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Athletes to watch at the World Championships
The Athletics World Championships comes to The London Stadium this summer with Sir Mo Farah leading the charge for British athletics as he returns to the scene of his double Olympic triumph.
Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford have special associations with London, having both won gold on that special night back in 2012 and they will be joined by some of the rising stars of British Athletics.
Former world record holder Sebastian Coe had an interesting take on the mile, which he always regarded as the perfect distance: “Blink and you miss a sprint. The 10,000 metres is lap after lap of waiting. Theatrically, the mile is just the right length – beginning, middle, end, a story unfolding.”
On Sunday, 9 July, Scotland’s Laura Muir will test that theory at The Müller Anniversary Games, where she hopes to break Zola Budd’s British mile record of 4:17.57. The mark has stood since 1985, but has never been tackled by an athlete of Muir’s calibre.
The veterinary student lit up the Olympic Stadium in London last July, setting a British 1500m record of 3:57.49, which she later lowered to 3:55.22 in Paris. A repeat of that run over a mile would see Budd’s mark obliterated. “It’ll be really tough, but I’ve a good chance,” said Muir. “Hopefully with the great support I can have a good smash at it.”
The track career of Britain’s greatest distance runner may soon be winding down, but if anything that will make his final few races all the more memorable.
The 34-year-old has not been beaten in a global championship final since 2011, and has since racked up four Olympic gold medals and five world titles on the track, a domain in which he is the undisputed king. In August, he will look to crown his career with another two titles at the World Championships, but with both the 5000m and 10,000m finals sold out, The Müller Anniversary Games may represent the last chance to witness Farah at his brilliant best.
When he takes to the runway in the Olympic Stadium, all kinds of fond memories will flood back to Greg Rutherford of that glorious night in August 2012 when he claimed Olympic gold.
Two years ago, Rutherford competed in the Anniversary Games four weeks before taking long jump gold at the World Championships in Beijing, and he hopes it will again prove the perfect build-up to retaining his title this summer. “I can’t wait for it,” said Rutherford. “It will be a great opportunity to test myself. I’m raring to go.”
The Olympic Stadium holds mixed memories for Andy Pozzi. At last year’s Müller Anniversary Games, the sprint hurdler clocked his personal best of 13.19, but four years earlier his Olympic dream turned into a nightmare, with Pozzi walking off the track clutching his hamstring after being unable to finish in the qualifying heats.
This year, however, the 25-year-old has made good on his champion calibre, taking the European Indoor title in Belgrade. His eyes will now be fixed on a podium finish at the World Championships in August, and with The Müller Anniversary Games just four weeks before, he’ll have the perfect chance to make a statement to his rivals.
Her year might have started in the worst way possible – by breaking her foot in a freak training accident – but sprint prodigy Dina Asher-Smith hopes to be back to her best when she returns to the Olympic Stadium on 9 July.
There, the 21-year-old will pit her talents against international superstars Elaine Thompson and Dafne Schippers, along with British teammate Asha Phillip, in what will be one of many races to savour.