A reigning Olympic champion rediscovering his form, a defending world champion with a point to prove and the fastest man in 2022 will headline a packed 100 metres field when the World Championships get underway at Hayward Field in Eugene on Friday.
Olympic gold medallist Lamont Marcell Jacobs returns to the 100m big stage after muscle injuries ruled him out of several Diamond League meets and the Italian has been far from his best this season.
Having stunned the world with a European record time of 9.80 seconds in Tokyo, Jacobs has since been out of the limelight and has not run a sub-10 second race — without wind assistance — this year despite winning his fifth national title last month.
“If it were up to me I would compete at every opportunity, but this is what sport is all about. We are human beings, not machines,” Jacobs said before he headed to Eugene early to “test the waters”.
The Italian is up against stiff competition with a group of American sprinters vying for the title and ensuring the gold returns to the US for a third consecutive time — none more so than Christian Coleman.
The 26-year-old beat former champion Justin Gatlin to win gold at the worlds two years ago in Doha but an 18-month suspension for breaching anti-doping whereabouts rules prevented him from a shot at Olympic glory.
Since his return, Coleman warmed up with two sub-10 second finishes last month at the New York Grand Prix and the USA Track & Field (USATF) Championships — also held at Hayward Field.
Coleman has had his eye firmly set on defending his world title since the day it was confirmed he would miss the Tokyo Games. Although he did not run in the USATF championships final, he has a wildcard entry for the worlds.
Both Jacobs and Coleman will be wary of Olympic silver medallist Fred Kerley — the American who ran the fastest 100m this season in 9.76 seconds last month.
Kerley has displayed incredible versatility to switch from the 400m to focus on the shorter distances to become the sixth-fastest man in history.
He underlined his credentials when he beat both Marvin Bracy-Williams and Trayvon Bromell — who won Diamond League gold at Eugene — by a huge margin to win at the USATF championships where all seven finalists ran in under 10 seconds.
“I’m producing consistent times and a bomb will drop eventually,” Kerley had said after the race, adding that he was eyeing Usain Bolt’s world record of 9.58 seconds.
“I put the work in and I actually expected something faster, but I’ll wait until the World Championships.”