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  • Writer's pictureAaryan

The Most Anticipated Events at Budapest 2023

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

This weekend saw the start of the 2023 Athletics World Championships in Budapest. The 49 world titles to be decided provide plenty of reasons to get excited for the 9-day event, which is also a chance to enjoy a third major championship in just 2 years after 2022 featured both the Indoor and Outdoor world championships. There will be stars, new and old, to look out for, but some missing as well. To make sense of it all, here is a preview of the events to look forward to.


Photo from: World Athletics

W 100m

Final on 21 Aug

Favourite to win: Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM)

Underdog to look out for: Marie-Josèe Ta Lou (CIV)

Photo from: Olympics.com

The sprints are the marquee events of the sport which draw the largest crowd, but the greatest focus is always on the men’s 100m (we have a certain Jamaican to thank for that). However, the women’s 100m has been a far more interesting event at least for the last 3 years, with athletes (mostly Jamaicans) running times not seen since 1988. Of the 10 fastest times in history, 6 have been run within these 3 years. For reference, the fastest men’s time in this period barely makes the top 15. Women’s sprinting is currently as fast as it has ever been. Not only that, it is also very closely contested with several athletes performing at that level, and there will be 4 of the top 10 in history at the Budapest world championships. Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM) will be the one to beat as the defending world champion and the greatest in history at this event, having won 5 World Championships and 2 Olympic Golds over the 100m. She had some injury trouble that delayed the start of her season so she has only run two races in the 100m this year. But she won both with very strong performances close to 10.80s, showing she still has great form and consistency. It is her compatriot Shericka Jackson (JAM) who has the fastest time this year, however, with a blistering 10.65. The 200m World Champion could well take her first gold in the shorter distance. A Jamaican who will not contest the 100m, however, is Elaine Thompson-Herah, the double Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m, who will be conspicuous by her absence after failing to qualify for the 100m. One looking to make her presence felt, however, is Sha’carri Richardson (USA) who has been amongst the fastest in the world over recent seasons, but has also consistently missed out at major competitions. She is in wonderful form this year, with a new PB on 10.71 and having dipped under the 10.8 barrier 4 times. She will be one of the favourites to win; she is not just quick, but also has something to prove. Last but not the least, the ‘underdog favourite’ if you will, is the immensely talented and experienced Marie-Josèe Ta Lou (CIV). Despite being one of the top performers for over 6 years, she is possibly the unluckiest sprinter I’ve known. She just missed World Championship golds by the narrowest of margins in both the 100m and 200m in 2017, and has finished 4th at the Olympics thrice, 5th once, but has never stepped on the Olympic podium. She has been in great form this year, dipping under 10.80 thrice and beating world-leading Shericka Jackson twice. With so many closely-matched top athletes in fantastic form, this is by far the most exciting race to look forward to at Budapest.


M 200m

Final on 25 Aug

Favourite to win: Noah Lyles (USA)

Underdog to look out for: Letsile Tebogo (BOT)


Since the retirement of Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, men’s sprinting has lacked the aura of superstardom that they brought with them to every race. The 100m especially has not been nearly as quick as it was in Bolt’s heyday and there have been no consistent favourites or any repeat major championship winners. While this has given us unpredictable, close racing, the sprint world has missed the magnetic aura of stars like Bolt. Noah Lyles (USA) wants to fix that. Not only is Lyles the most fascinating personality in these events since Bolt, he is also the one bringing the level of sprinting close to Bolt’s standards again, particularly in his favoured event the 200m. Lyles has dominated the 200m since 2019, winning two World Championships, and running the 4th fastest time in history at 19.31s. He has been pushed hard over the last two years by the likes of Erriyon Knighton (USA) and Andre de Grasse (CAN), the latter besting him at the Olympics, but the competition has made the 200m the most enticing men’s sprinting event. All three will race the 200m in Budapest, but it is Lyles who enters these championships as favourite to win, having been in great form this year and remaining unbeaten over 200m since the Tokyo Olympics. Unfazed by the spotlight and the favourite label, he has boldly invited even more pressure by declaring his intention to break Usain Bolt’s world record of 19.19s that has stood since 2009. He is targeting a time of 19.10s in Budapest and is confident he can achieve it, meaning this race is not to be missed. While Lyles is looking to take over Bolt’s legacy in the 200m, there is another competitor who beckons comparison to the legendary Jamaican - by resemblance to his iconic running style. This honour belongs to Letsile Tebogo (BOT), a talented young Botswana sprinter who runs with what I can only describe as a swagger, that was a distinctive trait of the inimitable Usain Bolt. He is also strongest at the end of the race, when others are slowing down, in what is known as the ‘relaxation phase’, which was where Bolt was unmatched. The resemblance goes extends beyond style to his talent too, with Tebogo being the second fastest in the world this year over 200m, very nearly beating Lyles too. Tebogo isn’t shy of a but if showboating either; he broke the U20 world record at the U20 Worlds last year, while taking a cheeky peek over his shoulder at his competitors and wagging his finger at them, from some 20 metres before the line! So a showdown between Lyles and Tebogo in a World final would be a must-watch. Throw in the likes of 19-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton and Olympic champ De Grasse, and you have one of the blockbuster events of the championship.


