10 Middle/Long distance runners to watch out for in 2017

The world's best athletes will be back in the London Stadium at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from 4-13 August. Here are 10 of the middle and long distance runners we think fans should watch out for in the run-up to the IAAF World Championships London 2017.

09/05/2017 00:30

Mo Farah: As Mo Farah puts his plans in place to make the step up to marathons in the near future, he has confirmed that he will pull the curtain down on his track career at the IAAF World Championships London 2017. And it will be an occasion not to be missed.

Having been unbeatable for four consecutive major global championships, the 34-year-old now has his eyes on becoming the first athlete in history to win three consecutive World Championship 5000/10,000m doubles. To do so, and complete a 'quintuple-double' of major distance titles in the stadium he landed his first Olympic gold medals, would be the most fitting of conclusions to Farah's track career.

David Rudisha: 2015 marked the gradual reascent to the top of the world for the great David Rudisha. Against the odds, and far quicker opposition throughout the year, the rangy Kenyan stamped his authority on the 800m final in Beijing in a fashion akin to his best days and held on for his first World Championship title since 2011. 

His performances in 2016 only helped to reinforce his status as the greatest ever two-lap runner. His 1:42.15 Olympic final-winning time was the fastest since he shattered the world record in the Olympic final back in 2012 and gave a strong indication that Rudisha is primed to be back to his very, very best when he defends his world title in London.

Asbel Kiprop: Olympic finals haven't always proven the happiest of hunting grounds for the world's foremost 1500m runner, but when it comes to World Championships, Asbel Kiprop has been all-conquering for six years. The Kenyan ended 2016 as the world's fastest over the distance, but failed to reproduce his best in the Rio final.

Kiprop has at times threatened to run Hicham El Guerrouj's world record close and will be back again this year with his eyes on a fourth world title. He has shown himself to be imperious at his best, but can be unpredictable when faced with a deep, competitive field. Likely to face three more Kenyans in London as well as a wealth of other contenders for gold, Kiprop will undoubtedly be gripping to see perform.

Clayton Murphy: The 22-year-old American leads the world in the early stages of the 2017 outdoor season and it's difficult to imagine he won't challenge the US record after a breakthrough 2016. Having just barely scraped through the heats as a fastest loser at the Rio Olympics, Murphy delivered the performances of his life to set personal bests in both the semi-final and the final en route to a surprise bronze medal.

After making his major senior debut two years ago in Beijing, Murphy is an advanced and superior athlete to the 20-year-old one who didn't progress beyond the heats. With the success of running rounds in Rio and rubbing shoulders once more with the world's best, he'll doubtless be among the world's top 800m runners in 2017.

Geoffrey Kamworor: Geoffrey Kamworor was thought likely to be the Kenyan who pushed Mo Farah the hardest over 10,000m in Rio, but it was Paul Tanui who posed the Briton the biggest challenge. Kamworor had previously fought with Farah in Beijing over the distance, but was forced to take silver and had talked a good game ahead of the Olympics.

As world half-marathon champion, Kamworor has experience of beating Farah in a major championship environment, though facing the five-time world and four-time Olympic champion on the track, in his home territory, is an entirely different proposition. If he turns up fit and in form, he may just be the Brit's biggest threat.

Laura Muir: Not just one of the stars of British athletics, but one of the hottest properties in world athletics, Laura Muir looks destined to enjoy a fruitful summer in 2017. The 23-year-old ended 2016 as the world's top 1500m runner after registering her second national record of the year in Paris - her 3:55.22 being the 16th fastest in history - and is now preparing to do a 1500/5000m double at the World Championships.

Muir's form in the early months of 2017 suggest she's continuing on the same upward curve as last year, breaking numerous national and European records indoors while winning both the 1500m and 3000m European Indoor Championship titles. Her combination of talent, courage and sheer bloody-mindedness make her compelling viewing and will be amplified by a packed home support in London. 

Caster Semenya: South Africa's Caster Semenya has been untouchable over the 800m for the past 12 months, demonstrating the kind of form which has led to speculation she could be the athlete to finally topple the 34-year-old world record.

Semenya first burst onto the scene at 18 in the 2009 World Championships and appears a shoe-in for gold if she keeps up her dominance from the past year. Her frighteningly quick speed over short distance off the back of often a languid opening to many of her races always makes the Olympic champion intriguing viewing and regularly leaves audiences wondering how much more in the tank she has on her way to commanding wins.

Almaz Ayana: One of the most jaw-dropping performances in recent memory came in the women's 10,000m in Rio when Almaz Ayana annihilated a world record by more than 14 seconds previously considered unbreakable. At just 25 there's every chance the reigning 5000m world champion will proceed to excel in 2017.

Last season also saw Ayana come the closest of anyone to the world record set by fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba in the 5000m, and this year will likely see her continuing to threaten that mark. A distance double is well on the cards for her, and possibly yet another world record-breaking year.

Ruth Jebet: The steeplechase world record was clearly within Ruth Jebet's reach for much of 2016 and after a casual stroll to the second fastest time ever in winning Olympic gold. The Bahraini runner came out less than two weeks later and predictably beat it by six seconds.

The women's steeplechase has already witnessed an incredibly fast start to the year with Jebet coming just third in the opening Diamond League meet in which Hyvin Jepkemoi and Beatrice Chepkoech run the sixth and seventh fastest times in history. The 21-year-old Olympic champion will be looking to bounce back with even faster times in 2017.

Genzebe Dibaba: Another athlete who looks set to compete over two events is Genzebe Dibaba, world record-holder for the 1500m. The Ethiopian younger sister of the great Tirunesh Dibaba was a safe bet for gold in 2015 over her favoured distance, and also picked up bronze in the 5000m, but has hinted she may step up to challenge Ayana over the longer two distances.

Injury in the early months of 2016 disrupted her preparations for Rio, though she came away with silver in the 1500m in a tussle with Kenya's Faith Kipyegon. Dibaba has shown remarkable range from 800m to 5000m, and it will be exciting to see how she transitions up to the 10,000m if and when she makes a final decision on her plans.

Tickets to the IAAF World Championships London 2017 are available at https://tickets.london2017athletics.com