First up for New Zealand on the opening day of the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing is Portia Bing in the heptathlon.
The 22 year old has put in some serious training in recent months, which has seen her achieve personal bests this year in each of the seven events that make up the heptathlon.
Bing, who was fifth in the heptathlon at the 2012 World Junior Championships, has posted career bests in the shot put 13.40m, javelin throw 40.61m and in the long jump 6.21m in just the last month.
Her best ever total in 6102 set in Brisbane in January. Going into the competition Bing is ranked 31st amongst those taking part.
Last year’s Commonwealth Games champion and silver medallist in Moscow Brianne Theisen-Eaton of Canada is expected to win from the 2012 World Junior champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain and the 2009 world champion and 2012 Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain, who is back competing after giving birth to a son Reggie last year. Events on the first day of the heptathlon are 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200m.
Michael Cochrane sets out on his quest to make the next round of the 400m hurdles. Cochrane, who won the Oceania title in Cairns in May, has a best of 49.72 and just last week in Japan went close to this time clocking 49.74. The 24 year old is ranked 40th coming into the event.
Amongst the likely podium placings in the 400m hurdles are three times world champion and bronze medallist in Beijing at the 2008 Olympic Games Bershawn Jackson of USA, twice world championships silver medallist and bronze medallist at the London Olympics Javier Culson of Puerto Rico and silver medallist at the 2008 world junior championships Johnny Dutch of USA.
Nikki Hamblin will line up in the 1500m heats. The Cambridge athlete will be hoping her recent form carries her through to Sunday’s semi-finals.
A feature of the first day will be the opening ceremony at 5pm (9pm New Zealand time).
The centre of attention on day two on Sunday will be the men’s shot put featuring Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill.
Since making a major breakthrough internationally with a bronze medal at last year’s world indoor championships in Poland Walsh has stamped his mark on the world stage. Just four weeks ago in Germany he was out to a fresh New Zealand national record of 21.50m. He was disappointed in not winning at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow taking the silver with 21.19m.
Walsh is ranked sixth and if he strikes it right could threaten twice world champion and London Olympics silver medallist David Storl of Germany, Joe Kovacs who features on a promotional banner throughout the City and 2009 world champion Christian Cantwell both of the USA for a medal.
Twenty year old Gill has won the world youth championship and is twice world junior champion and last year’s Oceania champion. He currently holds every world junior record and has a best senior shot put of 20.75m. Coming into the event he is ranked 16th. The qualifying rounds are set down for 2.05pm (New Zealand time), where the athletes will be chasing the automatic qualifying distance of 20.65 to make the final will be will be held nine hours later at 11.30pm.
If Michael Cochrane has made it through the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles, he will be racing at 10.40pm.
Bing will continue in the heptathlon with the long jump, javelin throw and 800m to round it out.
Quentin Rew steps out in the first of the two race walks that he has been selected for, the 20km race walk. Rew who has competed with distinction at the 2011 and 2013 world championships and the 2012 London Olympics in the 50km race walk has a best 20km time of 1:22:11 in Melbourne last December.
He starts ranked 45th. The host nation of the championships could secure a clean sweep of the medals in this event with China’s 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist Zhen Wang, Zelin Cai who was fourth in London and the London Olympics gold medallist and silver medallist in Moscow in 2013 Ding Chen expected to feature.
The championships will go from 22 to 30 August and are being staged in the National Stadium (the “Bird’s Nest”) which was the core venue for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The biannual event feature over 1900 athletes from 207 countries making it the biggest ever World Championships since they began in 1983 in Helsinki.
To run the championships, the Chinese hosts have 300 full time staff, 2800 volunteers, 202 Toyota cars, a fleet of buses, 7,500 welcome packs and thousands of flags and banners hung throughout the City.
The Government has made an effort to curb air pollution, which seems to be working, by shutting down two coal fired thermal power stations, removing 178,000 old motor vehicles from the roads and 8,800 diesel fuel buses have been upgraded.
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent