Steven Mills looks at some of the rising stars of the world athletics scene to watch out for this year
The 400m was arguably the most competitive event in Beijing but world junior champion Machel Cedenio navigated his way through to the final while many recent global medallists fell in the rounds.
Less than a fortnight before turning 20, Cedenio capped his campaign by anchoring Trinidad & Tobago to silver in the 4x400m.
Similarly to the Brits, the Germans are also enjoying a resurgence in the women’s sprints. Luckenkemper ran 11.25 for 100m – the fastest time by a German junior since 1991 – before winning the European junior 200m title in a slightly wind-assisted 22.41.
She also helped the Germans to a fifth-place finish in the sprint relay in Beijing.
ABDUL HAKIM SANI BROWN
The wonderfully named Japanese athlete claimed a sprint double at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali last year. His winning time in the 200m of 20.34 broke a certain Usain Bolt’s championship record and what’s more, the 16-year-old’s high school athletics team doesn’t have its own track.
His goal is to make an Olympic final in Rio but Tokyo 2020 will be the big one for Sani Brown.
The Norwegian was one of the unsung heroes of the European Junior Championships where the 19-year-old won silver medals in the decathlon and 400m in spite of the overlapping schedule.
The multi-talented teenager could one day follow Dafne Schippers’ lead and focus solely on the track but for now, Warholm is focused on the decathlon.
You might remember Biwott pipping a prematurely-celebrating Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi over 800m in Shanghai in 2014 and the 19-year-old has made big strides since then.
The Kericho-based runner set PBs of 1:43.56 for 800m and 3:30.10 for 1500m to suggest he could become the next great Kenyan middle-distance discovery.
“She is good at everything which is longer than two minutes,” said her coach Ivo Pitak. Drahotova is an international-standard runner, cyclist, triathlete and skier but the Czech excels in the race walk.
Her best time for the 20km stands at 1:26:53 and her chances in Rio will be heightened if the dominant Russians are still barred from competing.
The Polish thrower has been breaking age-group shot put records for fun over the last two seasons. Nerves might have been a factor at the IAAF World Championships where he fouled out in qualifying but the 18-year-old smashed the world junior record in his following competition with 20.78m.
For context, the best throw by a British senior this year was two metres below the prodigious Bukowiecki’s record-breaking effort.
SALWA EID NASER
A few sceptical onlookers took the times set in Cali, Colombia, last summer with a pinch of salt but the world youth 400m champion proved she was just as fast – if not faster – at sea-level.
Born to a Nigerian mother and Bahraini father, Naser closed her breakout year by winning the World Military Games title against senior competition in 51.39 aged 17.
Despite improving her lifetime best to 62.31m, Vita only finished the year ranked sixth domestically in the discus. But aged 19, the German has a lot of upside and will challenge for a place on the team for Rio de Janeiro.
With a European junior title and the 12 longest throws in the world to her credit, Vita was one of the standout juniors in 2015.
The fact that Lake could win a European junior title and qualify for the IAAF World Championships in an event which is not her primary focus is a telling indictment of her potential.
Only 18, Lake has set her sights on qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games heptathlon but the road to Rio could pass through Bydgoszcz where the Brit has two world junior titles to defend.