The starting gun of the 2015 IAAF World Championships in athletics is just days away. From August 22 to August 30 the cameras will be directed at Beijing, China, for the biggest athletics event of the year. For Colombia, leaping lady Caterine Ibargüen, accompanied by 12 other cafeteros, will be representing the yellow, blue and red flag. Freek Huigen looks at what is in store for Colombian athletics fans
With the likes of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Genzebe Dibaba – fresh from breaking the 23 year-old 1500 metre world record in Monaco in July – and Caterine Ibargüen all set to compete, the world’s top track and field stars will be at the biennial tournament. Colombia’s flag bearer will be triple jump favourite Ibargüen. The 31 year-old from Apartado, Antioquia is unbeaten in each of the 28 official events in which she has taken part in since the 2012 London Olympics, and is ready to defend the world title she obtained in Moscow 2013. Ibargüen, who is also aiming to break the 20 year-old world record of 15.50 meters, will face stiff competition from Russia, Ukraine and her own country.
Yosiris Urrutia, the 29 year old athlete from Antioquia – the same region as Ibargüen – won the bronze medal at the most recent Pan American Games in Toronto and, this time as the outsider, will be aiming for a repeat performance in Beijing. Other Colombian action on the field will come from Mauricio Ortega in the discus and Flor Ruiz in the javelin.
On the track, the one to watch for Colombia is Muriel Coneo in the 1,500 metres. The 28 year-old athlete from Isla Fuerte, Córdoba comes fresh from a gold medal at the Pan American Games. While expectations at home might be high, she is not considered a medal contender given her position outside the top 50 in the 2015 IAAF world ranking. Completing the delegation on the track are Rafith Rodríguez in the 800 metres and Gerard Giraldo in the 3,000 metre steeplechase.
In the race walk, Colombia has five representatives. Luis Fernando López – bronze medal winner at the 20 kilometre at this event in Daegu, Korea in 2011 – will this time compete in the 50 kilometre walk. In the 20 kilometre event Éider Arévalo, José Montaña and Kenny Pérez will be competing in the men’s race, with Sandra Lorena Arenas the only Colombian in the women’s field.
Evelis Aguilar’s appearance at the championships will be historic, no matter the result, for she is set to become the first ever Colombian to compete in the heptathlon at a World Championship. Aguilar earned her spot at the competition by winning the South American Championships in Lima this year. The 22 year-old from Chigorodo, Antioquia started her career as a 400 metre runner but an injury pushed her towards the heptathlon two years ago and – though she is not yet among the favourites – she is definitely on her way up.
On August 24, Colombia will be hoping, and indeed expecting, to be celebrating Caterine Ibargüen’s gold medal. Any more podium finishes will be a pleasant surprise.
The 2015 IAAF World Championships will be broadcasted live daily from August 22 to August 30 on Señal Colombia between 5:30 and 8:30 AM.
By Freek Huigen