The Quarter Mile

Finals on 23 Aug (W) and 24 Aug (M)

Favourites to win: W - Marileidy Paulino (DOM) & M - Steven Gardiner (BAH)

Underdogs to look out for: W - Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) & M - Wayde van Niekerk (RSA)

The 400m is always an exciting event, and this is no different at Budapest, but there are curious parallels between the men’s and women’s event this year. Both races will be characterised by great stories, featuring rather unexpected underdogs and missing a few key characters.

All the hype before the championships for the women’s event was around Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the 400m Hurdles world record who was switching over to the flat 400m this season and was already the favourite to win in Budapest. Indeed, she is the favourite to challenge one of the oldest world records in the sport, but she will miss Budapest due to injury. That leaves Marileidy Paulino (DOM) as the favourite to take Gold, being the fastest in the world this year without McLaughlin-Levrone and the only athlete to beat her in a race. Paulino is lightning quick at her best, but prone to the occasional off-day, which could leave the door open for rising talents like Natalia Kaczmarek (POL) and Rhasidat Adeleke (IRL). Paulino has strong international pedigree, however, having won Silver last year and at the Olympics, finishing behind Shaunae Miller-Uibo (BAH) on both occasions. Why, then, is the Bahamian the underdog? Well, she had a child in April and has not run a 400m race this season. It’s fantastic that she is still competing to defend her title, but we cannot know what sort of form she will have. What a story it would be, however, if she can grab a medal just 4 months after having a baby.


Photo from: Olympics.com

There will be no defending champion as American Michael Norman has pulled out from Budapest after a difficult season, which leaves the field quite open. The favourite to win will be reigning Olympic champion Steven Gardiner (BAH), who has run the fastest time this year at 43.74 s and won Silver last year behind Norman. The only other athlete who has broken 44 seconds this year is Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga, who will unfortunately miss the competition through injury. This means the main challenger to Gardiner will be world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) who is looking to complete an incredible comeback story after tearing his ACL in 2017, which is a career-threatening injury. He underwent surgery and a long and painful recovery (*tears of relatability*) but has gradually inched his way back to the top over the previous few years and now looks back to his best. Not in terms of almost going sub-43 like his 43.03 WR, but he has nearly broken the 44-second barrier for the first time since his injury. He has been remarkably consistent this season and has won every race he has run, which is truly impressive. If he manages to win a medal at Budapest, it would complete an inspirational comeback.


The Metric Mile

W 1500 m

Final on 22 Aug

Favourite to win: Faith Kipyegon (KEN)

Competitor to look out for: Sifan Hassan (NED)



I would argue that Faith Kipyegon (KEN) is the greatest 1500 m runner ever. She has won the event twice at both the Olympics and the World Championships, including in Eugene last year. She also had a baby in between her first and second Golds in each. She is unbeaten over the distance this year and last year, and she has now broken the world record with a time of 3:49.11 in June this year. She can run the entire race at a pace no one can match and she can win a slower tactical race with a sprint finish. She is the favourite to win in Budapest (naturally), she deserves to win in Budapest, but if anyone can keep up with her, it is Sifan Hassan (NED). She is the last person to beat Kipyegon in the 1500m and has done it before on the big stage at the 2019 Worlds. They have had a long and wonderful rivalry and have pushed each other to new levels. Kipyegon has taken the upper hand in recent years but Hassan will want to overturn that, and she will be fired up after her terribly unfortunate fall in the 10K (which she very gracefully took in her stride). Kipyegon will have a quicker finish so Hassan might have to use her longer distance endurance to maintain a difficult pace, so we could see a very fast time. Don’t overlook Laura Muir (GBR) either, the fast-finishing Brit is a gritty racer who has even beaten Hassan to Silver at the Tokyo Olympics and won Bronze in Eugene last year.


W 5000 m

Final on 26 Aug


The 5000 m will be a re-match of the 1500 m matchup between Sifan Hassan (NED) and Faith Kipyegon (KEN), but what adds to the excitement is that they will also meet many of the 10K runners stepping down a distance. This means they will also come up against the likes of Gudaf Tsegay (ETH), Letesenbet Gidey (ETH), and Ejgayehu Taye (ETH) who completed an Ethiopian clean sweep in the 10K. Kipyegon broke Gidey’s world record this year with a run of 14:05.20 just a week after her 1500 m record. But Tsegay is the defending world champion, while Hassan is the Olympic champion. So it’s a very open race. Kipyegon might have an edge in a tactical race with a sprint finish so we should see a very fast pace from the others. Throw in the likes of Beatrice Chebet (KEN) and we have what promises to be one of the races of the week.


