Keely Hodgkinson at the 2023 European Indoor ChampionshipsErik van Leeuwen (Wikimedia, used under CC BY-SA 4.0)

Stuck for something to watch during the long summer vacation? For nine days, 19–27 August, immerse yourself in the competition of the world’s fastest.

The World Athletics Championships takes place every two years (despite a Covid-19 induced mar to the schedule resulting in the 2021 championships taking place in 2022) with this year’s being held in Budapest. The World Championships showcase the best athletes in every discipline across a whopping 49 track and field events – 24 each for men and women plus a mixed 4x400m relay – over the course of nine days of sport, meaning there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Given that they were last contested only a year ago, these championships will be especially interesting as athletes will already be seeking to renew their titles or challenge their opponents, rather than having another year to work and improve as usual. For some, like Team GB’s Jake Wightman, this means missing out on the chance to retain titles in order to fully recover from injury. For others, it provides an exciting chance to head into next year’s Olympic Games as world champion. These championships are set to act as a dress rehearsal for the Olympics, giving coaches, athletes, and commentators an idea of who is likely to shine in Paris 2024.

Ones to watch

There are many athletes who promise to be a thrilling watch, from Sweden’s record-breaking pole-vaulter Armand Duplantis to Dutch hurdler Femke Bol, but there are also several athletes closer to home to watch out for.

Fresh from winning the Irish Championships in July, Louise Shanahan, who is studying for a PhD at Trinity College, will be heading to Budapest to run in the women’s 800m. Shanahan previously held the Irish record for the event and is the current national champion, also making it to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and finishing in the top eight at last year’s European Championships in Munich. Her form this year has been excellent, so we are all excited to see how she competes in a few days’ time.

The women’s 800m is set to be one of the most competitive and exciting events of the championship, with one of Team GB’s greatest hopes, 21-year-old Keely Hodgkinson, also competing in the event. Hodgkinson comes to Budapest on excellent form as the British record holder, after setting a time of 1:55.77 in Paris earlier this summer, and will be seeking to improve on her second-place finish from last year. Her greatest rival is Team USA’s Athing Mu, the national record holder and both Olympic and world champion (2022), who has consistently left Hodgkinson in second place. However, despite her excellent record, Mu’s season’s best this year is nearly three seconds slower than Hodgkinson’s at 1:58.73, so perhaps this race could be Hodgkinson's shot at victory. Watch the culmination of their rivalry on the evening of Sunday 27th.


Mountain View

Varsity’s guide to the women’s World Cup

Team GB is sending 51 athletes to Budapest – a controversially low figure compared to last year’s 77 – with only one men’s field athlete (discus thrower Lawrence Okoye) competing. However, the women’s side remains full on both track and field, with favourites like Dina Asher-Smith and Laura Muir aiming for podiums on the track, and hopefuls Jazmin Sawyers and Morgan Lake also in the field. Long jumper Sawyers has had a season of mixed form, from winning the European Indoor Championships in Turkey earlier this year to placing between 6th and 11th in several Diamond League meets. However, her most recent jump landed her (literally) into fourth place at the London Diamond League and sets her up nicely for Budapest. The women’s long jump final is not to be missed and will take place at 16.55 local time on Sunday 20th.

On the men’s side, the athlete to watch is surely Zharnel Hughes, Team GB’s top sprinter who recently broke both Linford Christie’s 30-year-long national record over 100m and John Regis’s similarly long standing 200m record, leaving him in an excellent position to compete against US hopeful Noah Lyles and Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo in both disciplines. Catch the men’s 100m final on Sunday 20th at 19.10 local time and the 200m on Friday 25th at 21.50.

The championships are set to be a spectacle of sporting achievement and will be well worth indulging in. Coverage will be available both live on the BBC and on BBC iPlayer, and you can see the full schedule here.