The 19th World Athletics Championships, due to take place in Budapest from August 19 to 27 in the 35,000-capacity National Athletics Centre, newly built on the banks of the River Danube, will be unique.

It is due to take place just a year after the last edition in Oregon - a circumstance brought about by shifts required in the world sports calendar because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games to 2021 played its part in this novel arrangement, which will be book-ended next year by the Paris 2024 Olympics. Four straight years of top-class global athletics competition.

And it means that Budapest, and the watching world, is about to witness the re-playing of pressing rivalries from the 2022 World Championships at another newbuild, Hayward Field in Eugene.

So close is the gap that it feels like a boxing re-match, or the second leg of a big football match.

While form can vary, and injuries can strike, we are close enough to the Championships now to look forward with relish to a series of contests involving athletes of the highest calibre where the result is genuinely in doubt. All the elements needed for compulsive viewing.

Ten Super Showdowns

So here - with fingers crossed - are ten Super Showdowns looming up in the Hungarian capital. Don't blink or you'll miss something marvellous…

Women's 800 metres – Keely Hodgkinson (GB) v Athing Mu (US)

Two 21-year-olds at the top of the event. Two years ago in Tokyo Mu beat the Briton to Olympic gold by half a second. Last year in Oregon she did it again - but this time by just 0.08sec. 

Keely Hodgkinson @Getty Images
Keely Hodgkinson @Getty Images
Athing Mu @Getty Images
Athing Mu @Getty Images

Women's 400m hurdles – Femke Bol (Ned) v Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone (US)

At the Tokyo Olympics Bol took bronze as her American rival bettered her own world record to win gold. Last year at the Worlds, the Dutch runner took silver, although was almost half the straight adrift as McLaughlin-Levrone reduced the world mark for a fourth time to an unearthly 50.68sec. But Bol has been working on her own speed this year, having broken the world indoor 400m record.

Men’s 400m hurdles – Karsten Warholm (Nor) v Rai Benjamin (US)

Brazil's current world champion Alison Dos Santos is out with injury, but Norway's Olympic champion and world record holder Warholm, whose season last year was undermined by a hamstring injury, is back to full fitness. Meanwhile Benjamin, the second fastest man in history, is after gold, having finished second to Warholm at the Olympics and in the last two World Championships.

Women's 100m – Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jam) v Elaine Thompson-Herah (Jam) v Shericka Jackson (Jam)

Dizzying Jamaican performances are in prospect once again in the women's 100m. At 36, Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, will defend her title. Her compatriots Thompson-Herah, the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion, and Jackson, the world 200m champion, will be eager to take it from her.

Men's 1500m - Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Nor) v Jake Wightman (GB)

Norway's 22-year-old Olympic champion finally got a world gold last year - but only in the 5,000 metres, as Britain's Jake Wightman earned an audacious victory over him in Oregon. Ingebrigtsen is fit again after early season illness. Game on.

Men's 100m - Fred Kerley (US) v Marcell Jacobs (Ita)

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Jacobs, the ex-long jumper and surprise package, beat Kerley, the ex-400m runner, to gold, 9.80 to 9.84sec. In Oregon, with the Italian absent injured, Kerley was the victor. Jacobs earned European indoor silver over 60m in March, despite a hamstring niggle. But he has time to recover.

Men's 200m - Noah Lyles (US) v Erriyon Knighton (US)

At 19, Knighton is a stupendous rising talent who has shattered Usain Bolt's under-20 record and clocked 19.49, albeit unratified, to make himself the fifth fastest man in history. Last year he won bronze at the Worlds. But Lyles, 25, is at the peak of his powers, setting a US record of 19.31 to win the world title in Oregon. Now he believes he is even faster. 

Men’s 10,000m – Joshua Cheptegei (Uga) v Jacob Kiplimo (Uga)

Will the pupil overtake the master? Cheptegei, 26, is the world record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000m, and won world 10,000m titles either side of taking Tokyo 2020 gold at that distance. Kiplimo, now 22, earned bronze behind him in Tokyo and Oregon. And he beat him to the 10km title at the World Cross Country Championships.

Men’s High Jump – Mutaz Barshim (Qat) v Gianmarco Tamberi (Ita)

These friends and rivals will be eternally linked after deciding to share the Olympic title at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Last year Barshim retained the world title, with Tamberi fourth. What will happen this year?

Mutaz Barshim @ Getty Images
Mutaz Barshim @ Getty Images
Gianmarco Tamberi @ Getty Images
Gianmarco Tamberi @ Getty Images

Women's discus – Sandra Perkovic (Cro) v Valarie Allman (US)

At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Allman won the title, with Perkovic, the London 2012 and Rio 2016 winner, finishing just outside the medals. Last year, however, the Croatian, now 32, took silver in Oregon ahead of Allman before adding a record sixth European title.

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Budapest, the Sports Capital

Budapest is a favourite location in international sports and tourism due to its historical heritage, state-of-the-art infrastructure and stability.

After organising numerous world-level sporting competitions, the country has put itself on the map as a host for major international sport events.