W 100m H

Final on 24 Aug


The sprint hurdles are always amongst the most unpredictable events in athletics, because they are extremely fast and very technical, so there is very little margin for error. The women’s 100m hurdles has been a highlight of recent global competitions because the event is currently faster than ever before. The defending champion Tobi Amusan (NGR) broke the world record last year in Eugene, and half of the top 10 performers in history will compete at Budapest, including Amusan and the previous record holder, Kendra Harrison (USA). Amusan’s inclusion comes on the back of some controversy wherein she was under threat of suspension for a ‘whereabouts’ violation (missing 3 doping tests in 12 months). She has been approved to compete for now but is a storyline to keep an eye on. Nevertheless, this should be a thrilling and unpredictable 12 seconds.

M 400 m H

Final on 23 Aug


The 400 hurdles for men and women, have become the most exhilarating events in recent years, with the Tokyo Olympics seeing the fastest ever races in both. The top 3 male and female athletes currently have the top 9 and 16 times in history respectively.


Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Dalilah Muhammad (USA) have set 6 world records between them in the women’s race, but the favourite to win in Budapest will be Femke Bol (NED), who won Silver last year and Bronze in Tokyo. McLaughlin-Levrone will not defend her title, initially to focus on the 400m flat, but pulling out of the championships altogether with injury. Muhammad has not yet reclaimed the form that got her to a Silver in Tokyo. Bol, on the other hand, has been on the rise since the Olympics and in excellent form this season.


The men’s race will finally see a repeat showdown of the Olympic final between the fastest three men in history Karsten Warholm (NOR), Rai Benjamin (USA), and Alison dos Santos (BRA). Warholm broke a world record that stood for almost 3 decades and has been dominant in the event since 2017. However, he missed last year’s championships due to injury so he will be looking to make a strong comeback and is back to his best this season. Dos Santos will look to retain his title from last year, but it will be a challenge to beat Warholm, especially returning from a knee injury in February. But Benjamin will be desperate for a global Gold medal too, having been second at the Olympics and twice at the World Championships. The 400 hurdles final is not to be missed.


M 3000 m Steeplechase

Final on 23 Aug


Photo from: AP photo

The steeplechase, with its awkward hurdles and water jumps, is perhaps not what you would traditionally think of as an exciting track race. But the presence of someone like Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR) certainly makes it so, with his ability to storm past an entire field of world-class runners in the last lap. The Moroccan has always been one of the fastest finishers of the event, but his speed and endurance have only improved over the years, and he has become dominant in recent years, winning at the Tokyo Olympics and at last year’s World Championships. Indeed, it looked for a while like El Bakkali would be the first athlete in over a decade to threaten the world record set in 2003. But then came Lamecha Girma (ETH), a man who has had 4 global Silver medals but never stood on the top step, who broke that world record this June, by a second and a half! This makes Wednesday’s race in Budapest a much anticipated showdown between Girma and El Bakkali, in their first race against each other this year. Girma has not beaten El Bakkali since 2019, but his world record is 4.5 seconds faster than El Bakkali’s best time. So it should be a thrilling race, and a fast one too. Who knows, it may take a new world record to win.


M High Jump

Final on 22 Aug


Gianmarco Tamberi (left) and Mutaz Essa Barshim (right) shared Olympic Gold at Tokyo. Photo from: Olympics.com

The men’s high jump created one of the most memorable moments of the Tokyo Olympics when Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) and Gianmarco Tamberi (ITA) decided to share the Olympic title and both won Gold because their tie could not be broken. High jump finals are often very closely contested and that makes it one of the most exciting field events to watch, especially given the personalities involved in recent years. Barshim, in particular, is one of the most liked athletes on the circuit and has consistently performed at the highest level for over a decade. He is attempting to win an historic 4th World title in a row. Tamberi is a charismatic character who can control a crowd about as well as Freddie Mercury and often sports a beard on only one side of his face while competing. The challengers to the Tokyo winners will be multi-faceted JuVaughn Harrisson (USA), who used to compete in the Long Jump as well, the always-smiling Sanghyeok Woo (KOR), who got Silver last year, and the experienced Andrii Protsenko (UKR), who took Bronze. Interestingly enough, the last 3 global titles have all been won by a mark of 2.37 m, and all by Barshim.


