provide an able successor at the World Championships, winning only won one silver and three bronze.
Now can Savinova, last year's second fastest with a time of 1:57.56 finally turn the fast times Russian athletes seem to produce on home soil into a gold medal victory in Daegu where the final will be the last individual track event of the Championships on 4 September?
Savinova, with her world lead of 1:56.95 at the Russian trials in Cheboksary on 22 July where she held off the challenges of Yuliya Rusinova and Ekaterina Kostetskaya who went second and third in the rankings behind her, clearly suggest she will be the woman and her teammates among those to beat in Daegu.
However, Savinova fifth at the last Championships, will not be allowed to rest on her laurels in an event where there are quite a few others more than capable of approaching that time including 2007 gold medallist Janeth Jepkosgei.
The Kenyan runner up who relinquished her title to Caster Semenya in what was a phenomenal run of 1:55.45 by the South African teenager at the last Championships in Berlin, has spoke positively about regaining it.
Her fastest time this summer may only be 1:59.05 when Morocco's Halima Hachlaf, Savinova and Caster beat her across the line at the Bislett Games in Oslo on 9 June. But now over two months later and having won a highly competitive World Trial race at altitude in Nairobi, the Olympic silver medallist insists she is on schedule to reclaim the gold medal.
"I am ready to bring back what I missed in Berlin two years ago and I believe I am in a very good position to do that at the moment," said the locally named "Eldoret Express" who was reinstated by the Jury of Appeal to the semi finals in Berlin after being clipped on the leg by Semenya and falling in the heats.
The highly experienced Jepkosgei points to Kenia Sinclair being one of the major players in the two laps race and few will argue with her point of view given the Jamaican record holder's two Samsung Diamond League victories in Eugene and Stockholm this summer plus showing her strength with a win over 1500m on the New York leg.
Semenya if recovered fully from a niggling back injury will be an outsider to retain her title and having beaten other contenders Hachlaf and Great Britain's fast finishing Jenny Meadows on the Paris leg of the global circuit, will be a threat.
Meadows the Berlin bronze medallist showed plenty of personal spirit winning the SDL London stage and significantly defeating Sinclair with a powerful finish down the home straight in a season's best 1:58.60 while Alysia Johnson Montano, third when Savinova beat Meadows for the 2010 World indoor title, was a streamlined winner of the US trial in 1:58.33.
David Martin for the IAAF