2021 World Athletics Continental Tour: Ostrava

Can Joshua Cheptegei Break His 3rd WR? Will Richardson Go Sub 22?

Can Joshua Cheptegei Break His 3rd WR? Will Richardson Go Sub 22?

At the Ostrava Continental Tour, Joshua Cheptegei has another world record in his sights, while Sha'Carri Richardson looks to stay undefeated in 2021.

May 18, 2021 by Kevin Sully
Can Joshua Cheptegei Break His 3rd WR? Will Richardson Go Sub 22?

Joshua Cheptegei got in a world record-breaking routine in 2020. Despite the cancelation of much of the sport's calendar, the Ugandan took down Kenenisa Bekele’s legendary marks at 5000m and 10,000m. And he did it with surprisingly comfortable margins. 

This Wednesday in Ostrava, at the World Athletics Continental Tour, will test if Cheptegei can carry that ridiculous shape over to 2021 and break another record that seemed out of reach for the current era. The existing 3000m record-7:20.67 by Daniel Komen in 1996—is as daunting as Bekele’s marks and will take a similar kind of performance from last summer. The World Athletics scoring tables put 7:20 very close to Cheptegei’s 5000m world record of 12:35.36.

Watch the Continental Tour: Ostrava Live on FloTrack

Stewart McSweyn of Australia, whose personal best is actually better than Cheptegei’s, is set to rabbit this race—another clue that this is set to go fast. Paul Chelimo of the United States is also entered and has a personal best of 7:31.57. If Cheptegei is running 7:20 pace, don’t expect anyone to stick with him, but if he’s not on record pace Chelimo is capable of sticking with him. Bernard Lagat’s American record stands at 7:29.00.

How Will Sha’Carri Richardson Fare In Her European Debut? 

Richardson’s PB in the event is 22.00, but her 10.72 in the 100m indicates she’s ready to run much faster. Just how fast will depend on weather conditions and how quickly she adjusts to racing overseas. This will be her first race outside the United States as a professional and Wednesday’s 200m will be the lead-in to a star-studded appearance in the 100m in Gateshead on May 23rd where she’s scheduled to race against Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Dina Asher-Smith. 

Back to Wednesday, Richardson’s best competition will likely come from Dafne Schippers and Blessing Okagbare. Schippers is one of only six women in history to break 21.70, a group that Richardson has the ability to join, perhaps even on Wednesday. 

Can Fred Kerley Join The Sub 10/20/44 Club?

Only two men have broken 10 seconds in the 100m, 20 seconds in the 200m and 44 seconds in the 400m. With a run under 20 seconds on Wednesday, Fred Kerley can join Michael Norman and Wayde Van Niekerk in that select group. Kerley is in the position to make history after his 9.91 100m run earlier in the year, an impressive show of range for a man who was the bronze medalist at the 2019 World Championships in the 400m.

He will be pushed by Kenny Bednarek, who has run 19.80 in his career and is coming off a near-miss against Noah Lyles where Bednarek ran 19.94. 

This will be Kerley’s second race of the meet. He will compete in the 100m earlier in the competition where he will square off against Justin Gatlin and Andre De Grasse. De Grasse broke 10 seconds in his 100m opener, while Gatlin has run 9.98 on two occasions already this season.

What Kind Of Form Is Genzebe Dibaba In?

The world record holder in the 1500m will race the 1500m in Ostrava. After running a strong half-marathon last year, Dibaba’s focus seemed to have turned toward longer distances. If she finishes the race on Wednesday, it will be the first track race she completed since 2019. But these sorts of dry spells have been prevalent throughout Dibaba’s career. 

She’s also had plenty of hot streaks as well and if she wants to compete on the Olympic team, the only path now is on the track. The Ethiopian team has only gotten more challenging to make with the emergence of Gudaf Tsegay and Letesenbet Gidey, both world record holders themselves. 

Dibaba’s only appearance indoors was a DNF in the 3000m in Torun. Wednesday’s race is one that she should win. Only one other woman in the field, Winnie Nanyondo, has a personal best faster than four minutes. This race will show if Dibaba is still in the medal picture on the track, or if her best days are on the roads.  

Who Else Will Shine?

This meet is remarkably deep and includes several other match-ups that will serve at Olympic previews. Mondo Duplantis and Sam Kendricks will face off in the pole vault. Hugues Fabrice Zango and Christian Taylor will compete against each other in the triple jump for the first time since Zango set the indoor world record. Taylor leads the all-time series between the two, 9-1. 

Anita Włodarczyk will star in the hammer throw and Barbora Spotakova is entered in the javelin. Lamecha Girma and Getnet Wale, two of the best steeplechasers in the world are set to compete, while Jacob Kiplimo and Hagos Gebrihiwet will tangle in the 10,000m.