Ta Lou's quest for 200m gold highlights Day 8

Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast beats Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain and Crystal Emmanuel of Canada in the 200 metres semifinals at the IAAF World Athletics Championships. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

As the final weekend of London 2017 begins, African athletics fans will be eager for Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou to go one podium step better in the 200m than she managed in the 100m.

Friday at London 2017 is broken in two with the morning session dedicated to three men's decathlon events -- 100m, long jump and shot put -- as well as the women's 100m hurdles heats and qualification for the women's discus throw and men's high jump.

African athletics fans may well be interested in the progress of Algeria's Larbi Bourrada in the decathlon as well as Lindsay Lindley, Oluwatobiloba Amusan (both Nigeria) and Egypt's Lina Ahmed in the 100m hurdles.

The 29-year-old Bourrada has been Africa's best for years now, but is only ranked 24th in the world in 2017 so personal bests in the individual events will likely be considered as wins for him.

Amusan, meanwhile, is ranked seventh in the world and should comfortably make it through as one of the four in her heat. Her compatriot Lindley and Ahmed find themselves in the same heat, alongside the events favourite Kendra Harrison. Lindley may have to be at her very best to advance while Ahmed has the slowest personal best in all five heats.

Meanwhile, the evening session -- or afternoon as the IAAF call it -- comprises of four finals, two further men's decathlon events (high jump and 400m) and semifinals of the women's 100m hurdles (a quickish turnaround for them), women's 800m and men's 1500m.

The 'Big 3' in the 800m, South Africa's Caster Semenya, Francine Niyonsaba (Burundi) and Margaret Wambui of Kenya all safely made it through to the semis (starting at 20:35, CAT), while five other Africans did too.

However, with only two places automatically up for grabs, the third heat which features Niyonsaba, Wambui, Halima Nakaayi (Uganda) and Gena Lofstrand (South Africa) will lessen the contingent from the continent.

Heat two will also been hotly contested with Semenya, her mouthy British 'rival' Lynsey Sharp, Charlene Lipsey (USA), Selina Buchel (Switzerland) and Poland's in-form Angelina Cichocka present.

As it happens, the first heat of the men's 1500m semifinals (21:10, CT) is also pretty stacked. Fighting for five automatic places to the final will be the favourite Elijah Manangoi, three-time defending world champion Asbel Kiprop (both Kenya), Ronald Musagala (Uganda) and Abdalaati Iguider (Morocco), Morocco-born Bahraini Sadik Mikhou, Great Britain's Jake Wightman and Filip Ingebrigtsen of Norway.

Kenyans Timothy Cheruiyot and Ronald Kwemoi will be thankful for a more stress-free second heat.


By then, the women's long jump final will be going in earnest considering it starts at 20:10 (CAT).

The first thing the jumpers would have done this morning is look out of their windows before searching 'London weather' as they had the worst of Wednesday night's miserable weather in London.

As a result, not one jumped the automatic qualifying distance of 6.70m, not the favourite for gold Brittney Reese, nor her US teammate and great rival Tianna Bartoletta.

The latter went closest with 6.64m, and as reigning world and Olympic champion will be bidding for her third consecutive global title.

She also beat Reese, who won gold at London 2012 in the middle of her run of three consecutive world titles, at the US Championships which suggests the two will be pushing each other to the limit again.

The candidates to also get on the podium is headed by Serbia's Ivana Spanovic, who has won bronze at the last three global championships. Meanwhile, Lorraine Ugen will have the backing of the crowd, Germany's Claudia Salman-Rath and Darya Klishina (Russia) have jumped long indoors in 2017 and Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will represent African interests.


The men's hammer throw suffered a similar fate to the women's long jump on Wednesday so the 12 finalists will also be thankful for the clear conditions predicted for Friday evening at 21:30 (CAT).

Poland's Pawel Fajdek and Wojciech Nowicki are the only two who have thrown beyond 80 metres in 2017 and led their respective qualifying pools on Wednesday to mark themselves out as the clear favourites.

Fajdek, the two-time defending world champion, shockingly bombed at Rio 2016 so he will have atonement on his mind while Nowicki will look to better his bronze medals from Beijing 2015 and last year's Olympic Games.

In terms of the minor medals, Olympic champion Dilshod Nazarov (Tajikistan) and Belarus' Pavel Bareisha cannot be discounted while further improvements on their personal bests for Valeriy Pronkin (Russia) and Bence Halasz (Hungary) will put them in the running too.


African women will come to the fore in the women's 3000m steeplechase final at 22:25 (CAT), though the Kenyan-born favourite Ruth Jebet runs in Bahraini colours.

Jebet, won the Olympic title in Rio after setting a world record in Paris, but she won't have things her own way. The primary candidate to upset her is Celliphine Chespol, who set a world Under-20 record at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene and is the only finalist to go sub-nine minutes in 2017.

Also, fellow Kenyan Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkemoi, the Rio 2016 silver medallist, beat Jebet in Doha back while Beatrice Chepkoech will complete the Kenyan assault.

The USA's Emma Coburn, who took the third podium place in Rio, is the most likely to break up the African-born quartet, with Genevieve LaCaze (Australia) and Germany's Gesa Krause the outside bets.


Wrapping up Day 8's action will be the women's 200m final at 22:50 (CAT), which has emerged as a three-way battle for gold.

Those favourites, Shaunae Miller-Uibo (Bahamas), defending champion Dafne Schippers (Netherlands) and Ivory Coast's Marie-Josee Ta Lou all ran similar times in winning their semifinals and all looked like they had plenty left in the tank.

That is despite them all having already missed out on the top step at London 2017.

Ta Lou ran a lifetime best in the 100m final but was pipped at the line by Torie Bowie (USA) while Schippers -- who tends to run better over 200m which her Beijing 2015 win and Olympic silver proves -- claimed a relatively distant bronze. Miller-Uibo will seek redemption even more intently after blowing a comfortable lead in the 400m final when she apparently looked at the big screen and stumbled... and crossing in fourth.

If any of the other finalists is going to break that trio up then it is likely to be either Deajah Stevens, the American who has set the second-best time of 2017 among the finalists, or Dina Asher-Smith on the back of thunderous home support.