With the Women’s World Championships Qualification stages set to begin on Wednesday 21 August at the Fengshan Stadium in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, we profile some of the athletes who will be battling it out to make it into the Final. 70 Women are scheduled to take part and all will be bidding to win the coveted title on Friday.
Defending Champion Mhairi Spence from Great Britain has been bullish about her chances of success but knows she will be competing against an extremely strong field of contenders. Conditions will not favour the 27-year-old as temperatures are set to reach the mid-30s and the humidity levels will peak at 75%.
“I was really proud to win the World Championships last year,” said the current World No.11. “I finally achieved what I knew I could do. It’s nice when you know you’re the best in the world at something, not everyone gets to be a world champion.”
Spence, whose best result this season has been bronze at World Cup #4 in Hungary, is joined in the British women’s squad by 2012 Olympic silver medallist Samantha Murray. World Championships bronze went to Murray in Rome last May as she shared the podium with her compatriot but 2013 has not been the best of years her. With a gruelling training camp at altitude and a 7th place finish at the European Championships, Murray’s confidence will be high in Taiwan’s second largest city.
World No.1 Laura Asadauskaite is another who has been far from her scintillating best this campaign, with the Lithuanian star finding the competition around her stronger than ever. Two silver medals at World Cup #2 in Rio and at the Kremlin Cup in June will not have satisfied one of the most hard-working athletes on the world stage. A gold in Kaohsiung would go a long way to re-affirming her dominance. Teammate Gintare Venckauskaite has accumulated good experience this year and will provide good support.
With two victories apiece in five World Cup Series events this year, the Ukrainian duo of World No.2 and World No.3 Viktoria Tereshuk and Ganna Buriak will be heavy favourites for honours. The two have been the dominant forces in each competition they have been present at this season. Tereshuk took the World Cup #1 title in February before coming 4th in Rio and taking silver at World Cup #4 in Budapest. She then put in a superb display in the World Cup Final combined to claim another quality victory.
Buriak came of age in 2013, recording back-to-back victories at World Cups #3 and #4 and clinching bronze in the Final in Nizhny Novgorod. She confirmed her fine form with silver at the European Championships so is definitely one of the front runners in Taiwan. With Iryna Khokhlova and Junior and Senior European Championships bronze medallist Anastasiya Spas also in the squad, expect Ukraine to be going for both Team and Relay gold.
Victory at Kremlin Cup in June ensured Yane Marques, bronze medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, got back to winning ways after a topsy-turvy campaign. She will be one of the dark horses for the World crown and will be keen to pass on her experience of pressure competitions to compatriot Priscilla Oliveira, who has just broken into the World top 20 after taking silver at the NORCECA Championships in the Dominican Republic last month.
2012’s Junior World Champion Margaux Isaksen from USA has been the model of consistency this season, finishing no lower than 7th in all five competitions she has taking part in. With her first victory on the Senior circuit coming at World Cup #2 in Brazil, the fledgling American talent is guaranteed to be there or there about in Friday’s Final.
Germany’s hopes rest on the shoulders of 2008 Olympic gold medallist Lena Schoneborn with World No.13 Janine Kohlmann only participating in the Team Relay competition due to injury.
The Russian Federation will be banking on the talent of Ekaterina Khuraskina. The World No.7 was a silver medallist on home soil at the World Cup Final and she has all the attributes in her arsenal to be a big threat.
Junior World Champion Zsofia Foldhazi from Hungary has now moved into the World Top 10 after winning the gold at the Senior European Champion in Poland. Having shown her mettle throughout the season, the 20-year-old 2010 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist has the all credentials to be a big hit.
The chance for honours of France and Italy will rest on the shoulders of Elodie Clouvel and Claudia Cesarini respectively. With so much talent set to grace the competition, it promises to be a quality show.