Who will break the cover curse? - IAAF World Championships in Daegu

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    It has been the undoing of the likes of Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva, Dayron Robles and Steve Hooker, but who will be the next victim?

    There is one thing in Daegu that has the world’s leading athletes quaking in their boots at the IAAF World Championships. It’s not the prospect of competing in hot and humid conditions, nor is it the weight of pressure and expectation of their fans back home.

    It is whether they are selected to appear on the cover of the daily programmes.

    So far the ‘cover curse’ has taken down some of the sport’s biggest stars. World and Olympic champion Steve Hooker was the first to fall victim to the jinx after featuring on the cover of the programme for day one.

    Undefeated at major championships since March 2008, the Australian went out in qualifying after failing to clear his opening height – something that has never happened before to Hooker.

    A picture of Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt was used for the programme on day two – a sure-fire bet to win after a storming run in the heats. Or so it seemed, before he false-started in a final – the first time in his career that he has made such a blunder at a major championships.

    Next up was Dayron Robles, the world 110m hurdles record-holder. Initially it seemed as though the Olympic champion from Cuba had broken the curse, as he crossed the line first in the men’s 110m hurdles final. But moments later it was revealed that the Chinese team had lodged a protest over an obstruction to Liu Xiang during the race and Robles was disqualified. It would have been his first world title.

    Yesterday it was down to Yelena Isinbayeva, the pole vault world record-holder, to try to beat the kiss of death as an image of her featured on the programme cover. But, competing in her first major championships since sitting out last summer, the Russian finished sixth in the final. Excluding the two occasions she has no-heighted, it was Isinbayeva’s lowest finish at a major outdoor championships since her ninth-place finish at the 1998 World Junior Championships.

    Just one event, the women’s 20km walk, is being held on day five and there was only ever going to be a likely candidate for the cover. Since winning gold in Osaka four years ago, Russia’s Olga Kaniskina has won all major titles ever since and has been unbeatable at major championships. But is she strong enough to overcome the curse?

    Fans and athletes will wait with baited breath to see which athlete will be on the front of tomorrow’s programme too. Looking at the event finals taking place – men’s high jump, women’s triple jump, men’s steeplechase, women’s 1500m and men’s and women’s 400m hurdles – there is no obvious candidate.
    The likes of Yargelis Savigne, Briming Kipruto and Maryam Jamal might lose sleep tonight thinking about the cover. But please – as flattering as it is to be considered favourite – let’s hope that they overlook Dai Greene.
     

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