The World Athletics Championships start this weekend and the prestigious event in Moscow will be missing some big names.
However, there are still plenty of stars looking to wow the world, and lots of upcoming talents hoping to make their mark too.
1-Tyson Gay (America)
Athletics is still reeling from Gay’s failed drugs test. After cruelly missing out on bronze at London 2012 to Justin Gatlin, the American was expected to push Usain Bolt all the way for gold in Moscow after posting impressive times in 2013, but his time in athletics now looks over. Sponsors have been quick to distance themselves from the athlete and it might not be long before Gay is consigned to history.
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2-Asafa Powell (Jamaica)
We can’t talk about Gay without also mentioning Powell. The reputation of the most consistent sprinter of all-time, boasting over 70 times under 10 seconds for 100 metres, hangs in the balance whilst the athletics world awaits the full details from his failed doping test. For all his ability, Powell has failed to produce on the biggest stage and now looks set to finish his career without an individual world sprint title.
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3-David Rudisha (Kenya)
Perhaps the athletics highlight from last year’s Olympics was Rudisha romping around the track, leading from start to finish, to break his own 800m world record. The Kenyan was expected to dominate in Moscow but his injury offers a pool of athletes a shot of a world gold medal that will quickly disappear upon Rudisha’s return.
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4-Yohan Blake (Jamaica)
When Blake ran the second fastest 200m in history in Belgium two years ago it looked as though the greatest sprint rivalry of all-time was brewing. But Blake has failed to live up to the hype and was stuck in Bolt’s shadow during the Olympics. The sprinter has pulled out of Moscow with a hamstring complaint and, with no major championship next season, Blake will now have to turn his attention to the 2015 worlds and make sure he’s in shape to finally dethrone his fellow countryman.
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5-Jessica Ennis-Hill (Great Britain)
Ennis-Hill’s beaming smile was one of the standout images from last year’s Olympics but it’s been a frustrating season for the reigning heptathlon world champion. After briefly returning to high-profile competition in the hurdles and long jump at the recent London Anniversary Games, Ennis-Hill now faces four months on the sidelines after aggravating an Achilles problem. But as you'll see later on, her injury doesn't necessarily signal the end for Britain's multi-event hopes.
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6-Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica)
Two-time individual Olympic champion Campbell-Brown tested positive for a masking agent earlier in 2013 and will sit out the Moscow championships. The current 200 metre world champion was expected to feature prominently but her failed test now leaves her credibility in tatters. At 31-years-old it's unlikely we'll ever see the Jamaican light up the international stage again.
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7-Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya)
Cheruiyot is unable to defend her world championship long-distance titles due to the small matter of pregnancy. She led home a Kenyan clean sweep in the 10000 metres at the 2011 World Championships just six days before claiming her second gold over 5000 metres. Her loss coupled with that of Rudisha leaves Kenya severely lacking in medal contenders.
WATCH OUT FOR:
1-Usain Bolt (Jamaica)
The king of athletics heads to Moscow intent on reclaiming the world 100 metre title after his shock false start in Daegu two years ago. He’ll no doubt arrive in Europe armed with his latest bag of start-line antics but it’s unlikely he will be able to rival his world records of 9.58 seconds and 19.19 seconds in the 100 and 200 metres respectively. Following the recent drug revelations, athletics needs the Jamaican more than ever to carry the sport.
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2-Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukraine)
World records are expected to be at a premium in Moscow but one man confident of setting a new best is high jumper Bondarenko. The 23-year-old Ukrainian has burst onto the scene in 2013 and only just failed a clearance of 2.47 metres at the London Anniversary Games which would have catapulted him into the history books. If he claims victory in Moscow, expect him to ask for the bar to be raised before attempting to surpass the current record of 2.45 metres which has stood for 20 years.
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3-Katarina Johnson-Thompson (Great Britain)
In Ennis-Hill’s absence, the responsibility falls on Johnson-Thompson to produce for Britain in the heptathlon. The youngster followed up her breakthrough at the Olympics with a Diamond League long jump victory in London. Whilst she probably won’t be in the hunt for a medal, don’t be surprised to see her finish in the top 10 and win a lot of fans in the process with her warm personality.
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4-Kirani James (Grenada)
James looks destined to be the man to break Michael Johnson’s long standing 400 metre world record. The Grenada athlete hasn’t enjoyed the greatest season after his Olympic triumph but is still the only man to run under 44 seconds this season. James still has plenty to work on due to his questionable technique, and Johnson’s mark of 43.18 seconds looks achievable in the future.
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5-Mo Farah (Great Britain)
Farah has showed no signs of slowing since his double Olympic success as he sets his sights on breaking as many British records as possible. His finishing pace is frightening so if the pace is slow in Moscow expect him to sprint away from the field at the sound of the bell. He narrowly avoided the long distance double at Daegu two years ago and would dearly love to bring both the 5000m and 10000m titles home this time around.