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Previews16 Mar 2022

Williams leads fight for 60m hurdles gold in Belgrade


Danielle Williams at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland (© Getty Images)

At the age of 29, Jamaica’s 2015 world 100m hurdles champion Danielle Williams is in the form of her life indoors - which means she will take some stopping at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22.

That 2015 performance in Beijing was a breakthrough for an athlete who had missed out on a Commonwealth medal by one place the year before.

And after failing to finish her heat in the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, Williams has steadily added further lustre to her hurdles career.

In 2018 she made that Commonwealth rostrum, taking silver on the Gold Coast, and at the Doha 2019 World Championships she added a second global medal to her collection as she finished third, having earlier in the year reduced her personal best to 12.32.

Last month has clocked an indoor personal best of 7.75 that is the fastest run so far this season.

But Williams will have no false sense of security given that the event is stacked with talent. Her compatriot Britany Anderson is the second fastest entrant in terms of this year’s lists, having also run a personal best, 7.82.

Anderson, 21, perhaps has something to prove having suffered the frustration and disappointment of finishing eighth in the Tokyo Olympic final after hitting a hurdle heavily.

The Jamaican pair will be strongly challenged however by a United States contingent that will be headed by Gabriele Cunningham, who finished seventh in Tokyo and who has run an identical personal best to Anderson this summer.

Alaysha Johnson, who has also been in PB territory this season in clocking 7.90, will be another strong US contender.

France will be looking to 21-year-old Cyrena Samba-Mayela, yet another to have set a personal best in 2022 with 7.84.

Devynne Charlton of The Bahamas, who finished sixth in the Olympic final, won at last month’s World Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Torun. She has clocked 7.90 this year and has a best of 7.89.

Two other names to watch out for are Switzerland’s Ditaji Kambundji and Zoe Sedney of Netherlands.

Kambundji, the 19-year-old younger sister of world 200m bronze medallist Mujinga, went out in the heats at the Tokyo Games but has been in exuberant form this year, running a 60m hurdles personal best of 7.94.

Sedney lowered her own best to 7.95 in winning in Madrid earlier this month at the last of this season’s World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meetings.

Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics