Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards, fastest in the heats at 20.05, splashed his way through the steady rain to win the second semifinal in 20.14, confirming he can challenge for the medals, maybe even the gold. He has improved from 20.58 to 19.97 this year. Hakim Sani Brown was second in 20.43, relegating Yohan Blake to third – and out.
Ramil Guliyev won the final semifinal in 20.17 from Ameer Webb, 20.22, and Wayde Van Niekerk, who had to work hard for third in 20.28. He and Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake took the non-automatic qualifying places in the final.
Richards is entitled to start as favourite for the gold medal with Makwala, Guliyev, Young and Webb next. Van Niekerk will have to fight hard for a medal, much less the gold that would emulate Michael Johnson’s 1995 200m/400m double.
2 Women’s 400m hurdles
Dalilah Muhammad, Kori Carter and Shamier Little all broke 53 seconds at the US Championships at the end of June. No woman broke 54 seconds in the semifinals here. But despite one of the US entrants missing the final, there are still three others, so a US sweep is possible
Best credentialed to challenge US hegemony is two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova, who earned Olympic bronze in this stadium five years ago. Best supported to do so will be Lea Sprunger of Switzerland. Best outsider might be British team captain Eilidh Doyle.
And, of course, the 10 hurdles and how the competitors handle them, will have a say in it all.
3 Men’s triple jump
Christian Taylor and Will Claye; Will Claye and Christian Taylor. Whichever way you look at it, this appears to be a head-to-head with the others going for bronze. Hopefully the rain that swept London on Wednesday will disappear on Thursday. The forecast is promising.
Given good conditions, the battle between the two top US jumpers could push them both beyond the 18-meter line and maybe even close to Jonathan Edwards’ 18.29m world record.
Chris Benard of the US led qualifying at 17.20m and has a best this year of 17.48m. That should put him in the medal hunt. Andy Diaz has a season’s best of 17.40m.
But it should come down to the big two, with a battle royale for the bronze medal.
4 Men’s javelin qualifying
Two years back in Beijing we were talking about the 90-metre line. This year, the event has gone to another level. First, Olympic champion Thomas Rohler went to second on the world all-time list with 93.90m; then, his teammate Johannes Vetter threw 94.44m. The third German competitor, Andreas Hoffman, is third on the entry list at 88.79m, followed by the veteran Finn, Tero Pitkamaki.
Before any of them thinks medals, however, there is the little matter of qualifying on Thursday night.
5 Women’s high jump qualifying
Maria Lasitskene, the champion in Beijing two years ago, returns to defend her title. On paper, it is a formality, but titles are not won on paper. Lasitiskene seems to have taken up permanent residence at two-metres-plus altitude, with a best of 2.06m and many, many jumps above 2.00m. She won’t need that in qualifying, but it is still a test to be passed.
Vashti Cunningham and Kamila Licwinko are among a handful to be pushing up towards two metres this year, but qualifying may reveal a few more medal contenders.
Not forgetting… the men’s 1500m gets under way with no clear favourite for the title yet. The women’s 200m moves to the semifinal stage and the 800m gets under way with first-round heats.
And can we please have the sun back?
Len Johnson for the IAAF