Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview London, UK

Day 5 Preview – London 2012

Just four finals will be contested tomorrow (Tuesday) as the athletics programme reaches its mid-way point, but with heats, semis and qualifying rounds-a-plenty, the day promises to be packed with drama.

The climax of the night will be the men's 1500m as Asbel Kiprop looks to successfully defend his title. But the semi-finals showed that north Africans could dominate as Taoufik Makhloufi and Abdelaati Iguider strode well clear of their rivals to suggest they could be challenging for medals in the final.

Kiprop's team-mates Silas Kiplagat and Nixon Chepseba will also be tough, so too will New Zealand's Nick Willis.

The semi-finals and final of the women's 100m Hurdles is also held tomorrow evening. Last year in Daegu Sally Pearson broke the 'cover curse', becoming the first coverstar of the daily programmes not to suffer some sort of misfortune.

But now the Australian will be looking to break the Olympic sprint hurdles curse. For the past five Games, the pre-race favourite for the event has failed to win gold in one way or another. The same holds true of the athletes who won World Indoor titles in an Olympic year.

If anyone is capable of ending that streak, it is Pearson. She looked supreme in today's heats with her 12.57 win and appears capable of going much quicker.

Can Harting maintain wining streak?

Germany's Robert Harting has one of the best competitive records of any track and field athlete in the world right now, having not lost for two years in the Discus. The two-time World Champion will be looking to add Olympic gold to his ever-growing collection of medals in tomorrow's final, where he will take on defending champion Gerd Kanter and world bronze medallist Ehsan Hadadi.

But can Virgilijus Alekna spring a surprise? The 40-year-old took gold in Sydney and Athens and has this year broken 70 metres for the first time in four years. Aside from Harting, he has been the most consistent Discus thrower in the world this year.

The other field event final of the night is the men's High Jump. Ivan Ukhov has long been one of the world's best jumpers indoors, but the Russian has approached this season differently and has timed his peak for the summer.

After a 2.39m outdoor best at the Russian Championships, Ukhov goes into the final as the world leader. But host-nation hopes will be high for European champion Robbie Grabarz, while World Champion Jesse Williams is a formidable contender.

Rudisha and Felix take another step towards elusive gold

Despite being two of the biggest stars in world athletics with multiple titles and accolades to their names, the one thing missing from the CVs of both David Rudisha and Allyson Felix is an individual Olympic title.

They both breezed through their heats – Felix in the 200m and Rudisha in the 800m – and look to be the gold medal favourites. But recent events at the Games have shown that anything can happen, and the pair will be looking to book their places in the final for their events when they compete in the semi-finals tomorrow.

There will also be the second instalment of the big showdown in the men's sprints as the heats of the men's 200m begin. For the likes of Olympic 100m champion Usain Bolt and World champion Yohan Blake, the 200m heats should be a walk in the park. The real racing will begin in the semi-finals the day after, with the final due to take place on Thursday.

Liu Xiang and Idowu looks to banish Beijing demons

No athlete experienced such bitter disappointment at the Beijing Games as Liu Xiang. Competing as a gold medal hope at an Olympics on home soil, his dreams came crashing down as he hobbled out of the heats in the 110m Hurdles, clearly in no shape to defend his title from four years prior.

Back in form this year, Liu Xiang is once again a big contender and he will be hoping that his experience in the 110m Hurdles heats tomorrow will be better than in Beijing. But there have been recent reports of new injury concerns and all did not seem okay when he withdrew from the final at the recent London Diamond League.

World leader Aries Merritt and World champion Jason Richardson will be the other key contenders in action in the heats, the first track event of the morning session.

While Liu was one of the big host nation hopes of the last Games, triple jumper Phillips Idowu had been billed as a potential British success story for London 2012. But he too has had an interrupted few months leading up to the Olympics, and he will finally reveal what kind of form he is in when he competes in the qualifying round.

Having successfully defended her 10,000m title, Tirunesh Dibaba will be back on track for the heats of the 5000m. It came as no surprise that she was drafted into the Ethiopian team at the last minute, and she looks to be back to her absolute best. Vivian Cheruiyot and Meseret Defar will also line up for the 5000m heats.

Elsewhere, the qualifying takes place for the women's javelin in the morning and women's long jump in the evening.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF