World Athletics Championships: Ten to watch as Sydney McLaughlin and Mondo Duplantis look set to shine

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Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record in the US Trials last month  (Getty Images)
Sydney McLaughlin broke her own world record in the US Trials last month (Getty Images)

The World Athletics Championships get underway in Oregon, USA on Friday, with the planet’s best athletes descending on one of track and field’s most iconic venues in Hayward Field.

For British athletes, this is a jam-packed summer of three major outdoor championships, but what about the global stars of the sport?

Here we look at ten international stars who could light up the competition, from established names and champions to young talents seeking their first world titles.

Sydney McLaughlin (USA) Women’s 400m hurdles

McLaughlin needs no introduction after breaking the world record en route to a stunning gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last summer but is looking to add a first world title after finishing second to teammate Dalilah Muhammad in Doha three years ago.

The 22-year-old is perhaps the biggest talent in the sport right now and broke her own world record when running 51.41 at Hayward Field in the US Trials last month. Most ominously, she did it looking fairly comfortable, too.

Erriyon Knighton (USA) Men’s 200m

Still just 18, Knighton is already the fourth-fastest man in history over 200m, having opened his season running 19.49 back in April. Only Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Michael Johnson have ever gone quicker - not bad.

Fourth at last year’s Olympics as a 17-year-old (the youngest US track and field Olympian since 1964), the Floridian is chasing his first senior global medal.

Yaroslava Mahuchikh (Ukraine) Women’s high jump

There would be few better stories during these Championships than were Mahuchikh to add world outdoor gold to the indoor title she won in in Belgrade earlier this year after fleeing her homeland following Russia’s invasion.

The 20-year-old already has world silver and Olympic bronze in her collection and her hopes of gold are boosted by the fact that three-time defending champion, Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene, is banned from competing.

Mondo Duplantis (Sweden) Men’s pole vault

Like McLaughlin, the Swede is another who is well established as the dominant force in his discipline, yet has never won World Championship gold.

The 22-year-old broke his own world record twice indoors earlier this year, becoming the first man to clear 6.20m, and then bettered the outdoor mark by vaulting 6.16m at the Stockholm Diamond League last month.

Mondo Duplantis is favourite to add World Championships gold to his Olympic title (Getty Images)
Mondo Duplantis is favourite to add World Championships gold to his Olympic title (Getty Images)

Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela) Women’s triple jump

That Rojas is already the world record holder and is seeking a third world title, yet still gives off the sense that there is more to come gives you some idea of her talent.

The 26-year-old’s 15.74m at the World Indoor Championships in March is almost a metre further than any other woman has jumped this year. She was hoping to double in the long jump in Eugene, but had her qualifying mark wiped because it came while wearing unapproved shoes.

Ryan Crouser (USA) Men’s shot put

In what is widely acknowledged as a golden era for men’s shot putting, Crouser is out on his own, with his world record of 23.37m a full 25cm further than anyone else has ever thrown.

He was forced to settle for silver in an epic final in Doha, however, where the top three were separated by just 1cm - surely this will be his time.

Abby Steiner (USA) Women’s 200m

It is usually the case that times set by American collegiate sensations have to be taken with a pinch of salt heading into their first major championships, but Steiner’s performances at Hayward Field this season suggest she is ready to mix it with Jamaica’s big guns.

The 22-year-old broke the NCAA record to win the collegiate title in 21.80, then ran the same time at the same venue in the semi-final at US Trials before going even quicker (21.77) to win the title, the second-fastest time in the world this year.

Abby Steiner could be ready to contend on the global stage (Getty Images)
Abby Steiner could be ready to contend on the global stage (Getty Images)

Michael Norman (USA) Men’s 400m

Speaking of collegiate sensations bombing out at major championships, Norman went into Doha 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics as favourite for gold but disappointed at both.

He is yet to win an individual global medal of any colour but is once again the man to beat after breaking the Diamond League record earlier this season.

Athing Mu (USA) Women’s 800m

Mu was perhaps the sport’s breakout star of 2021, besting the American record to on her way to a dominant success in Tokyo, where she beat fellow teenager Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain.

The 20-year-old is unbeaten over 800m outdoors over the past two seasons and is set for another clash with the Hodgkinson in Oregon.

Alison Dos Santos (Brazil) Men’s 400m hurdles

The men’s 400m hurdles has been taken to new heights in recent seasons, not only by world record holder Karsten Warholm but also by the those who have been chasing his coattails, including America’s Rai Benjamin and the in-form Dos Santos.

While Warholm comes into these Championships under a cloud after an injury-hit season, Dos Santos is flying, the fastest man in the world this year having won four out of four on the Diamond League circuit.

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