World Championship 2023: Hodgkinson v Mu, Kerley v Jacobs: the key rivalries in Budapest

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Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain will try to beat Athing Mu for world gold

World Athletics Championships 2023

Event: budapest Dates: August 19-27

Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, the BBC Sport website and app; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds; live text in evening sessions.

Rivalries can define sports, athletes, eras.

They are often the prism through which historic sporting events are followed, enjoyed and remembered.

That is likely to be the case when the World Championships kick off in Budapest on Saturday, as athletics’ biggest names and rising stars battle for global supremacy.

There will be no shortage of exciting contests to add additional intrigue throughout the 10 days of competition.

BBC Sport takes a look at the key battles.

Keely Hodgkinson v Athing Mu v Mary Moraa (Women’s 800m)

Keely Hodgkinson arrives in Budapest as one of Great Britain’s biggest gold medal hopes.

Last year, in a thrilling race in Eugene, the 800m Olympic silver medalist lost the world title by eight-hundredths of a second to American Athing Mu.

Both athletes were 20 years old at the time; it was the first major matchup in a rivalry that could define the event for years.

Hodgkinson has responded strongly in 2023, with the defense of his European indoor title and a new British record of one minute 55.77 seconds among his successes.

It’s been quite a different year for Mu, who didn’t compete for 11 months after her world gold.

He finally started his season eight weeks before this year’s championships, taking victory in 1:58.73 at the New York Grand Prix, but that remains his only 800m in 2023 after choosing to run over 1500m in trials. from USA

The 23-year-old world bronze medalist’s erratic running style, who varies her pace to frustrate her rivals, will be a major challenge, as demonstrated at the Lausanne Diamond League in June.

Fred Kerley v Marcell Jacobs (Men’s 100m)

Is the 100-meter head-to-head that fans have waited to see all year finally about to happen?

World champion Fred Kerley and Olympic gold medalist Marcell Jacobs fueled excitement for a growing rivalry — and an unprecedented one-on-one race — when they exchanged messages on social media earlier this year.

Italian Jacobs, 28, has seen his career interrupted by injuries since his stunning 2021 Olympic victory.

He was not present in Eugene when Tokyo runner-up Kerley led a historic American medal sweep on home soil.

Kerley has played into his rival’s limited racing calendar by offering Jacobs a matchup, suggesting he did not expect his wild card to be accepted.

Jacobs, a long jumper until 2019, responded by sharing an image of his Olympic victory, accompanied by the words: “Whenever you want, wherever you want. But remember when it mattered most it ended like this.”

While Kerley sits third in the 2023 standings with a 9.88-second performance, trailing only Britain’s Zharnel Hughes and Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, Jacobs has endured another injury-plagued season.

The Italian managed just one outdoor race, a disappointing seventh place in 10.21sec in June, before being sidelined with a back problem, leaving his fitness and medal chances unknown ahead of Budapest.

Shericka Jackson v Sha’Carri Richardson (Women’s 100m)

In the women’s 100m, Shericka Jackson and Sha’Carri Richardson, the two fastest athletes in the world this year, will start favorites in another wide-open sprint event.

Jackson, 29, is aiming to improve on the silver medal she won last year behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. She set the fastest time this season when she ran 10.65 seconds in Kingston in July, while she’s also the second fastest over the 200m, behind American Gabrielle Thomas.

However, she was beaten by Richardson in the Silesian Diamond League before placing third in London behind Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith.

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A season-best 10.71sec, Richardson has run four of the six fastest times this year and was unbeaten in the 100m until finishing second to St. Lucia’s Julien Alfred in Hungary in mid-July.

The American champion, who missed the Tokyo Olympics due to an anti-doping rule violation for cannabis use, keeps reminding people: “I’m not back, I’m better.”

The victory in Budapest would be a forceful way of confirming it.

Fraser-Pryce, Ta Lou, Julien Alfred and Saint Lucia’s Asher-Smith are among several other athletes with podium ambitions and all have run 10.85 or faster this year.

Noah Lyles v Erriyon Knighton (Men’s 200m)

Few seem capable of denying Noah Lyles a third consecutive 200m world title.

The 26-year-old continues to close in on Usain Bolt’s long-standing world record of 19.19 set in 2009 after becoming the fastest American of all time over the distance when he clocked 19.31 for gold in Eugene last year. past.

Taking bronze, at the age of 18, rising star Erriyon Knighton claimed his first major medal four years after switching to track and field from American football.

There was a cold exchange between the pair in US testing last year, after Lyles turned and gestured towards Knighton as he crossed the line just two hundredths of a second ahead of his compatriot.

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In the post-race interview, Knighton did not stay long after hearing Lyles talk about his win, stating that it was “not over” before he left.

While Lyles prevailed again at Worlds, Knighton, now 19, is already the fifth-fastest 200m athlete of all time.

With an additional year of experience and conditioning under his belt, his best time of 19.72 seconds ranks third this year, behind Botswana’s Lyles and Letsile Tebogo, as he aims for a podium finish.

Perhaps the clearest measure of Knighton’s potential is the fact that Bolt, a sprint legend and eight-time Olympic gold medalist, was no faster than the American’s current under-20 world record (19.49 seconds) until he had three more years.

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