This is our 37th day of previews of the 2023 World Outdoor Athletics Championships, in Budapest, Hungary, from August 19-27, 2023. I found my hotel today, which costs 1/3 of the price that we were charged in Eugene, Oregon, last year! Great airfares to Budapest (Lufthansa, Swiss Air, TAP, Air Baltic all good). You need to be there!
We have eight more days of previews in our 45-day preview series of Budapest sponsored by the LOC in Budapest!
Tonight, I am writing about five athletes from Asia who should be on the podiums in Budapest!
Gong Liljao,China, Shot Put. The Chinese shot put superstar is on the way back to fitness (she has thrown 19.66m so far this season). In her fifth competition in 2023, Gong threw 19.66 meters. Gong LiJao won World Champs in 2017 and 2019 and then won gold in Tokyo 2021. Chase Ealey shook it up in Eugene with the Americans taking the gold. Never underestimate Gond Liljao; know that since last August, this Chinese athlete has focused on one thing, getting back to the top of the podium. I love rivalries!
LiJao Gong wins her first gold, London 2017 WC, photo by Mike Deering/TheShoe Addicts.
Wang Jianan, China, Long Jump. The Chinese long jumper surprised everyone with his come-from-behind, last-round jump at 8.36 meters in Eugene. He surprised the heck out of Greece’s Miltiadis Tentaglou, who had been leading up until Wang’s jump. Mitlitadis had leaped 8.32m, but the Greek long jump superstar could not respond. What will Wang Jianan do in Budapest? I truly pick this Long Jumper to be on the podium.
Wang Jianan, photo courtesy of IAAF/ Getty Images
Woo Sang-hyeok,South Korea. High Jump. So, back in 2019, I went to all of the WA Winter Indoor Series. In Dusseldorf, i was transfixed with the high jump. Woo Sang-hyeok was really impressive, and the German crowd of 5000 was transfixed. Woo won the World Youth Games in 2013 in Donetsk, Ukraine, and bronze in the 2014 WA Junior Champs in Eugene. Woo took 4th in the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and 7th in the Doha WCA 2019. In 2022, Woo Sang-hyeok won the 2022 World Indoor Champs gold in Belgrade, Serbia, and, then, in Eugene, took the silver medal in the World Champs high jump in 2022. What will the South Koren high jumper do in 2023?
Woo Sang-hyeok, photo courtesy of PUMA
Haruka Kitaguchi, Japan, Javelin. In Eugene last summer, Haruka Kitaguchi made history. She became the first Japanese athlete to medal in the Worlds or Olympics in the women’s javelin. The last Japanese athlete to medal in a World Champs, Yukifumi Murikami won the bronze in the 2009 WC in Berlin men’s javelin. Kitaguchi is the Japanese record holder in the javelin (66.00 meters, 2019). What will Haruka do in 2023? She should be inspired by her medal from last year.
Haruka Kitaguchi, photo courtesy of JAAF
Mutaz Essa Barshim, Qatar, High Jump. Mutaz has won World Champs gold in 2017, 2019, and 2022. At the Olympics, Mutaz took silver in London 2012 and Rio 2016. Mutaz Essa Barshim tied with Gianmarco Tambieri of Italy in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Barshim has had a slow start in 2023, but do not despair; the pride of Qatar and one of the most entertaining athletes in the sport will be ready for Budapest!
Mutaz Essa Barshim, August 2022, photo courtesy of PUMA AG.
To read all of our earlier stories in Witness the Wonder, numbers 1-36: