How to watch Australia’s stars, and the globe’s fastest accountant, at the world athletics titles

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Budapest: The world athletics championships are about to start in Budapest, Hungary, with Australia’s team branded one of the strongest the nation has ever put together for the nine-day competition, starting on Saturday.

On form, the Australian team conservatively has eight serious medal prospects. The international athletes they will come up against include the world’s fastest accountant and a young pole-vaulting star who could become one of the greatest in history.

Defending high jump world champion Eleanor Patterson.Credit: Getty Images

Every session of the championships will be broadcast live on SBS VICELAND, with a dedicated athletics hub on SBS on Demand also streaming the action, as well as replays and highlights.

Here are the headline acts to watch as the Australian team aims for global glory, with the next Olympics in Paris less than a year away.

Peter Bol and Joe Deng, 800m
Heats from 3am Wednesday (AEST), semis 5.50am Friday, final 4.30am Sunday August 27

Finally cleared of a claim that he failed a doping test, Tokyo Olympics star Peter Bol has endured a year like no one else. Now the man who came within a whisker of a medal in Tokyo returns to the track in the 800 metres and takes on, among others, his long-term housemate Joe Deng who recently reclaimed the 800m national title from Bol. Deng is in very good form and a chance for a medal. After the turbulent year Bol has endured, expectations have to be adjusted but just seeing him out there running against the world’s best again will be worth it.

Former housemates Joe Deng (left) and Peter Bol train together in Melbourne.

Rohan Browning, 100m
Heats from 3.43am Sunday, semis 1.35am Monday, final 3.10am Monday

The 100m is the biggest, most watched race in the world, and Rohan Browning carries Australia’s hopes of making it to the semi-final and, heaven forbid, the final. Browning was superb on the biggest stage two years ago in Tokyo when at the Olympics he ran 10.01s in his heat to make the semi-finals, becoming the first Australian in 17 years to contest the 100m sprint semi. The Sydney sprinter ran tantalisingly close to breaking 10 seconds, and is now running consistently at 10.1 or lower and feels the next big career breakthrough is imminent.

American star Fred Kerley is back to not only defend his 100m title, he also wants the double and to elevate himself into the realm of the greats. To do so he has to pass, among others, Briton Zharnel Hughes who has run the quickest time in the world this year (9.83s) and Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala, who has the second-quickest time this year (9.84s). In a country famed for distance running, Omanyala is redefining athletics in Kenya.

Also look out for Britain’s Eugene Amo-Dadzie, the world’s fastest accountant. That’s right, accountant.

British sprinter Eugene Amo-Dadzie. He’s the world’s fastest accountant.Credit: Getty Images

Amo-Dadzie is the athlete who never gave athletics a serious try as he studied and began working as an accountant.

In his words, he was happy to drift, content to wonder what might have been. Then, in 2018, just before it was all too late, he gave athletics a serious go. In June, this year he ran 9.93s and at 31 he goes to his first world championships.

Eleanor Patterson and Nicola Olyslagers high jump
Qualification 6.20pm Thursday; final 4.05am Monday August 28

Eleanor Patterson enters this competition as the reigning world champion but the favourite for gold is compatriot Nicola Olyslagers, the Tokyo Olympics silver medallist who has been taking all before her this year.

Nicola Olyslagers in the Olympic high jump event, where she won silver.Credit: AP

She is regularly breaking two metres and is the clear favourite.

Patterson won her world title last year while managing pain in her foot that required surgery earlier this year, interrupting her preparation for Budapest. But she says she is in shape to defend her title.

Jessica Hull, 1500m
Heats 9.15pm Saturday, semi-final 1am Monday, final 5.30am Wednesday

Jessica Hull leads the Australian team of middle-distance runners who are now mixing it with the world’s elite. No longer intimidated by Kenyan and Ethiopian dominance in the 1500m, Hull knows she can go with the best. Hull recently broke the national record when she came third in a race where Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the world record. Only Hull and Briton Laura Muir were able to go with Kipyegon. Right until the final lap, Hull was sitting on Kipyegon but could not hang on. The Australian is a strong chance to be in the medal mix in one of the most eagerly awaited races at the championships.

