WORLD U18 CHAMPS
LAST-EVER EDITION OF THE IAAF WORLD UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS IN KENYA PROVES A WELL-ATTENDED AND EXCITING EVENT TO REMEMBER
Big crowds turn out in Nairobi to see some of the best youth athletes on the planet compete
COUNTRIES such as the United States and
Great Britain who did not send teams to the IAAF World Under-18 Championships in Nairobi might have been rueing the decision after crowds of 50,000-60,000 in the stadium created a great atmosphere. Even the IAAF described it as arguably the best edition of the championships in history.
The event began in 1999 and used to be known as the World Youth Championships. It has proved a springboard in the past for athletes such as Usain Bolt, Valerie Adams and Allyson Felix, among others.
However, a number of major nations chose not send athletes to this month’s event for various reasons. There will be no chance to compete in it in future, either, after the IAAF decided last year that the 2017 event would be the final edition.
The athletes who were in Nairobi, though, look to have had a terrific time in a stadium buzzing with atmosphere.
Some will undoubtedly go on to become Olympic medallists, while many will also disappear or struggle to break through into senior ranks. All of them, though, will have great memories of Nairobi for the rest of their lives.
Highlights from the championships included a world under-18 best in the men’s triple jump from Cuba’s Jordan Diaz with 17.30m.
Diaz improved his own PB by 64cm and beat the mark set by his compatriot Lazaro Martinez in 2014 by 6cm.
Cuba enjoyed a good championships with success elsewhere. In the men’s long
jump, for example, Cubans Maikel Vidal and Lester Lescay placed one-two with Vidal winning with 7.88m.
Yaroslava Mahuchikh of Ukraine was also one of the most impressive athletes of the five-day meeting as she equalled the championships record in the women’s high jump with 1.92m.
In the men’s high jump, Breyton Poole was one of the smallest competitors but the South African took gold with 2.24m.
In the 100m hurdles, Brittany Anderson of Jamaica clocked the fastest-ever time by an under-18 woman of 12.72 – albeit assisted by an illegal tailwind of 4.1m/sec – as she beat Cyrena Samba-Mayela of France by eight hundredths of a second.
The men’s 110m hurdles was also fast, with De’Jour Russell of Jamaica setting a championships record of 13.04.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, Zazini Sokwakhana of South Africa won by almost three seconds with 49.27.
The partisan Kenyan crowd had plenty to cheer when Jackline Wambui and Lydia Jeruto Lagat made it a Kenyan one-two in the 800m, with Wambui running 2:01.46.
“I feel great after the race,” the winner told the IAAF. “Coming into the final, I was thinking of nothing but a win.”
The men’s 2000m steeplechase saw another Kenyan one-two from Leonard Kipkemoi Bett and Cleophas Kandie Meyan, with Bett running 5:32.52.
There was a similar Kenyan one-two in the women’s 2000m steeplechase with Caren Chebet clocking 6:24.80 to beat Mercy Chepkurui.
Kenya also struck gold in the men’s 1500m from George Manangoi with 3:47.53.
Kenyans did not have it all their own way, though. In the 3000m, Selemon Barega struck gold for Ethiopia with 7:47.16.
Barega’s gold added to the Ethiopian victories in the men’s 800m from Melese Nberet with 1:47.12, women’s 1500m thanks to Lemlem Hailu in 4:20.80 and women’s 3000m courtesy of Abersh Minsewo in 9:24.62.
In the sprints, Tshenolo Lemao won the men’s 100m from fellow South African Retshidisitswe Mlenga, while in the 200m final the order was reversed as Mlenga took gold in 21.03.
In the women’s 200m, meanwhile, Talea Prepens of Germany took gold with 23.51. Only 15, Prepens won Germany’s first world under-18 title in a flat sprint event.
“Running on such a big stage is a big experience for me,” Prepens told the IAAF.
“I feel good having won a gold medal and I’m looking forward to more such opportunities in future.”
Barbora Malikova of the Czech Republic took a clear win in the women’s 400m with 52.74, in a race which saw the top four all setting personal bests, taking her country’s first ever medal in this event in the history of the World Under-18 Championships.
The men’s 400m was a little closer, though, with Jamaica’s Antonio Watson winning in 46.59.
In the throws, Cuba’s Marisleisys Duarthe won the women’s javelin with 62.92m, while Liu Zhekai of China took the men’s event with 77.54m.
Mykhaylo Kokhan of the Ukraine lived up to his billing as favourite in the men’s hammer to win with 82.31m
Timo Northoff won the men’s shot put title with 20.71m, helping his country finish top of the points table where one point is given for eighth place, through to eight points for a victory.
“It’s been a great experience,” Northoff told the IAAF. “I’ve learnt a lot and my work will be to improve again in the next competition. I’m excited to bring the gold home.”
Selina Dantzler made it a German double in the shot put, too, with women’s victory after a 17.64m throw.
The men’s 10,000m race walk saw Zhang Yao win
China’s first world under-18
title while Dominic Ndigiti earned Kenya’s first global championship medal in a race walking event.
In the heptathlon, Maria Vicente of Spain beat Johanna Seibler of Germany by just 10 points while Steven Fauvel Clinch of France took the decathlon by a wider margin.
Brittany Anderson: hurdles success
Jordan Diaz: world under-18 best in the triple jump
One giant leap: athletes tackle the water jump in the men’s 2000m steeplechase
Jackline Wambui: led home a Kenyan one-two in the 800m
Selemon Barega: 3000m victory