As the world gears up for the highly anticipated World Athletics Championships in Budapest, all eyes are on the men's sprints and hurdles, traditionally some of the most electrifying events of the championships. Let's dive into a preview of what we can expect from the world's fastest men this year.
Defending champion Fred Kerley will chase his second consecutive world gold medal in the 100 metres one year after his triumph in Eugene in 9.86. Kerley set his lifetime best of 9.76 in the semifinal of the 2022 US Championships in Eugene. The US star set the third fastest time in the world this year with his seasonal best of 9.91 recorded at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in Yokohama. In his Diamond League campaign this year the Texas-born sprinter won two races in Rabat and Florence with the same 9.94 time and finished second in Chorzow in 9.98.
Cravont Charleston won the 100 metres in 9.95 at the US Championships in Eugene. He beat Christian Coleman and Noah Lyles in his first US Championships final. Charleston was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has been coached by Allen Johnson (Olympic champion in Atlanta 1996 and four-time world champion in the 110 metres hurdles) for the past seven years. Charleston finished second in 9.91 at the Los Angeles Grand Prix, won two races on Finnish soil in Kuortane in 9.90 and Turku in 9.95 and dipped again under 10 seconds when he took fourth place in Chorzow in 9.99.
“Allen Johnson has been awesome. I have known him since I was 18 years old. He has been a mentor and friend. He has helped me navigate my career," said Charleston.
Coleman will be aiming to return to the podium at the World Championships four years after winning the gold medal in Doha 2019 in his lifetime best of 9.76. The world 60m indoor record holder won the 100m in 9.91 in Los Angeles and finished third in New York in 10.02 and Eugene in 9.96.
Lyles won the Diamond League 100m race in 9.97 at Paris Charlety. He finished third at the US Championships in 10.00 after setting his seasonal best of 9.94 in the semifinal.
Zharnel Hughes set the fastest time in the world this year with 9.83 at the New York Grand Prix. This broke the Linford Christie British record since his gold medal at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993. In his past two appearances at the European Championships Hughes won the gold medal in Berlin 2018 and the silver medal in Munich 2022.
The best African hopes are carried by Ferdinand Omanyala, Akani Simbine, Letsile Tebogo and Emmanuel Eseme.
Omanyala won the 100m at the Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi in 9.84m, the Kenyan Trials title in 9.85 and the first Diamond League race of his career in Monaco in 9.92. The former rugby player is the only sprinter to dip under the 9.90 barrier twice this season. Omanyala performed consistently on the Diamond League circuit, finishing third in Rabat, second in Florence and Monaco.
Simbine reached three world finals finishing fifth in London 2017, fourth in Doha 2019 and fifth in Eugene 2022 and two Olympic finals (fourth in Rio 2016 and fifth in Tokyo 2022). The South African sprinter won four consecutive races this season in Kladno in 10.07, in Ostrava in 9.97, Stockolm in 10.03 and Chorzow in 9.97 beating Kerley by 0.01. The other South African sprinter in the field is Shaun Maswanganyi, who clocked a PB of 9.91 and finished second at the World University Games in Chengdu.
Tebogo won his second consecutive world under 20 title in Cali 2022 breaking the world under 20 record with 9.91. This year the Botswanan sprinter clocked a wind-assisted 9.91 in Gaborone on home soil and finished second in Monaco in 9.93, third in Paris in 10.05 and fourth in Rabat in 10.09.
Eseme won in La Chaux de Fonds in 9.96 and finished third in Chorzow in 9.98.
The fastest Jamaican sprinters in the field are Oblique Seville, fourth at the World Championships in Eugene in 9.91, and Rohan Watson, who started the season with a PB of 10.41 and won the national title in 9.91.
The rising star to watch is Terrence Jones from the Bahamas. Jones won the NCAA indoor title in the 60 metres and set a PB of 9.91 at 20.
Olympic 100m champion Marcell Lamont Jacobs will make his comeback after missing most of the 2023 outdoor season due to a back injury. The sprinter finished seventh in 10.21 in Paris in his only race of the season.