W Triple Jump


Final on 25 Aug


The triple jump in recent years has been the Yulimar Rojas show and what a show it is. Rojas (VEN) has won the last 3 World Championships, outdoors and indoors, as well as Olympic Gold in Tokyo. She holds not only the world record, but 7 of the furthest 10 marks in history. She is undeniably the greatest female triple jumper of all time, and she is one of the most likeable, charismatic and entertaining athletes to watch. Her performances have perhaps not been as outrageously dominant as previous years, so if she has an off-day, her other competitors will have a chance. These include Jasmine Moore (USA), a standout indoor performer this year, Leyanis Pérez Hernández (CUB), who has consistently improved this year to almost breach 15 metres, and Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (UKR), the former long jumper who cleared 15m last year. Rojas remains the overwhelming favourite, though, as she aspires to break the 16-metre mark while only two others in the field have hit 15m. It would be amazing to see Rojas improve on her sensational world record from Tokyo.


M Javelin Throw

Final on 27 Aug


Indian fans will want to watch this one to see whether Olympic star Neeraj Chopra (IND) can upgrade his Silver from last year to Gold to join his Gold from Tokyo. It will not be easy as the Javelin is a hotly contested event, despite the continued absence of Johannes Vetter who is still working his way back to form. Chopra’s biggest obstacle will be the fact that he has not yet managed to break the 90-metre barrier, which is what really separates the very best of the elite Javelin throwers, and there are 5 athletes in this year’s field who are part of that exclusive club. The good news is that none have done it this year, but both Jakub Vadlejch (CZE) and Julian Weber (GER) have thrown further than him. Vadlejch has looked the most consistent this season but Chopra has already beaten him twice this season. In fact, Vadlejch hasn’t beaten Chopra in competition since before the Olympics. But they will all have to beat the man who beat won in Eugene, Anderson Peters (GRN), who threw over 90m thrice in that final alone. However, he has not looked to be in the same form this year, whereas Chopra has won all 4 of his competitions since last year’s Worlds.


Relays

X 4x400: 19 Aug

M & W 4x100: 26 Aug

M & W 4x400: 27 Aug


Relays are always the best events to watch at an athletics meet and will culminate the action on the final weekend of the World Championships, with the Mixed 4x400m relay one of the main highlights of the opening day. USA, Jamaica, and Great Britain are always strong in relays (as they are in individual events), but the USA have the unique privilege of almost always being the favourite for every relay event. What makes this year fascinating, however, is that their challengers will be stronger than ever.


The USA hold the world record for the mixed 4x400 but they only got Silver last year, behind a brilliant team from the Dominican Republic. The Central Americans will not be able to mount a strong defence due to their second key female runner Fiordaliza Cofil, being prevented from competing just weeks before the competition due to the regulations for hyperandrogenism (yes this dumb part of Sebastian Coe's agenda strikes again). However, the other teams that pushed USA very close and took Bronze was the Netherlands and they will be strong contenders with the fabulous form of Femke Bol. The USA will enter as favourites, but the Netherlands will not be far behind, and teams like Poland and Great Britain could pull an upset.


The men's 4x100 is where the USA are the biggest favourites, but anything can happen in the sprint relay. They swept the individual medals in the 100m and 200m last year, but were beaten in the relay by Canada. With the ability to call on Noah Lyles, Erriyon Knighton, Christian Coleman, and Fred Kerley, however, no other team can match their strength in depth. Still, it will be an exciting competition, with teams like Canada, Olympic champions Italy, the ever-quick Jamaicans and perhaps the strongest challengers in Great Britain. None will want the US to have it their way.


The women's 4x100 is the only relay where the USA are only one of the favourites, and not the favourite. That honour will go to Olympic champions Jamaica. With the trio of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Shericka Jackson becoming quite legendary, their is no denying their strength. However, the three ran last year too after sweeping the individual 100m and the USA won that race. And Thompson-Herah did not even qualify for the individual event this year. So we should expect a thrilling duel between the two sprint giants. Another team to look out for, though, is Great Britain, with Daryll Neita and Dina Asher-Smith having great seasons.


The men's 4x400 is another race where it would be a significant upset for the USA if they were not to win, especially since they can call on the talent of Rai Benjamin from the 400 hurdles. but there is no shortage of talent in other teams either. Particularly, Great Britain and South Africa have strong teams, with the latter having the quality of world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk. Jamaica could be very strong as well as they have talent in both the flat 400 and the hurdles to call on.


The women's 4x400 will be the final event of the championships, which is fitting, because it could be the most exciting of the relays. It is a very open race, with the USA hoping to win a 4th title in a row. It will be a tougher task without Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone to call upon. Jamaica will be strong contenders again, because they have very string talent in the flat and hurdle events like with the men. Netherlands are very strong contenders with the talent of Lieke Klaver and Femke Bol. Great Britain have strong pedigree in the event and may be the closest competitors to the US. And finally Poland have always performed well in the women's 4x400 relay, but often without any standout performer. Now, they have an individual star too in Natalia Kaczmarek, so they could well run a fabulous race. In any case, this event is not one to miss.




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