Mo Farah – 5000m/10000m
It seems strange not to start with one of our two defending World Champions, but this year Farah has been the class act in British, if not World, Athletics. The facts speak for themselves: unbeaten in 2011, European indoor 3000m champion, British Record holder over 5000m, the European Record, and an almost supernatural turn of speed over the last lap to leave world-class fields trailing in his wake. There will be excellent Kenyans and Ethiopians as there always are, but with Olympic champion and widely-acclaimed ‘greatest ever’ Kenenisa Bekele looking a doubt to defend his titles, Mo has a great chance to claim two medals, and maybe even an unprecedented double gold, for Britain.
Jessica Ennis – Heptathlon
The Golden Girl. The key to understanding just how good she is is to appreciate that she could have qualified for the hurdles, high jump and 200m individually on merit. Having an overcome early-season injury to set a number of PBs, barring incident (a lot can go wrong in a heptathlon!) Ennis looks a safe bet to retain her title, possibly beating Denise Lewis’s British record while doing so. Then watch as the 2012 hype machine goes into overdrive…
Phillips Idowu – Triple Jump
Idowu definitely hasn’t had the year he’d have hoped for, with the inconsistency that dogged him in his early career (including no-jumping in an Olympic final) creeping back in. However, major threat Teddy Tamgho is unfortunately injured and no-one else has been able to produce jumps of the same level as Phillips is capable of. If he jumps badly, he should still medal. If he jumps well, gold number two looks like a very good bet.
Dai Greene – 400m Hurdles
Heading to Daegu as European and Commonwealth champion and multiple Diamond League winner, Greene has every reason to be confident and should put memories of his disappointing 7th two years ago to rest. But being able to mix it with the big boys is one thing, beating double Olympic champion Angelo Taylor and defending World champion Kerron Clement, both of whom have gone under 48 seconds this year, is quite another prospect. It could happen, but irrespective of the result this will be one of the races of the championship.
Jenny Meadows – 800m
A proven championship performer, Meadows has picked up medals at her last four Worlds or Europeans Championships, although a first title has proven elusive. That could change this year, with Meadows outsprinting strong fields impressively and consistently the Diamond League and defending champion (and source of unfortunate controversy) Caster Semenya woefully out of form. Several Russian athletes look threatening however, and we hate to say it but the wait for gold will probably have to wait another year.
It’s been a disappointing year globally for the 400m, and this has translated to Britain where for the first time in donkey’s years not a single man achieved the A standard qualifying time. However, getting four high quality quarter-milers out is something not many countries can manage, so behind the ever-dominant USA the GB quartet look odds-on to fill one of the two ‘best-of-the-rest’ places, especially if Martyn Rooney, Michael Bingham and others do turn out just to be peaking a little late.