Some of the top contenders at the European Junior Championships this week in Tallinn
The Estonian capital Tallinn this week plays host to the European Junior Championships.
It is the third major international age group championships in as many weeks, following the World Youth Championships earlier the month and the European Under-23 Championships last week.
Here’s a look at just some of the athletes who look set to do well this week…
Jimmy Vicaut only turned to the sport in 2009, but even though he’s been only training five days a week since then, the 19-year-old has won world junior 100m bronze, and gold in 4x100m relay at the European Championships. While he was perhaps expected to claim more than bronze last year, the Frenchman, who leads the European junior rankings with 10.20, should make amends in Tallinn.
Citing Tyson Gay as one of his inspirations, he is following closely in the footsteps of compatriot and treble European champion Christophe Lemaitre. Indeed, when he ran 10.16 at the age of 18 last year, he was one tenth of a second faster than the European No.1 was at the same age.
The Siberian-born jumper scooped Israel’s first ever world youth title in 2009 and, after honours at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Moscow and at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore last summer, Dmitriy Kroyter looks set to make an instant impression at junior level. The 18-year-old has improved his PB by six centimetres to 2.28m this year.
During the course of the indoor season, the former gymnast improved the world junior record from 4.48m to 4.62m. Although illness forced her to miss the European Team Championships, the 17-year-old seems to be regaining the form which propelled her to three Swedish indoor records and world junior gold.
Despite far from ideal conditions in Sofia earlier this year, Zigismunds Sirmais smashed his idol Andreas Thorkildsen’s world junior record and improved it to 84.69m last month. Sirmais, who trains with 2004 Olympic silver medallist Vadims Vasilevskis, leads the European junior rankings by four metres. He will be looking to make up for last year’s World Junior Championships where he finished seventh.
While Jessica Ennis is strongly touted as the Olympic gold medal favourite for the heptathlon next year, Schippers has been earmarked as another potential global multi-events champion. Not only does the Dutchwoman lead the European junior rankings with 6172, but she is also a very talented sprinter. En route to her Dutch junior heptathlon record in Gotzis, the world junior heptathlon champion sped to a national and European under-20 leading mark of 22.90 and she also holds the national junior 60m record at 7.28.
Fortunately for Britain’s most promising ever junior sprinter, Schippers is not entered for the sprints, so Jodie Williams is favourite to take a sprint double. That would replicate her achievement at the 2009 World Youth Championships. Last year, in addition to winning world junior 100m gold, she ran a UK junior record of 11.24, while her 22.79 at 200m ranks her second only to Kathy Cook in GB junior terms.
The indoor season potentially marked a changing of the guard in Russian high jumping as Mariya Kuchina beat Athens Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko in her home town of Volgograd, before setting a world indoor junior best of 1.97m just two weeks after her 18th birthday. Kuchina, who achieved the best mark by a junior since the 1980s, will renew her rivalry with Alessia Trost of Italy, to whom she lost at the World Youth Championships in 2009.
Although Anastasiya Tkachuk was only fourth in the 1000m at last year’s Youth Olympic Games, she has improved markedly since. The 18-year-old finished fourth in the Ukrainian Cup where she was dragged to a national junior record of 2:00.37, which puts her at the top of the European junior rankings by almost three seconds. Tkachuk has good quarter-mile pace too, having won the Ukrainian junior title with 54.04.
100m: David Bolarinwa, Adam Gemili, Sam Watts. 200m: Bolarinwa. 400m: Jarryd Dunn. 800m: Guy Learmonth. 1500m: Cameron Boyek, Adam Cotton, Charlie Grice. 5000m: Jonny Hay. 10,000m: Karl Billington, Paul Thompson, David Vernon. 110H: Ben Kelk, Jack Meredith, Andy Pozzi. 400H: Paul Bennett, Ben Hopkins. Pole vault: Cameron Walker-Shepherd. Long jump: James McLachlan. Javelin: Joe Dunderdale, Richard Shuttleworth. 4x100m: Bolarinwa, Gemili, Jordan Kirby-Polidore, Judah Simpson, Dannish Walker-Khan, Watts. 4x400m: George Caddick, Dunn, David Lagerberg, Greg Louden, Dominic Smith
100m: Marilyn Nwawulor, Jodie Williams. 200m: Williams. 400m: Lucy James, Katie Kirk, Kirsten McAslan. 800m: Rowena Cole. 1500m: Jennifer Walsh. 3000m: Emelia Gorecka*. 5000m: Gorecka*, Annabel Gummow. 400H: Abigayle Fitzpatrick, Megan Southwart, Sophie Wood. High jump: Emma Nuttall, Isobel Pooley. Pole vault: Katie Byres. Triple jump: Ahtollah Rose. Javelin: Izzy Jeffs, Freya Jones, Kike Oniwinde. Hammer: Abi Carter, Myra Perkins. Heptathlon: Katarina Johnson-Thompson. 4x100m: Jennie Batten, Mica Moore, Nwawulor, Annie Tagoe, Bianca Williams, Jodie Williams. 4x400m: Yimika Adewakun, Zoey Clark, Amelia Clifford, James, Kirk, McAslan.
*Gorecka will compete in either the 3000m or 5000m