Jacobs struggled to fight against injury problems last year, but he returned to his peak form at the European Championships, where he won the European gold medal in 9.95 beating Hughes. Last March Jacobs won the European indoor silver medal in the 60 metres behind his compatriot Samuele Ceccarelli in Istanbul with 6.50.
Defending champion Noah Lyles will chase his third consecutive 200 metres world title. Last year he won the gold medal in Eugene in 19.31 breaking Michael Johnson’s US record by one hundredth of a second. Lyles is third on the all-time list behind world record holder Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake.
Lyles set the world seasonal lead with 19.47 at the London Diamond League. He dipped under the 20 seconds barrier clocking 19.67 in Kingston and 19.83 in New York.
Erriyon Knighton broke Usain Bolt’s world under 20 record with 19.84 at the 2021 US Olympic Trials and finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 19.93. Knighton won the world bronze medal in Eugene in 19.80 after clocking 19.77 in the semifinal. This year the 19-year-old US sprinter won three European races at the Golden Gala in Florence in 19.89, at the Bislett Games in Oslo in 19.77 breaking Bolt’s meeting record and at the Memorial Irena Szewinska in Bydgoszcz in 19.95 before claiming the victory at the US Championships in Eugene in 19.72. He finished second in 20.05 at the Memorial Istvan Gyulai in Szekesfehrvar.
Kenny Bednarek won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 19.68 and at the World Championships in Eugene in 19.77 and claimed the Diamond League Trophy in Zurich in 19.70. Bednarek finished second to Knighton in 19.82 at the US Championships in Eugene last July.
Courtney Lindsey made his breakthrough last June when he won the NCAA outdoor title in the 100 metres in his PB of 9.89. Lindsey qualified for the World Championships in Budapest with his third place at the US Championships in Eugene in 19.85 one hundredth of a second ahead of Fred Kerley.
Zharnel Hughes finished second to Lyles at the Racers Grand Prix in 20.14 in Kingston last June. He won the British title in Manchester in a wind-assisted 19.77 and finished third at the London Diamond League in 19.73 missing Pietro Mennea’s European record by just one hundredth of a second.
Tebogo won the 200m in 19.87 at the Golden Grand Prix in Gaborone. He also won his first Diamond League race in Lausanne in 20.01 into a headwind of -1.4 m/s. The Botswanan sprinter stepped up in distance improving his PB to 44.75 in the 400 metres in Lignano Sabbiadoro. He finished second at the London Diamond League behind Lyles improving Frankie Fredericks’ African record with 19.50.
Steven Gardiner will chase his second world gold medal four years after his triumph in Doha 2019 in a national record of 43.48. Gardiner went on to win the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in 43.85. The 28-year-old Bahamian athlete set the world seasonal lead clocking 43.74 in Szekesfehrvar. Last year he was not able to defend his world title in Eugene because of an injury.
Wayde Van Niekerk also performed very well during the 2023 season winning all of his seven races this year, including three Diamond League races in Oslo in 44.38, Chorzow in 44.08 and London in 44.36. The South African star won two world consecutive world titles in Beijing 2015 in 43.48 and London 2017 in 43.98.
Muzala Samukonga from Zambia won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 in 44.66. The 20-year-old African athlete broke the 44 seconds barrier for the first time in his career clocking 43.91 at the Golden Grand Prix in Gaborone and finished second to Van Niekerk . He suffered from a hamstring injury in his latest race in Chorzow but he is expected to recover in time for the World Championships. Samukonga could follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Samuel Matete, who won the world title in the 400 metres hurdles in Tokyo in 1991.
Kirani James from Grenada will be aiming to win his fourth world medal two months after the death of his coach Harvey Glance. James completed a full set of medals at the World Championships: gold in Daegu 2011, silver in Eugene 2022 and bronze in Beijing. The Grenadan athlete finished third in Gaborone (44.76), Los Angeles (44.50) and Memphis (44.92).
