9 American Distance Runners To Watch At IAAF World Championships
Any of these talented runners could walk away with a medal at the World Championships.
IAAF World Championships begin today in London. In the distance events, there are a few American hopefuls to keep an eye on. Watch out for these big names and see who comes away with a medal. Not sure how to watch the meet? With our viewing guide, you won’t miss any of the action.
Evan Jager—3000 meter steeplechase
One American who should come away with a gold medal is Jager. He has the world leading time in the steeplechase this year. This summer he also became the first non-African man to win a steeplechase at a Diamond League meet. Keep an eye on his American teammates Stanley Kebenei and Hillary Bor though. While they may be long shots to medal, both runners will present a challenge to a normally Kenyan dominated event.
When to watch: Heats—Aug. 6 at 5:05 a.m. EST. Final—Aug. 9 at 4:10 p.m. EST.
Ajee Wilson—800 meters
The 2016 Olympic medal trio of South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui continued to dominate races throughout 2017 as well. Until American Ajee Wilson finished 3rd at the Diamond League meet in Monaco, breaking the American record for the 800 meters along the way. Her 1:55.61 is 3rd fastest in the world this year. If anyone could break up the Olympic trio and earn a medal, it’s likely to be Wilson.
When to watch: Heats—Aug 10. at 2:25 p.m. EST. Semis—Aug. 11 at 2:35 p.m. EST. Final—Aug. 13 at 3:10 p.m. EST.
Donovan Brazier—800 meters
At 20-years-old, Brazier is still a streaky young racer. Fast dominant performances are often followed up my major missteps, including not making it beyond the first round of the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer. However Brazier has run a 1:43.95 run this year. With world record holder David Rudisha scratched for the event, Brazier now has a real shot at the podium.
When to watch: Heats—Aug. 5 at 7:45 a.m. EST. Semis—Aug. 6 at 4:15 p.m. EST. Final—Aug. 8 at 4:35 p.m. EST.
Related: How To Watch The World Championships
Photo: David Monti
Matt Centrowitz and Robby Andrews—1500 meters
Around this time last year, Centrowitz became the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in the 1500 meters. However after a sub-par racing season in 2017, he’s not as heavily favored to repeat that performance at World Champs. He has not run near his fastest times and was beaten at the U.S. Championships by Robby Andrews. Andrews, who never lacks confidence or a kick while racing, has an outside shot of making the top 3. However you can never count out Centrowitz’s tactical racing style, which often makes up for his lack of fitness.
When to watch: Heats—Aug. 10 at 3:25 p.m. EST. Semis—Aug. 11 at 3:10 p.m. EST. Finals—Aug. 13 at 3:30 p.m. EST.
Jenny Simpson—1500 meters
Simpson is often seen as the leader of the American resurgence in middle distance races. With World Championships gold (2011) and bronze (2013) and Olympic bronze (2016), she can never be counted out of a medal conversation. However this year, Simpson faces her toughest competition yet in the event. As long as she can keep her shoe on (unlike when she lost it in the 2015 World Championships final), Simpson should make the finals and be in the hunt.
When to watch: Heats–Aug. 4 at 2:35 p.m. EST. Semis—Aug. 5 at 2:35 p.m. EST. Finals—Aug. 7 at 4:50 p.m. EST.
Emma Coburn—3000 meter steeple chase
Coburn, the 6-time U.S. Champion, holds the American record in the steeplechase and has an Olympic bronze medal from last year’s Olympics. However her fastest time doesn’t even place her on the top 5 list this year. Coburn always manages to surprise with huge performances when it counts. She is in the best shape of her life and could likely break her American record if the conditions are right.
When to watch: Heats—Aug. 9 at 2:05 p.m. EST. Final—Aug. 11 at 4:25 p.m. EST.
Molly Huddle—5000 meters and 10,000 meters
Huddle is planning to run the 5K/10K double at Worlds. Her chances to medal are definitely stronger in the longer distance, where she boasts the 4th fastest time run this year. After being out-leaned by Emily Infeld at the 2015 World Championships, costing her the bronze medal in the 10K, Huddle will race with something to prove. Meanwhile the 5K field is loaded with incredibly fast talent, including her American teammates Shelby Houlihan, Shannon Rowbury.
When to watch: 10,000—Aug. 5 at 3:10 p.m. EST.
5000: Heats—Aug. 10 at 1:30 p.m. EST. Final—Aug. 13 at 2:35 p.m. EST
Paul Chelimo—5000 meters
Chelimo turned in a surprising performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics, earning a silver medal in the 5K. And he easily won the U.S. Championship, running a solo 13:08 in almost 100 degree weather. While most of the talk in this event will be how gold medalist Mo Farah will fare against tough Kenyan and Ethiopian squads, Chelimo may be able to once again sneak into that group for a medal.
When to watch: Heats—Aug. 9 at 3:05 p.m. EST. Final—Aug. 12 at 3:20 p.m. EST.