Athletics

Top take-aways from the world U20 athletics championships

Emerging start catching the eye in Tampere

The World U20 championships have proved over the years to be the perfect launching pad for the up-and-coming talent of athletics.

The 2018 championships in Tampere produced new stars from India to Indonesia.

Here are seven of that golden generation who are now looking ahead to a bright future.

Briana's star is born

Brilliant Briana! Two sprint golds, in two days, at only 16 years young - Briana Williams left her mark at these championships in Finland.

The Jamaican, who was the youngest 100m entrant in the championships, remarkably controlled the race from the blocks to the finish winning in 11.16 seconds.

She secured a sprint double again in dominant style, clocking a championship record of 22.50 in the 200m.

Williams is now the fourth woman after compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown in 2000, Bulgaria’s Tezdzhan Naimova in 2006, and Anthonique Strachan of the Bahamas in 2012, to achieve the double at the world youth championships.

An unforgettable event for Williams who even got the attention of the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt.

Remember Bolt himself won the 2002 world juniors.

India's Golden Run

Hima Das was one of the breakout stars at the worlds. Just 18 months after her first competitive race, the girl from the Indian Northeast rice fields, captured the attention of billions back home and around the world, with her dominating 51.46 run in the 400m.

A win that made her the first Indian to win a global track title.

India’s new hero had a slow start and trailed in the home stretch, but it didn’t bother the 18-year-old or her coach Nipon Das, who knew her “biggest strength is the last 100m.”

A remarkable achievement after her fifth place in the 200m at the 2017 U18 worlds in Nairobi, and the sixth-place finish at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

This should be just the start for Das, who promises to “bring more medals and to do more achievements for my country.”

Her target is now to improve her personal best to 49 seconds, keeping the dream alive of another Indian medal at an international track event.

Indonesia's hero who trained barefoot

Another first at the Ratina Stadium was Lalu Muhammad Zohri’s astonishing gold in the 100m.

The Indonesian orphan, who could not even afford a pair of training shoes and regularly practiced barefoot, stunned the pre-race favourites by sprinting to victory in 10.18 seconds.

“I didn’t realise the reaction, but this is amazing. Now I am crafting history and I’m very proud,” he said after beating USA’s Anthony Schwartz and Eric Harrison into second and third respectively.

Something of a rags to riches story for the rising star from the Island of Lombok.

Zohri has grown up in a house made of wood and bamboo, but that could change.

His triumph has caught the attention of Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, who ordered his cabinet minister to ensure their hero’s home is renovated.

The young sprint champ has been working with Harry Marra, the American coach who trained combined event stars Ashton Eaton, the two-time Olympic champion, and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Brianne Theisen-Eaton.

And more glory could await the 18-year-old as his nation hosts the Asian Games, yet another moment to showcase his country’s track potential.

Steeplechaser helps Kenya top medal haul

Celliphine Chespol was the first athlete to defend her U20 title at worlds with her 3000m steeplechase gold for the championships table toppers Kenya.

Her solo race with three laps to go, earned Chespol her second title after 2016 in Bydgoszcz.

The talented steeplechaser who is also the U18 world champion earned the gold in 9:12.78, continuing Kenya’s steeplechase domination.

With six gold medals, Kenya finished with the highest number of golds at Tampere 2018.

Duplantis gets high

His win was never really in doubt. Armand Duplantis exuded class and confidence even before he vaulted.

The Swede watched as the field went over the bar and joined the competition when the height was at 5.50m.

His first attempt put him joint-top with Germany’s Bo Kanda Lita Baehre and USA’s Zachery Bradford.

But shortly after it was only Duplantis against the bar.

He was the only one who went past 5.60m.

The world junior record holder was all clear at 5.82m and wound up his championship after three unsuccessful tries at 6.01m.

Diaz the King

Cuba’s Jordan Diaz was equally dominant.

He earned a second world title in two years by jumping 17.15m in round three.

The 17-year-old who took gold in the U18 in Nairobi last year, now wants to scale up to the seniors and continue his country’s reign in the horizontal jumps.

​“I’m just young and I can improve but I think I’m ready to compete with the seniors,” - Jordan Diaz

Historic race for paralympian

Jaryd Clifford made history as the first Paralympian to compete at the World U20 Championships.

Clifford, who is legally blind, did not let this hold him back. He raced to eighth out of a field of 12 in the 1500m heats, unaided.

It was only after an official handed the Australian his white cane that most people in the stadium noticed Clifford, who was born with a degenerative eye condition.

The 2017 World Para athletics bronze medallist and Rio 2016 Paralympian had a taste of able-bodied competition in style.

That daring was part of his build up for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, where he plans to double in the 1500m and 5000m.

“I did my first guided 5000m on the track before coming here and when I do that, I don’t have to worry about running into things,” Clifford who competed at Rio 2016.

I don’t have to stress about things most runners take for granted. It’s definitely the future for me so then I can rest my eyes and I don’t get the extra fatigue.”