The US team will be represented by defending champion Michael Norman, Bryce Deadmon, Vernon Norwood and Quincy Hall. Deadmon won the US title in Eugene in 44.22 ahead of Norwood (44.39) and Hall (44.41). Norman won his first world title in 44.29 in front of his home fans in Eugene. He is joint fourth on the world all-time list with his PB of 43.45. Norman is one of the three men to run the 100 metres under 10 seconds, the 200 metres under 20 seconds and the 400 metres under 44 seconds.
Another major contender is Matthew Hudson Smith from Great Britain, who won the world bronze medal in Eugene in 44.66 and the European gold medal in Munich in 44.53. The British athlete improved Iwan Thomas’ national record by clocking 44.35 at the 2022 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene. He set a seasonal mark of 44.72 at the London Diamond League meeting.
Jereem Richards from Trinidad and Tobago will aim to win his third world medal after finishing third in the 200 metres and first in the 4x400 relay in London 2017. Richards won three gold medals at the World Indoor Championships in the 400 metres in 45.00 in Belgrade, at the Commonwealth Games in the 200 metres in 19.80 in Birmingham in 2022 and at the CAC Games in the 400m in 44.54 in El Salvador.
The Jamaican team will be formed by Sean Bailey, Antonio Watson and Zandrion Barnes.
Grant Holloway will look to win his third consecutive world outdoor gold medal in the men’s 110 metres hurdles after his triumphs in Doha 2019 in 13.10 and in Eugene 2022 in 13.03. Holloway missed Aries Merritt’s world record by one hundredth of a second when he clocked 12.81 in the semifinal of the US Olympic Trials in Eugene. The US star set the third fastest time in the world this year, when he claimed victory at the Paris Diamond League meeting in 12.98. Holloway enjoyed a consistent season marked by three more victories in Florence in 13.03, Hengelo in 13.04 and London in 13.01. He lost just one race in Rabat, where he finished second to Rasheed Broadbell in 13.12.
Broadbell set the fastest time in the world this year, when he won the Jamaican Trials final in Kingston equalling the national record with 12.94 ahead of Hansle Parchment, who set his seasonal best of 13.12. The Jamaican hurdler also clocked 13.08 in Rabat into a headwind of -1.3 m/s to win the second Diamond League of his career following his victory in Lausanne last year. Parchment won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo in 13.04 ahead of Holloway. Jamaica's team is completed by Orlando Bennett, who finished third at the National Championships in 13.19.
Daniel Roberts won the US Championships final in Eugene in 13.05. Roberts showed his consistency by winning two Continental Tour races in New York in 13.01 and Szekesfehrvar in 13.12.
The US team will also include 23-year-old rising star Cordell Tinch and Freddie Crittenden. Tinch improved his PB to 12.96 in Fayetteville and finished second in 13.08 at the US Championships in Eugene. Tinch showed his versatility when he cleared 2.21m in the high jump and leapt to 8.16m in the long jump. Tinch won the NCAA Division II indoor titles in the 60 metres hurdles and the high jump. At last spring’s Mid America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in Jefferson City he won the long jump and the high jump before clocking a wind-assisted 12.97 in the 110 metres hurdles, becoming the second fastest collegian of all-time in all wind conditions behind Renaldo Nehemiah.
Crittenden won the US indoor title in the 60 metres hurdles in 7.49 and finished third at the US Championships in Eugene in 13.23. He won the NACAC Championships in Freeport in 13.00 last year.
Japanese hurdler Shunsuke Izumiya could break the dominance of US and Jamaican hurdlers. Izumiya, who won the world under 20 bronze medal in Tampere 2018, broke the national record clocking 13.04 at the Japanese Championships in Osaka last May. He won the first Diamond League of his career in Lausanne in 13.22 and finished second in London behind Holloway in 13.06.