Nina Kennedy had a strong result in Florence at the Diamond League meet.Credit: AP

Nina Kennedy, pole vault
Qualification 2.40am Tuesday, final 3.30am Thursday

OK, pause for a minute and take this in. In the last year, pole vaulter Nina Kennedy won the prestigious Diamond League, which came weeks after she won Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham, which in turn came two weeks after taking bronze at the COVID-delayed world championships in Oregon. All in the one year. She is fourth in the world rankings this year and a favourite to – at worst – be on the dais again at the championships, while at best she can win gold.

Kurtis Marschall celebrates winning the gold medal in the pole vault final at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Credit: Getty Images

Kurtis Marschall, pole vault
Qualification 6.15pm Wednesday, final 3.25am Sunday August 27

You might not have heard much of Kurtis Marschall, but you will. He has had a big year after winning Commonwealth gold in Birmingham and is a dark horse for a place on the podium.

Get excited for him, but don’t get ahead of yourself unless Sweden’s world champion Mondo Duplantis misses the mat or snaps a pole – then pencil him in again for gold. Duplantis is the current world indoor and outdoor record holder and the reigning Olympic and world indoor and outdoor champion. And he’s only 23. Watch him, as he might be on the way to becoming one of the greatest athletes we have ever seen.

In between Duplantis’ jumps, keep an eye on Marschall because the Australian has the fourth-best jump in the world this year (5.95 metres) and is poised to clear six metres for the first time.

Stewart McSweyn, 1500m
Heats 3.02am Sunday, semi 1.30am Monday, final 5.15am Thursday

The “King Island Flier” has been threatening for several years but at each major championships injury or illness has worked against him. With national record holder Ollie Hoare out injured from these championships, McSweyn is carrying Australian hopes in the 1500m.

Cedric Dubler urging Ash Moloney on in Tokyo as Moloney went on to win bronze.Credit: Getty

Ash Moloney and Cedric Dubler, decathlon
Events start 6.05pm Friday August 25, with the final event at 5.25am Sunday August 27

This pair had the iconic moment of the Tokyo Olympics when Dubler, well out of contention for medals, committed in his final event to willing Moloney along to hang on for an historic first decathlon medal for Australia. Moloney had done the work himself, of course, to be in that bronze medal position but the imagery of Dubler screaming for his teammate was a wonderful moment.

Barber won Commonwealth gold just a week after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.Credit: Getty

Moloney is a prodigious talent. It’s hard to get a form line on decathletes because the event is so physically taxing that they do so few each year, so his form going into Budapest is difficult to assess. When he won bronze in Tokyo he did so managing a grumbly knee, but he now says the knee is feeling better than it did then, and he is fit and in good shape.

Kelsey-Lee Barber, javelin
Qualification from 6.20pm Wednesday, final 4.20am Saturday August 26

Barber could become one of Australia’s most successful athletes of all time at these world championships. That is not an overstatement.

Barber is aiming to become the first person to win three successive javelin world championship titles. The winner of the last two, she is eager to claim a place as one of the greats of her sport.

If history isn’t enough to draw you in, then the manner of Barber’s performances are reason to watch her. Barber is one of the best clutch performers Australia has ever produced. Three times at a major championship she has won a medal with her last throw of the javelin, and twice it was to win gold. So she knows not only how to perform to win, but how to entertain and create drama.

Matt Denny, discus
Qualification from 3.09am Sunday, final 4.30am Tuesday

Discus is not a headline-grabbing sport, but when big men throw plates then Australia’s Matt Denny throws them as well as nearly anyone. He won gold in the discus at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year and has been in the top eight once at the Olympics and twice at the world championships. He has been consistently in the mix for several years and is ranked seven in the world.

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