World Athletics Championships: Can African sprint stars secure medals?

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Meet the sprinters setting the pace in world athletics in 2022.
Venue: Eugene, Oregon, United States Dates: Friday, 15 July - Sunday, 24 July
Coverage: Follow live across the BBC Sport website & app

African athletes are expected to be successful over middle and long distance at this month's World Athletics Championships, but the continent's sprinters have been turning heads before the track action begins in Eugene.

Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou was the only African medallist in races up to 400m in Doha in 2019, but things look set to change in Oregon.

Ferdinand Omanyala is Africa's fastest man with a personal best of 9.77 seconds - with Olympic silver medallist Fred Kerley and Trayvon Brommel the only two people to have run faster than the Kenyan this season.

However, the 26-year-old faces a race to line up after delays obtaining his American travel visa.

Ghanaian pair Benjamin Azamati and Joseph Paul Amoah, Botswana's world Under-20 champion Letsile Tebogo, Liberia's Emmanuel Matadi and Nigeria's Favour Ashe complete a list of six African men who have run under 10s going into the World Championships.

Akani Simbine was beaten by Omanyala by just 0.003 seconds at last month's African Championships and the South African says African sprinters - "on the rise" - are ready to challenge for top medals.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, meanwhile, says the continent's talent is "not a storm that is going to blow away".

"What we're beginning to witness is the emergence of world-class sprinters plying their trade and training in Africa," Coe added.

"They will go to Eugene with confidence high and expectation they could easily come back with medals.

"If somebody in Africa wins an Olympic or World Championship sprint title, it will have the same impact as David Rudisha winning the 800 metres. It will really inspire more young athletes, particularly to recognize that the sprints are something that's for them."

Amusan targets 100m hurdles podium

Tobi Amusan celebrates winning the women's 100m hurdles at the Paris Diamond League in JuneTobi Amusan set a new African record for the 100m hurdles last month, clocking 12.41s in Paris

In the 200m, South Africa's Luxolo Adams and Liberia's Joseph Fahnbulleh have a real chance of getting to the podium.

Adams won last month's Paris Diamond League in a huge personal best of 19.82s, handing reigning Olympic champion Andre de Grasse a shock defeat, and Fahnbulleh made headlines by winning the NCAA title in 19.83s, the year's sixth-fastest time.

South Africa's Wayde Van Niekerk took 200m silver at the 2017 Worlds, but the 400m world record holder will be concentrating on the longer distance in Eugene.

But it is not just the male sprinters looking to shine.

Nigerian 100m hurdler Tobi Amusan set a new African record at the Paris Diamond League and narrowly missed out on a medal when finishing fourth at both the 2019 World Championships and the Tokyo Olympics.

"Getting to the podium will be a dream come true," the African champion told BBC Sport Africa.

"It will be a reward for all the hard work in training; my sweat, tears, and everything just to make my mum proud because she has sacrificed so much."

Namibia's Christine Mboma took silver in the 200m at the Tokyo Olympics but travels to the Championships pretty much untested this season.

She will be competing for the first time since sustaining a thigh injury in May but Mboma is still the third-fastest woman this year.

Cheptegei and Obiri face challenges

Ethiopia's Selemon Barega crosses the finish line ahead of second-placed Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei and Uganda's Jacob Kiplimo in the men's 10,000m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic GamesEthiopia's Selemon Barega won 10,000m gold at the Tokyo Olympics ahead of Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei

At the last World Championships, nine Africans won gold medals in races from 800m up to the marathon.

Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei will be the first to defend his title in Sunday's men's 10,000m.

The 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder has competed sparingly this season, with his only track appearance being the Prefontaine Classic in May where he ran the shorter race clocking 12 minutes and 35 seconds.

Even though Grant Fisher (USA) and Mohammed Ahmed (Canadia) have clocked the year's fastest times, Cheptegei's main competition is expected to come from the Ethiopian pair of Olympic gold medallist Selemon Barega and world U20 3000m champion Tadese Worku.

A successful defence would see Olympic 5,000m champion Cheptegei join two more Ethiopians, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele, as the only African men to defend a world 10,000m title.

Two-time women's world 5,000m champion Hellen Obiri will be in Eugene but the Kenyan has stepped up to the 10,000m, where she feels she has a better medal chance because her training since 2020 has focused more on endurance than speed.

She will have to get past Great Britain's Eilish McColgan, as well as Ethiopia's world silver medallist Letesenbet Gidey and Ejgayehu Taye with defending champion Sifan Hassan of Netherlands also present.

Women's 800m and both steeplechases catch eye

Peruth Chemutai celebrates winning gold at the Tokyo OlympicsCan Uganda's Peruth Chemutai add the world title to her Olympic gold in the women's 3000m steeplechase?

After watching Morocco's Soufiane El Bakkali win the men's 3000m steeplechase Olympics title last year, two-time world champion Coseslus Kipruto hopes to get back to winning ways.

Having struggled to find his footing, Kipruto missed out on Kenya's Olympic team.

"I will be going to the World Championships to accomplish three things; represent my country, defend my title and restore Kenya's fading steeplechase glory," the 27-year-old said.

"I have been struggling with my fitness. It was very painful to miss the Olympics last year and to watch on TV as my title went to another athlete."

Ethiopia's Lamecha Girma is also one to watch, as one of the year's fastest athletes.

In the women's steeplechase, world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech of Kenya will face two Kenyan-born athletes representing adopted countries in Bahrain's Winfred Yavi and Kazakhstan's Norah Jeruto.

Throw in Uganda's reigning Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai and you have a perfect recipe for a thrilling race.

The absence of South Africa's Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya's Margaret Wambui in the 2019 World Championships because of World Athletics' DSD rule saw a new 800m star crowned when Halimah Nakaayi triumphed.

The Ugandan has not been able to exert dominance since then, and the two-lap race will see rising stars like Olympic champion Athing Mu of the USA, Kenya's Mary Moraa and South Africa's Prudence Sekgodiso chase a maiden world title.

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