Thiam, Muir and three other athletes who can take World Championships by storm

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Ahead of the World Championships which get underway on Friday, Matt Majendie looks at five names set to light up the track in London.

Which athlete are you looking forward to seeing the most?

Let us know using Twitter or via our Facebook page.

Laura Muir (1500/5000m)

Billed as a combination of marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe and two-time Olympic champion Kelly Holmes, this could be the moment for the 23-year-old to finally shine on the global stage.

Doubling up in the 1500 and 5000 metres, the former is arguably her best bet although she faces stiff competition from the likes of Caster Semenya, Genzebe Dibaba and Sifan Hassan.

Laura Muir.

Laura Muir.

Nafi Thiam (Heptathlon)

The Belgian athlete was in a class of her own in the heptathlon at the Rio Olympic Games but still remains a relatively under-the-radar sporting figure.

There is conjecture that the 22-year-old will one day break Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s world record but, with 278 points between her best and that of the American, that might may not happen in London.

Nafissatou Thiam.

Nafissatou Thiam.

Emmanuel Korir (800m)

The 22-year- old has been billed as the “next David Rudisha” and, with Rudisha out injured, his countryman and fellow school alumni – the pair both went to Kimuron Secondary School in Iten – is the favourite to win gold.

Rudisha won his first world title at the same age in a time (1:43.91), a time that Korir has comfortably eclipsed this season.

Emmanuel Korir.

Emmanuel Korir.

Mariya Lasitskene (high jump)

The Russian knows that had it not been for the blanket ban for Russian athletes in Rio she would probably now be world champion, jumping higher in events in Russia than those at the Olympics.

This year, she boasts the 10 best jumps in the world this year – her highest mark of 2.06 metres and looks destined for gold as one of 19 Russians allowed to compete as a neutral.

Maria Lasitskene.

Maria Lasitskene.

Fred Kerley (400m)

In all probability, Wayde van Niekerk will add the 400m world title to his Olympic one from last summer but the South African is wary of the 22-year- old American in his first proper year in the senior ranks.

His best time this season is just eight-hundredths of a second behind that of van Niekerk and former Olympic champion Quincy Watts has predicted him to be one of the greats.

Fred Kerley.

Fred Kerley.

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Bolt's career in numbers ahead of his final bow at World Championships in London

Usain Bolt will look to defend his 100 metres title at the World Championships in London this weekend as he starts the countdown to retirement, which also includes a 4x100m relay.

Bolt has dominated sprinting since taking double individual gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, going on to win a further six Olympic golds and also picking up 11 world titles.

He also holds world records of 9.58 and 19.19sec in the 100 and 200m, both set when winning at the 2009 Berlin worlds.

In the gallery above, we take a look back at some of Bolt’s remarkable achievements.

What was your favourite Bolt memory?

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Bolt and four other talking points ahead of the World Championships in London

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Five years on from hosting London 2012, the city once more plays host to a major sporting event with the IAAF World Championships.

The spotlight will undoubtedly be on one man, namely Usain Bolt, but the championships are more than just the sport’s biggest star.

On the eve of the event at the former Olympic Park, Matt Majendie looks at some of the key talking points looming in the ensuing 10 days of track and field action.

THE BOLT FAREWELL

The aforementioned Bolt will bring down the curtain on his illustrious career in London. For his swansong, Bolt has opted against the 200metres, instead focusing individually only the 100m, which begins on Friday and reaches its climax on Saturday, and then on the 4x100m relay on the subsequent week of the championships.

IAAF president Seb Coe this week likened the world’s fastest man to Muhammad Ali and admitted he would be similarly irreplaceable when he hangs up his running spikes at the end of London 2017.

Bolt is past the peak of his powers but, even a Bolt below his best ought to be enough to ensure his gold medal tally ends with 13 world titles to add to the eight golds already achieved at Olympic level.

Much like Ali, he will be determined to deliver the knock-out punch.

SUB-43-SECOND MAN

Coe has also said that other stars will step up to the plate in the post-Bolt years but Wayde van Niekerk has already done that to a certain extent. To some, the South African upstaged Bolt in Rio de Janeiro as he broke Michael Johnson’s 17-year- old world record to win the 400metres from lane eight, the first man in Olympic history to do so. It was undeniably the best individual running display at those Games.

For the 25-year- old from Cape Town, though, there is a twist to these championships in that he has dual attentions on the track with doubling up in both the 400m and 200m.

Arguably the greatest challenge to that golden double is Botswanan sprinter Isaac Makwala, something of a late bloomer at the age of 30, who is also doubling up and boast the fastest 200m in the world this year and the third fastest 400m.

THE FARAH FAREWELL

Globally, Bolt will take the greatest adulation from the crowd and the watching TV audiences, but there is a farewell – although only to the track – for arguably the greatest distance runner of all time.

Mo Farah has made it clear that he will not run on the track after 2017, his intention being to switch to marathon running for the final years of his running career, however long that proves to be.

Ever since London 2012, the Londoner has made it his trademark to win double gold on the track over the 5000 and 10,000m be it at Olympic, World or European. In his home city, the target remains the same and, at the age of 34, he still appears to be the quickest man in the world over both distances, his Ethiopian and Kenyan rivals still scratching their heads about how to beat him over the final lap.

HYPERANDROGENISM ROW

The row over hyperandrogenism has, in a sense, been parked until September following the recent interim ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But it looks set to be a key talking point from the start of the track action as Caster Semenya goes for a middle-distance double in, first, the 1500m and then the 800m, the event she has dominated on track in recent seasons.

Hyperadrongenism means that Semenya – and it has to be said other athletes competing in London (although she is both the most high-profile and the best) – produces an excess of androgens, such as testosterone.

Some argue it gives her an unfair advantage and her testosterone level should be kept in check, others that she has every right to compete as she is.

THE RUSSIAN QUESTION

The question of the Russian team’s eligibility to compete in London has again been a talking point leading into these championships.

IAAF Congress is yet to officially rule on the matter, with Russian officials still set to plead their case on Thursday, but it looks certain that the ban will remain in place until November at the earliest. That said, there will be a greater swathe of Russian athletes competing – admittedly as neutrals – unlike in Rio where Darya Klishina was the sole representative.

In total, 19 athletes have passed the necessary IAAF protocols in order to compete legitimately at these World Championships. But following past revelations of a state-sponsored doping programme, it looks likely that any Russians winning medals – however neutral – would most likely ruffle a few feathers

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