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Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Updated: August 4, 3:21 PM ET
Preview of men's events

Reuters

A preview of the men's events at the 2005 World Track and Field Championships, which begin Saturday in Helsinki:

100 meters
Olympic champion: Justin Gatlin (U.S.)
World champion: Kim Collins (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
World-record holder: Asafa Powell (Jamaica) 9.77 seconds
World leader: Powell 9.77
Breakdown: The anticipated showdown between Gatlin and Powell will not take place after the world record holder pulled out with a groin injury sustained in the London Grand Prix last month. Gatlin went on to win that race in 9.89 seconds for his fastest time of the year. Olympic 200 meters champion Shawn Crawford and Leonard Scott could also make the podium for the United States. Collins will probably have to improve on his lifetime best of 9.98 if he is to retain his title.

200 meters
Olympic champion: Shawn Crawford (U.S.)
World champion: John Capel (U.S.)
World-record holder: Michael Johnson (U.S.) 19.36 seconds
World leader: Wallace Spearmon (U.S.) 19.89
Breakdown: The quickest man this year, Spearmon, made the U.S. team for the event only after Crawford pulled out to concentrate on the 100 and relay. Completing a strong American line-up are Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and defending champion John Capel. Jamaican teenager Usain Bolt will be the main challenge to the Americans.

400 meters
Olympic champion: Jeremy Wariner (U.S.)
World champion: Jerome Young (U.S.)
World-record holder: Michael Johnson 43.18 seconds
World leader: Wariner 44.20
Breakdown: Another American sweep is in prospect with Wariner and his training partner Darold Williamson the fastest pair this year. Andrew Rock completes the U.S. line-up. Grenada's Alleyne Francique and Canada's Christopher Tyler are the only non-Americans to feature in the year's top 10.

800 meters
Olympic champion: Yuriy Borzakovsky (Russia)
World champion: Djabir Said-Guerni (Algeria)
World-record holder: Wilson Kipketer (Denmark) 1:41.11 seconds
World leader: Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (South Africa) 1:44.08
Breakdown: Mulaudzi is South Africa's best hope of a track medal. Second at the Olympics and third in Paris two years ago, Mulaudzi has beaten Kenya's Wilfred Bungei, who has the year's Second-fastest time, and Borzakovsky. Said-Guerni has not made an impact this season, finishing last in the Rome Golden League and sixth in Lausanne and Madrid.

1,500 meters
Olympic champion: Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco) World champion: El Guerrouj World-record holder: El Guerrouj 3:26.00 World leader: Rashid Ramzi (Bahrain) 3:30.00 Breakdown: Four-times world champion El Guerrouj is not in Helsinki because of health problems. Kenyan-born Olympic silver medalist Bernard Lagat is also missing because he is not yet eligible to represent the United States after switching nationalities. Portugal's Rui Silva is the only athlete from the Athens podium in the event. Ramzi set the year's fastest time when winning in Rome ahead of Kenyan Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, who took the Paris Golden League race.

5,000 meters
Olympic champion: Hicham El Guerrouj (Morocco)
World champion: Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)
World-record holder: Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) 12:37.35
World leader: Bekele 12:40.18
Breakdown: In the absence of El Guerrouj, Bekele's main competition for the gold will come from Kipchoge and Isaac Songok, who has the second fastest time of the year. Bekele's younger brother Tariku is also in the field.

10,000 meters
Olympic champion: Bekele
World champion: Bekele
World-record holder: Bekele 26:20.31
World leader: Bekele 26:28.72
Breakdown: As in the women's event, Ethiopia could sweep the medals led by Bekele. Olympic runner-up Sileshi Sihine and Abebe Dinkesa, who has the second fastest time in the world this year, are Bekele's team mates.

Marathon
Olympic champion: Stefano Baldini (Italy)
World champion: Jaoaud Gharib (Morocco)
World-record holder: Paul Tergat (Kenya) 2:04:55
World leader: Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:07.26
Breakdown: Tergat and Lel are absent from Helsinki. Spain's world silver medalist Julio Rey has the second fastest time of the year, behind Lel. Baldini and Gharib are both in the field as is Tokyo marathon winner Toshinari Takaoka of Japan.

Steeplechase
Olympic champion: Ezekiel Kemboi (Kenya)
World champion: Saif Saaeed Shaheen (Qatar)
World-record holder: Shaheen 7:53.63
World leader: Shaheen 7:56.34
Breakdown: An interesting battle is in prospect between Kenyan-born world champion Shaheen and his former compatriot Paul Koech. Shaheen, who has not lost since 2002, was pushed hard by Koech at the Rome Golden League, where the pair ran the fastest two times of the year. They will be up against Olympic champion Kemboi.

110 hurdles
Olympic champion: Liu Xiang (China)
World champion: Allen Johnson (U.S.)
World-record holders: Liu/Colin Jackson (Britain) 12.91 seconds
World leader: Ladji Doucoure (France) 12.97
Breakdown: All eyes will be on American four-time world champion Johnson and Liu Xiang. Johnson beat Liu in New York last month but the joint world record holder won their previous meeting in Oregon after Johnson was disqualified. Doucoure could spring a surprise. He has the fastest time of the year and beat the other two in Paris this month. The Frenchman also won in Oslo last week, where Johnson could only manage fourth.