In 2022 alone, Hungary hosted among others the World Aquatics Championships, the European Men's Handball Championships, the Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia and the European Wrestling Championships.

In the space of the last few years Budapest has become, indisputably, a global sports capital.

Throughout the 125-year history of Hungarian athletics, the country and Budapest have hosted all kinds of competitions, including a highly successful European Athletics Championships in 1998. But this staging of an outdoor World Athletics Championships will be a first.

The Hungarian capital has all the features and capabilities to host the event: its geographical location, its beauty, its economic development, the hospitability of the people living there, its vivid cultural life, its strong services sector and above all the safety of the city.

Situated in the very heart of Europe, it is easily accessible from anywhere. All this is complemented by the outstanding results of Hungarian sports, the Hungarian people's love of sports and the fact that Budapest is always a good host.

The vision of the organisers is clear: they want to present the best possible stage for the World Athletics Championships and a brand new venue makes the pinnacle event of athletics all the more exciting. The new state-of-the-art National Athletics Centre in Budapest will fit all the requirements of a modern sport facility.

Budapest, providing the perfect backdrop for this amazing showcase, will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2023. 

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Budapest landmarks

One of Europe's most photogenic capitals has become such a top tourist destination that in 2019 it won the prestigious title of "European Best Destination".

The city offers its visitors a multitude of marvellous sites, with superb views on the Pest or Buda side of the city - from the bridges connecting them over the River Danube.

Castle District

The UNESCO World Heritage Castle District of Budapest is full of important sites. The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya), the Church of Matthias (Mátyás-templom) and the Buda Castle are the most obvious examples, but even if you get lost in this neighbourhood rich in story, you will make interesting personal discoveries in every corner while strolling on the cobbled courtyards.

Buda Castle is a major landmark in the Hungarian capital ©Getty Images
Buda Castle is a major landmark in the Hungarian capital ©Getty Images

A walk through the castle is an instant history lesson, while the Fisherman's Bastion, built in Neo-Romanesque style between 1895 and 1902 on the base of a stretch of the Buda Castle walls, and with seven stone towers representing the seven Hungarian chieftains who founded the country in 895, the stuff of fantasy.

Parliament Building

There are no lists of spectacular Parliament buildings that do not feature the Hungarian version. With 691 rooms,19 kilometres of corridors and stairs, a 97 metres-high dome and stunning gargoyles, the Danube-side icon dominates the Pest side of the river. Whether you take a guided tour or see it from a boat, the Parliament is always worth a visit.

St. Stephen's Basilica

Budapest's highest and most photographed attraction awaits visitors not only with fantastic frescoes, but also with the mummified right hand of King St. Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state. The panorama from the dome is not to be missed and it is also worth listening to an organ concert.

Spa Culture

Due to Hungary's exceptional thermal water resources, spa culture here dates back two thousand years to Roman times. It was later enriched by the Turks in the 1500s and 1600s. With over 100 natural springs in the city, no other capital in the world has this many thermal baths. It's worth exploring as some of them have the atmosphere of a museum, such as the Széchenyi, which gives the impression of a Monarchy-style palace, or the Turkish-era Rudas.


Budapest gastronomy is not just about goulash. Beside discovering the traditional flavours, it's worth visiting one of Budapest's elegant historic cafés, the great market hall, a new wave bistro or even try a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant.

For a special night out, visit the city's famous ruin pubs, which opened their doors in abandoned buildings to attract a large number of young people who enjoy drinking either in a split Trabant or in grandma's old chair. If the panorama counts, don’t miss a rooftop bar with a glass of top-quality Hungarian wine and enjoy the stunning sunset.

Heroes' Square and City Park

At the end of Andrássy út is the largest square in Budapest where all of Hungarian history can be found. Statues of kings, heroes and legends stand proudly in the square, which exudes a special atmosphere day and night. From here, hikers can go on a picnic in the City Park, one of the largest green areas in the city, while art lovers can visit several fantastic museums nearby, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Kunsthalle, the Museum of Ethnography or the House of Hungarian Music.

Heroes' Square in Budapest is a great source of history ©Getty Images
Heroes' Square in Budapest is a great source of history ©Getty Images

Margaret Island

The green heart of the city lies in the middle of the Danube between the Margaret Bridge and the Árpád Bridge. Everything on the island is about relaxation, from the popular Palatinus Beach and the Alfred Hajós Swimming Pool to the Japanese Garden and the musical fountain.

Featuring a rubberised jogging track nearly 5km long, pedalo rental and cycle paths, not to mention any number of picnic places and outdoor bars, Margaret Island has something for everyone.

Gellért Hill and Citadel

The Gellért Hill is located 235 metres above sea level on the right bank of the Danube. It is one of the most popular spots in the city because of its exceptional panorama. Located on the top of the hill is the former fortress, the Citadel and the 14-metre-high statue of Liberty standing on its south-eastern bastion. The statue is visible from almost every corner of the city, so it is not surprising that it has become one of Budapest's main symbols over the years.