We identify some athletes well worth keeping an eye out for at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk
Usain Bolt, Yelena Isinbayeva, Allyson Felix and Sally Pearson are among the athletes who have seen victory at the IAAF World Youth Championships as a springboard to senior glory.
The world’s top under-18 athletes will be in action in Donetsk, Ukraine from July 10-14 in the hope of using the 2013 edition of the event as a similarly successful stepping stone for the future.
As it’s the eighth edition of the World Youth Champs, here’s a preview including eight athletes to look out for across the five days of action.
Multi-eventing in Britain looks in safe hands after Jessica Ennis hangs up her spikes. Not only is Katarina Johnson-Thompson tipped for great things, Morgan Lake (pictured) is also showing huge promise at age-group level. The 16-year-old makes her debut in a British vest in Donetsk and she lines up holding the world youth leading mark of 5725 with the aim of scoring something over the 5800 mark.
Lake’s banker over the two-day competition is the high jump and she would have been a title aspirant had she opted for the individual event as she’s ranked second in the world youth rankings with a 1.85m PB.
Donetsk will provide us with our first look at the outstandingly talented Swedish sprinter who stood out during the indoor season. Lining up alongside two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Irene Ekelund showed unflinching composure by finishing fourth in her first major international race at the XL-Galan in Stockholm in 7.34 which broke the 39-year-old Swedish junior record belonging to Linda Haglund.
She also posted a 23.15 200m performance indoors which was the fastest time by a European youth since 1990 and both performances came just one month short of her sixteenth birthday. Ekelund is ranked a narrow second over 100m and 200m in the 2013 world youth outdoor rankings but her international experience and proven coolness in those races could play to her advantage.
Anita Hinriksdóttir’s loping stride might not be entirely orthodox but regardless of aesthetic concerns, the Icelander is a raw talent who has set national age-group and senior records at distances ranging from the 400m to the 2000m steeplechase. The 800m is where she really excels and she’s continued to build on her eye-catching 2012 season where she finished fourth at the World Junior Championships at the age of 16.
She recently lowered her PB to 2:00.49 to move to fifth on the European all-time youth rankings and with Mary Cain absent, Hinriksdóttir starts as one of the hottest favourites of the entire championships.
Event: 2000m steeplechase
A quick glance through the start-lists and you would assume Daisy Jepkemei would start as the favourite as she won the world junior 3000m steeplechase title last year at the age of 15. However, Jepkemei has been usurped as the leading Kenyan youngster by Roseline Chepngetich, who defeated Jepkemei by a consequential 15-seconds at the Kenyan Trials. Her winning time in her first ever 2000m steeplechase race in Nairobi of 6:12.0 is the third fastest ever by a youth and she can surely challenge the world youth record of 6:11.83 at sea-level.
Event: Shot put (3kg)
Very few, if any, athletes in Donetsk boast as much international experience as Emel Dereli. She first represented her country on home-soil at the World Indoor Championships last year and while she didn’t get through qualifying then, her participation at the European Team Championships in Gateshead proved a much more fruitful experience for the 17-year-old as she finished third with 17.50m and a mere 17cm short of her national junior record.
In Donetsk, Dereli will be throwing with the 3kg implement and her PB of 19.99m puts her almost one metre clear of second-ranked Alena Bugakova at 19.17m and more than two metres clear of the third-ranked performer on the 2013 world youth rankings.
Events: Discus/hammer (1.5/5kg implements)
Specialising in the shot put and discus isn’t unheard of but attempting a discus/hammer double at a major championships is a rarity. Matthew Denny, who is also the Australian youth shot put champion, holds the world’s two best marks in the discus with the youth implement and the 17-year-old is just one of two athletes to surpass 80m for the hammer in the youth category.
His coach reckons the discus is the event where he can really excel as a senior but as for now, Denny has his sights set on securing a pair of medals at his first major international championships.
Event: Long jump
The female long jumpers have been perennial fixtures on the medal rostrum at major championships for at least the past decade but the Russian men are also beginning to establish themselves as a force in long jumping. Behind world ranked No.1 Aleksandr Menkov and European and world junior champion Sergey Morgunov, the Russians have a third very talented jumper in 1.92m-tall Anatoliy Ryapolov, who hails from the city of Armavir situated about 600km south of Volgograd.
The 16-year-old achieved one of the best jumps of all-time by an under-17 of 7.90m at the Russian Youth Championships and his chances of claiming the title are enhanced in the absence of the world youth leader Wang Jianan from China.
Event: 110m hurdles (91.4cm barriers)
Following on from Yordan O’Farrill’s success at the World Junior Championships last year, another unlikely-named Cuban in Roger V. Iribarne is destined for success in the same event in Donetsk. Iribarne is ranked second to O’Farrill on the Cuban all-time youth rankings with 13.33 and he holds four of the six fastest times in this age-group category in 2013.