Will A World Record Be Broken At The World Championships?

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Last month, Lincoln diagnosed the chase for world records across track and field. In his post, he argued that there was least a semblance of a chance for broken records in 11 different events. Now, two weeks before the World Championships, I updated that forecast heading into the final meet of the season. 

As a whole, there’s reason to be less optimistic of a world record now then there was in August, in no small part because there’s only one meet left. Events like the men’s and women’s 400m hurdles, which Lincoln classified as high probabilities, I think are lower than 50/50 odds at this point. These are world records, after all. 

But it’s not all bad news for world record watchers. The women’s triple jump has entered the mix by virtue of Yulimar Rojas’ monster jump last week, running the total to 12 events with varying degrees of likelihood. Here’s a look at all the candidates. 

Record Status Category: Vulnerable

Men’s 400m Hurdles

World Record: 46.78 (August 6, 1992 - Kevin Young)

Karsten Warholm’s 46.92 and Rai Benjamin’s 46.98 in Zurich make Young’s mark one of the most likely to fall in Doha. If Abderrahman Samba (PR of 46.98 from 2018) comes back from an injury, there are three legitimate candidates to break the mark. 

The biggest question is how much Warholm and Benjamin will have left after a long season. Neither has had an overwhelming workload (Benjamin’s was relatively light compared to his NCAA season in 2018), but they have been cranking out quick times for several months now.  Zurich gave us the first look at what is possible when Warholm and Benjamin are in the same race. Samba has raced both, but all three have never been in the same field. 

Women’s 400m Hurdles

World Record: 52.20 (July 28, 2019 - Dalilah Muhammad)

Muhammad’s sensational race in Des Moines was the highlight of the U.S. Championships and gave the United States possession of all four hurdle world records. At the Diamond League final, she looked rusty and was beaten by Sydney McLaughlin and Shamier Little. But Muhammad does her best work in the rounds of a championship setting. Her loss to McLaughlin in Oslo before breaking the world record is clear evidence of that. 

McLaughlin also has a 52.20 in her. She ran 52.88 in Des Moines and then 52.85 in Zurich. That consistency hints at a looming breakthrough. 

Women’s Triple Jump

World Record: 15.50m (August 10th, 1995 - Inessa Kravets)

Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas put this one in play last week when she jumped 15.41 meters in Spain, a lifetime best by 30 centimeters. Entering the season, Rojas was expected to contend for the gold, but the world record looked out of the picture. That’s all changed in the past two weeks. Before the season, she’d only jumped 15 meters once; she’s done that five times in 2019.  

Record Status Category: Possible

Men’s Triple Jump

World Record: 18.29m (August 7, 1995 - Jonathan Edwards)

Will Claye has two 18-meter jumps on the year, throwing his name into the mix with Christian Taylor, who has long pursued Edwards’ mark. Taylor’s best of 18.21 meters comes from 2015 and he’s thrived in big meets throughout his career. In their last meeting, Taylor beat Claye in Brussels with a wind-aided 17.85m.  

Women’s High Jump

World Record: 2.09m (August 30, 1987 - Stefka Kostadinova)

Mariya Lasitskene has had several attempts at the world record this season. Her season-best of 2.06 meters tied her lifetime best. Nobody else in the world has gone higher than 2.02m. Does that lack of a clear rival help or hurt her pursuit of the record? 

Record Status Category: Improbable

Men’s 400m 

World Record: 43.03 (August 14, 2016 - Wayde van Niekerk)

This seemed much more likely when Michael Norman ran 43.45 in April. It could happen, but it’s definitely low odds. Since then, Norman’s fastest time is a 43.79 that he ran in a losing effort to Fred Kerley’s 43.64.  Maybe Norman’s season will be characterized by historic performances at either end of his year. Kerley being there to push him certainly aides his chances at a fast time. 

Women’s 100m Hurdles

World Record: 12.20 (July 22, 2016 - Kendra Harrison)

Harrison is the world record holder, while Danielle Williams has the world lead of 12.32. The season series between the two stands at 2-2, with Williams decisively winning their last race in Brussels. The times weren’t fantastic in that race, but that was the case across the board in the meet. Still, I have some optimism because there are two women capable of getting on a hot streak through the rounds and popping something special. 

Men’s 4x400m

World Record: 2:54.29 (August 22, 1993 - USA)

We will have a more thorough breakdown of the U.S. relays as the meet gets closer, but this is certainly one to watch. That 1993 team had Andrew Valmon, Quincy Watts, Butch Reynolds, and Michael Johnson (who split 42.94). 

Kerley and Norman can, of course, go low-43 on a relay split and Rai Benjamin is also capable of something in mid-43s. If the U.S. can get a solid run out of a fourth leg, they might have a shot. 

Women’s Steeplechase

World Record: 8:44.32 (July 20, 2018 - Beatrice Chepkoech)

Beatrice Chepkoech has run 8:55 this year, a ways from her world record, though enough to comfortably maintain her status atop the yearly list. Any time the world record holder is still competing, and in their prime, you have to give them a decent chance to re-break their mark. But it’s hot in Doha and even with the AC on, the conditions for distance running will be far from ideal. 

Men’s Decathlon

World Record: 9126 Points (September 16, 2018 - Kevin Mayer)

Outlook: Similar situation to the women’s steeplechase where the world record holder is active. There’s not a ton of results to pull from with multi-event athletes, but Mayer did set personal bests in the 110m hurdles and shot put as part of a “triathlon” last month at the Paris Diamond League. 

Record Status Category: Longshot

Men’s Pole Vault

World Record: 6.14m (July 31, 1994 - Sergey Bubka)

Sam Kendricks is the best candidate after his American record of 6.06m at the U.S. Championships. Renaud Lavillenie has jumped 6.16m indoors and Piotr Lisek and Mondo Duplantis have gone over six meters in 2019. Perhaps the power of the competition can pull one of them to the mark, but it’s going to take a special day.

Men’s 110m Hurdles

World Record: 12.80 (September 7, 2012 - Aries Merritt)

The two fastest times of the year come from the NCAA Championships when Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts ran 12.98 and 13.00, respectively. Orlando Ortega and Omar McLeod are the only other men who have run 13.10 or faster in 2019. Merritt’s record looks like it will survive to 2020. 

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