Among the most consistent performers in Europe is Jason Joseph from Switzerland. Joseph won the European indoor gold medal in the 60 metres hurdles in a national record 7.41 in Istanbul last March. Only British legend Colin Jackson ran faster in the European Indoor Championships. Joseph improved his own Swiss outdoor record in the 110 metres hurdles with 13.10 at the Golden Gala in Florence. He equalled this time in Madrid and finished second in Lausanne one hundredth of a second behind Izumiya.
Two other European athletes to watch are 2021 European indoor champion Wilhelm Belocian and 2022 European outdoor bronze medallist Just Kwaou Mathey from France. Belocian set his seasonal PB of 13.07 in La Chaux de Fonds and finished second to Joseph in Madrid in 13.20. Kwaou Mathey improved his PB from 13.25 to 13.09 at the Paris Diamond League meeting.
Karsten Warholm will attempt to win his third world gold medal in the men’s 400 metres hurdles after winning titles in London 2017 and Doha 2019. Warholm won the Olympic gold medal breaking his own world record with 45.94 in Tokyo ahead of Raj Benjamin and Alison Dos Santos.
Warholm was sidelined by a hamstring injury in the first half of the 2022 season. He did not fully recover in time for the World Championships in Eugene where he had to settle for seventh place. Warholm returned to his prime shape one month later at the European Championships, where he won his second consecutive gold medal in 47.12. Warholm set the fastest two times in the world this year with 46.51 in Oslo and 46.52 in Monaco. The Norwegian star ran faster only once when he won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
Dos Santos will defend his world title in Eugene 2022, when he set the third fastest time in history and the South American record with 46.29. The Brazilian hurdler won six Diamond League races in 2022 including the Zurich Final and ran under 47 seconds three times. Last year Dos Santos was sidelined by a knee injury during the winter and made a successful comeback last July. He finished third in the 400 metres in Chorzow in 44.73 and second in the 400 metres hurdles in Monaco in 47.66.
Benjamin won the Olympic silver medal in 46.17, which is the second fastest time in history. The US hurdler will chase his third consecutive medal at the World Championships after finishing second in Doha 2019 in 47.66 and in Eugene 2022 in 46.89. Benjamin won his three races this year in Walnut in 47.74, at the Diamond League in Doha in 47.78 and at the US Championships in Eugene in 46.62, the second fastest time of his career.
Kyron McMaster from the British Virgin Islands recently returned to his peak form. He won at the Banska Bystrika meeting in 47.26, setting the second fastest time of his career. McMaster ran quicker only once at the Olympic Games where he finished fourth in 47.08.
CJ Allen could be a major medal contender after a successful season marked by five 48 second runs. The US hurdler won his first Diamond League in Paris in 47.92 and finished second in Oslo in his PB of 47.58, at the US Championships in 48.18 and third in Monaco in 47.84. The US team will also feature Trevor Bassitt, world bronze medallist in Eugene in 47.39 and third placer at this year’s US Championships in 48.26.
Wilfried Happio and Ludvy Vaillant will represent the French team. Happio finished fourth at the World Championships in Eugene in 47.41 missing Stephane Diagana’s national record by four hundredths of a second. He won the silver medal at the European Championships in Munich behind Warholm. Happio set his seasonal record of 48.13 in Oslo. Vaillant improved his lifetime record to 47.85 in Monaco beating Happio.
Alessandro Sibilio set his PB with 47.93 in the semifinal of the Olympic Games in Tokyo before finishing eighth in 48.72. Sibilio returned to his peak form this year by winning the European Team Championships in Chorzow in 48.14 (the second fastest time in his career). Sibilio did not finish his last race in Monaco because of a hamstring injury.
The other athletes to watch are Jamaica’s Roshwan Clarke, who set the world under 20 record with 47.85 at the Jamaican Trials in Kingston, Olympic finalist Rasmus Magi, who won the Estonian title with 48.04, Ayden Owens Delerme from Puerto Rico, who improved his PB to 48.26 in Baton Rouge and finished fourth in the decathlon at the World Championships in Eugene with 8532 points, and Gerald Drummond from Costa Rica, who won the Central American Championships in San José in 48.11.