Preview: Women's 800M - IAAF World Championships

Preview: Women's 800M - IAAF World Championships

Provided by IAAF

Two years ago in Moscow, Kenya’s Eunice Sum stunned the world by beating experienced rivals for the gold. In Beijing, she will be the one to beat.

Sum approached the 2013 World Championships final with just one sub-two-minute performance to her name that season, but managed to improve her personal best by two seconds in that race, winning in 1:57.38.

This year the situation is completely different and Sum has already run a personal best of 1:56.99 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris. She has also been undefeated, but she knows from her own example that there is no room for complacency.

Sum should definitely be wary of the emerging European talents in the field.

Selina Buchel from Switzerland is progressing by leaps and bounds. The World Indoor and European Championships finalist in 2014, she narrowly won the European Indoor title in Prague in March from Olympic bronze medallist Ekaterina Poistogova. Outdoors, she has lowered her personal best from 2:01.42 to 1:57.95 just this summer. The 24-year-old has a strong finish and an ability to position herself well in the race.

Cuba’s Rose Mary Almanza is second on the world list this year. She set a personal best of 1:57.70 in Paris in July, but her performances since then haven’t been so convincing. She finished fourth at the Pan American Games and seventh at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, running 2:02.58.

The preliminary rounds in Beijing should show whether the pre-competition break in a busy racing schedule was of a help.

The third-fastest athlete in the world this season, Ajee Wilson, is a late withdrawal as she is nursing an injury, but the USA still has good chances of a medal.

Brenda Martinez, the bronze medallist in Moscow two years ago, is back on the team and she is in sub-two-minute shape again.

Alysia Montano impressively won the US title less than a year after giving birth before taking silver at the Pan American Games last month. Montano, always easy to spot in the pack thanks to a flower tucked in her hair, finished a disappointing fourth at the past two World Championships, so her desire to break this cycle – combined with her experience of running the rounds – make Montano a serious threat.

US team-mate Molly Ludlow may not have that same championship experience, but she is the sixth fastest in the world in 2015 and the fastest on the team this year so far with a personal best of 1:58.68. She also warmed up for Beijing by running a 1:57.2 time trial.

Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF