IAAF World Championships 2013: Previewing Thursday's Action from Moscow

Tim KeeneyContributor IAugust 14, 2013

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 12:  Michael Tinsley of the United States competes in the Men's 400 metres hurdles heats during Day Three of the 14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 at Luzhniki Stadium on August 12, 2013 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Wednesday was supposed to be a "down" day at the IAAF World Championships. 

Of the nine days of competition, it was one of just three without an afternoon session. But unlike the other two of that nature on Days 8 and 9, it featured just one final: the 50K Race Walk.

But wouldn't you know it, the longest race of the competition turned out to be a thrilling battle. Ireland's "Rocky" Robert Heffernan needed a world-leading time to slightly upset Russian home favorite Mikhail Ryzhov, who achieved a personal best, and Australia's Jared Tallent, who won silver in London last summer. 

Throw in some exciting qualification, and the slowest day of the competition was anything but that, highlighting just how enthralling the World Championships can be.

With two sessions and six finals Thursday, Day 6 figures to be scintillating—and if a supposed slow day becomes enthralling, I have no idea what a supposed scintillating day will turn into. 


Day 6 Schedule

Note: A complete look at the schedule, results and participants can be found here at IAAF.com


Event to Watch: Men's 400-Meter Hurdles

If you're planning on laying down some bets on the athletes in Moscow, I suggest running away from this event as fast as you can. Then, once you stop running, turn and run some more.

It is completely unpredictable. 

London gold medalist Felix Sanchez has looked inconsistent this season, and his season-best time is faster than just three other competitors in the final. 2011 World Champion Dai Greene didn't even qualify. 2007 and 2009 World Champion Kerron Clement finished seventh at the Monaco Diamond League less than a month ago. 

The favorite may be American Michael Tinsley, but good luck figuring him out. After finishing second at the 2012 Olympics, he had a good start to 2013 only to turn in mediocre performances at Birmingham and Lausanne in June and July. However, he came back with a somewhat surprising win at the London Diamond League just two weeks ago, once again sending shockwaves through the event. 

Just to add to the confusion, you also have Trinidad and Tobago's Jehue Gordon, who had the fastest time in the semis and won in Monaco with an impressive time of 48.00 seconds, the second-best of the season behind Tinsley. 

I don't envy bookmakers on this one, but I do know the wide-open nature of the race will making for an electrifying 48 seconds. 


Athlete to Watch: Bohdan Bondarenko, High Jump

The 23-year-old Ukranian is one to watch, as long as he doesn't get disqualified for bringing in the invisible trampoline he has been using lately. 

Bondarenko has always been a viable threat in this competition, winning golds in 2011 at the European Under-23 Championships and the Summer Universiade. But this season, he has taken his game to another level—literally. 

At the Doha Diamond League, he set a personal best with a jump of 2.33 meters, only to beat that in June by clearing 2.36, only to once again top that with an astounding hop of 2.41 in Lausanne in July. 

That's the first time someone has cleared that number since Javier Sotomayor did it in London in 1994, and it's the sixth-highest mark of all time

So yeah, it's safe to say all eyes will be on Bondarenko, because with the way he has continually improved in 2013, it won't be long before he sets a world record.

Don't think he's a lock to win, either, as Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim cleared 2.40 in Eugene in June—it's the first time since 1991 that two men have topped 2.40 in the same year.