SEARING HEAT and humidity in Doha will be among the chief obstacles facing Mark English and Brendan Boyce when they go in the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships tomorrow.
English will be in 800m heat action at around 3.15pm Irish time with Boyce’s 50k race walk underway at 9.30pm.
It will be touching midnight in the Qatar capital when Boyce sets off in his gruelling event.
The 50k race walk is one of the most unforgiving events in world sports and, even though it will be late at night when the gun goes, temperatures will still be above 30 degrees, with humidity expected at 75 per cent.
“We have a medical team who will monitor conditions all the time,” the IAAF President, Sebastien Coe, said this week. “We’ve undertaken a lot of work on heat management. We recognise that the road events are those that need to be carefully monitored. We have more medical supervision, more water available. There’s no plan to cancel.”
Boyce has already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In finishing fifth at the European Race Walking Championships in Alytus, Lithuania, in May Boyce set a new PB of 3:48:13 – shaving 42 seconds off his previous record – to book his place in Japan.
The Finn Valley AC man has set new PBs at 20k, 30k and 50k distances recently and, before going to altitude training in the Sierra Nevada mountains, said he was eyeing up the top eight in Doha.
The likes of Yohann Diniz, the 41-year-old reigning World champion, Matej Toth and Wang Qin are among those expected to be in the shake-up.
In a bid to ease the rise of the mercury on the athletes, the Khalifa International Stadium has been air conditioned.
English was a late addition to the Irish ticket for the Championships. It was only last Friday when the three-time European medalist received confirmation that he had been added via the IAAf’s ‘quota’ system.
A stacked field will see the likes of Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, Nigel Amos, Brandon McBride and Emmanuel Korir, go under starter’s orders.