400 hurdles
Olympic champion: Felix Sanchez (Dominican Republic)
World champion: Sanchez
World-record holder: Kevin Young (U.S.) 46.78
World leader: Kerron Clement (U.S.) 47.24
Breakdown: Sanchez has a foot injury but is determined to compete. His rivals for gold are likely to be U.S. champion Clement, who has the fastest time of the year, and his compatriots Bershawn Jackson and James Carter, the winner of the two Golden League meetings.

4x100 relay
Olympic champions: Britain
World champions: U.S.
World-record holders: U.S. 37.40
World leaders: Trinidad and Tobago 38.38
Breakdown: Only a dropped baton is likely to prevent the United States from winning the title for the eighth time. Canada is the only other country to have won at the world championships, in 1995 and 1997 when the Americans failed to finish their heat. Britain was the surprise Olympic champions when Mark Lewis-Francis held off Maurice Greene on the final leg. Asafa Powell has said he will run for the Jamaican team if fit.

4x400 relay
Olympic champions: U.S.
World champions: U.S.
World-record holders: U.S. 2:54.20
World leaders: Britain 3:00.51
Breakdown: Given the strength of their individual athletes, the United States are favorites to retain the title they have won at every world championships since 1993. The Soviet Union, in 1983, and Britain, in 1991, is the only other countries to take the gold.

High jump
Olympic champion: Stefan Holm (Sweden)
World champion: Jacques Freitag (South Africa)
World-record holder: Javier Sotomayor (Cuba) 2.45 meters
World leader: Freitag/Andriy Sokolovskyy (Ukraine) 2.38
Breakdown: Freitag appears to have shaken off his injury-prone tag and defends his title in what should be a showdown with Holm. Freitag and Sokolovskyy, fifth in Athens, lead the way this season with 2.38-metre clearances.

Pole vault
Olympic champion: Tim Mack (U.S.)
World champion: Giuseppe Gibilisco (Italy)
World-record holder: Sergei Bubka (Ukraine) 6.15
World leader: Paul Burgess (Australia) 6.00
Breakdown: Burgess, who has recorded the three best vaults this season, misses the championships through injury while Mack failed to qualify for the U.S. team. In their absence U.S. indoor champion Brad Walker and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Toby Stevenson, both with Golden League wins to their name, should fight it out for gold.

Long jump
Olympic champion: Dwight Phillips (U.S.)
World champion: Phillips
World-record holder: Mike Powell (U.S.) 8.95
World leader: Phillips 8.47
Breakdown: Phillips, beaten into second place at the U.S. championships by Miguel Pate, heads to Helsinki in good form having registered a season-leading 8.47 meters in mid-July. Phillips looks set for gold again, although Pate and fellow American Brian Johnson should push him close.

Triple jump
Olympic champion: Christian Olsson (Sweden)
World champion: Olsson
World-record holder: Jonathan Edwards (Britain) 18.29
World leader: Marian Oprea (Romania) 17.81
Breakdown: An event thrown wide open by the Olsson's absence. Oprea, who won silver in Athens, registered a season-leading 17.81 in Lausanne to underline his title credentials while Brazilian Jadel Gregorio has jumped consistently well this year.

Shot Put
Olympic champion: Yuriy Belonog (Ukraine)
World champion: Andrey Mikhenevich (Belarus)
World-record holder: Randy Barnes (U.S.) 23.12
World leader: John Godina (U.S.) 22.20
Breakdown: The gold medal looks destined for the United States with the top nine throws this year being recorded by Godina, Christian Cantwell and Adam Nelson, the world and Olympic silver medalist. Godina, the 2001 world champion, is the only man to have gone over 22 meters in 2005.

Discus
Olympic champion: Virgilijus Alekna (Lithuania)
World champion: Alekna
World-record holder: Juergen Schult (East Germany) 74.08
World leader: Alekna 70.67
Breakdown: Alekna, who retained his title in Athens after the disqualification of Hungarian Zoltan Fazekas, is hot favorite to win successive world golds. Alekna boasts seven of the eight best throws this season, three of which sailed over 70 meters.

Hammer
Olympic champion: Koji Murofushi (Japan)
World champion: Ivan Tikhon (Belarus)
World-record holder: Yuriy Sedykh (Soviet Union) 86.74
World leader: Tikhon 86.73
Breakdown: World champion and Olympic silver medalist Tikhon will be favorite to retain his title after coming within a centimeter of Yuriy Sedykh's 19-year-old world record to win the Belarus championship. Compatriot Vadim Devyyatovskiy threw more than 83 meters to finish second to Tikhon. Olympic champion Koji Murofushi misses Helsinki because of a back problem.

Javelin
Olympic champion: Andreas Thorkildsen (Norway)
World champion: Sergei Makarov (Russia)
World-record holder: Jan Zelezny (Czech Republic) 98.48
World leader: Tero Pitkamaki (Finland) 91.53
Breakdown: Finland have high hopes of a medal in Pitkamaki as world champion Sergei Makarov is the only other man to have thrown more than 90 meters this season. Both men finished ahead of Norway's Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen at the Oslo Golden League meeting last week. World record holder Jan Zelezny misses out on a record ninth consecutive world championship because of an Achilles problem.

Decathlon
Olympic champion: Roman Sebrle (Czech Republic)
World champion: Tom Pappas (U.S.)
World-record holder: Sebrle 9,026 points
World leader: Sebrle 8,534
Breakdown: Sebrle, the Olympic champion and only man to break 9,000 points, has never won the world title. His best finish was second to Tom Pappas two years ago. American Bryan Clay should make the podium after taking Olympic silver.