In Depth

Where next for athletics without Usain Bolt and Mo Farah?

The World Athletics Championships represent the end of an era, but there's plenty to look forward to

Billed as Usain Bolt's big farewell, there are plenty of other stars hoping to grab the limelight at the World Athletics Championships in London, starting with Mo Farah in the 10,000m.

Like Bolt, this is likely to be Farah's swansong at a major championship. Another medal in London, on the track where he announced his arrival as a world star in 2012, would mean a lot to the British runner, says Sean Ingle of The Guardian

"If he powers to another 10,000m gold on Friday night – and he is a prohibitive favourite to do so – he will have strung together an unprecedented ten consecutive global track distance titles," says Ingle.

"To put that achievement into context, Haile Gebrselassie won six in a row at 10,000m, while Kenenisa Bekele's run of consecutive 5,000m and 10,000m Olympic and world titles ended at four.

"What makes Farah's performances even more remarkable is that, having won his first world title in Daegu just before his 29th birthday, he has sustained that level. Even at 34 he does not appear to be losing any speed."

Farah shrugged off controversy and innuendo concerning his association with his coach, Alberto Salazar, who will not be at the games.

"Again and again he has been able to shake it all off to focus on what he does best. Winning gold medals."

If Farah and Bolt are the main attractions over the next ten days there's hope that new stars will emerge, says Ron Lewis of The Times

"As much as the sport has taken a pounding from doping and corruption in recent years, and as much as it now struggles to face a future without Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, the next ten days can shape the way that the sport will go," he says.

"The loss of David Rudisha from the 800m and Andre De Grasse from the sprints to injury is a blow, but in Wayde van Niekerk the championships has one of sport's breakout superstars," he says.

"Van Niekerk lacks Bolt's outgoing personality but he thinks big and, after an era so tarnished by dopers, he is a man you can believe in." He is aiming for gold in the 400m and 200m.

Others to watch include Mariya Lasitskene in the high jump, Thomas Rohler in the javelin and Kendra Harrison in the 100m hurdles.

Domestic stars include Laura Muir, who runs in the 1,500m, and heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Yet there is no escaping the overarching theme of the next ten days – a farewell to Bolt and the sport's future without him and a golden generation of British stars, says Riath Al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail.

"As the World Championships start in London, British Athletics and the sport in general have converged on the same thorny thought – what exactly will the next era look like?

"The answers of the next nine days will be fascinating," says Samarrai. "To some, his exit a week on Sunday is akin to a sporting doomsday. To others there is a more reasoned acceptance."

London is a sell-out for the meet, and that is "proof of the appeal of watching people run, jump and throw," as well as the legacy of 2012 Olympics.

"It will be a far harder sell without the sport's greatest ever salesman, but there's certainly no need to arrange a funeral."

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