Sports stars to look out for in 2019
Every year, several up-andcoming teenagers burst onto the sporting scene, while many experienced campaigners also tend to produce the goods when least expected!
Some youngsters make an immediate impact, others take time to establish themselves, while those who have been around for quite awhile, suddenly burst back onto the scene and do something extraordinary, against the odds.
And things will be exactly the same in 2019 when I feel the following will hit the headlines at some time or another.
■ Two footballers who’ve already caught the eye are Dutchman Frennie De Jong of Ajax (watched by Barcelona and Manchester City) and Harvey Barnes, currently on loan at West Bromwich Albion from Leicester. Others who should (or will) hit the headlines in 2019 are Phil Foden (Manchester City), Marcus Rashford (from neighbours United), David Brooks (Bournemouth), Reiss Nelson of Arsenal (on loan at Hoffenheim in Germany right now) and the Chelsea quartet of Ruben LoftusCheek, Andreas Christensen, Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudosn-Odoi. In the women’s game, two Manchester City Ladies, Georgia Stanway and Nikita Parris, will be awesome, likewise American Mallory Pugh of Washington Spirit
■ On the cricket field, youngsters Ollie Pope of Surrey and Pat Brown of Worcestershire were excellent last season. Batsman Pope, who played in two Tests against India, scored almost 1,000 runs overall for an average of 70, helping his county win the Championship. Spinner Brown starred at T20 level, taking 31 wickets, including 4-31 on finals day, when his county lifted the trophy. Also keep an eye on wicketkeeper/batsman Ben Foakes and all-rounder Sam Curran, both of Surrey and England, Jofra Archer of Sussex and the Hampshire spinner Mason Crane, plus the run-machine from India, Virat Kohli, and of course, England’s Joe Root and even Australia’s top woman Sophie Molineux.
■ Ireland’s Johnny Sexton, Joe Cokanasiga of England and Bath centre Jonathan Joseph will, I feel, produce the goods in Rugby Union, as will Welshman Dan Bigger and female star Hannah Botterman of Saracens Ladies.
■ In the small hard ball game of golf, I’m hoping that Rory McIlroy will regain his best form while Tommy Fleetwood, 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari, Spain’s Jon Rahn and GB’s Danny Willett will also star on the tour, as will the USA trio of Cameron Champ, Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele.
■ Lewis Hamilton, now 34, is already ‘favourite’ to win the F1 driver’s championship for a sixth time and he can easily do this. Other drivers hoping to succeed on four wheels are British rookies Lando Norris (McLaren) and George Russell (Williams), Spaniard Carlos Sainz junior and the returning Robert Kubica from Poland.
■ I expect Russia’s Karen Khachanov, who trains here in Spain, the British duo of Katie Swan and Jack Draper, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem and women stars Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka all to triumph at some level on the tennis courts. Draper (17) is the youngest player in the professional game right now and is ranked 421 in the world.
■ England speedster Dina Asher-Smith will, for sure, set more sprint records on the athletics track, with gold coming her way in the World Championships for starters. Britain’s two heptathletes, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and current world junior champion Niamh Emerson, can match Dina in terms of success. And also watch out for Sydney McLaughlin (400m hurdles) and Noah Lyles (200m), and don’t forget Mo Farah who will win a race (or two) somewhere.
■ In other sports, I expect Anthony Joshua and Josh King to throw a few damaging punches in the boxing ring… flat race jockeys James Doyle, Andrea Atzeni, Silvestre De Sousa, Oisin Murphy, Jim Crowley and Franny Norton, and four from over the sticks, Richard Johnson, Harry Skelton, Sam Twiston-Davies and Brian Hughes, will ride their fair share of winners, while 10time champion trainer Paul Nicholls will for sure send out more winning horses... swimmer Freya Anderson can splash herself to glory in the 100m, 200m and 400m races… Ellie Downie can certainly bounce to victory in gymnastics… Simon Yates, Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish will, I believe, successfully pedal their bikes to victory in their respective events… snooker ace Ronnie O’Sullivan and darters Adrian Lewis and Michael Smith can add more prizes to their personal collections… while Harry Kane and his team will score enough goals to steer England to victory in the Nations Cup and that Manchester City and Liverpool can lift four trophies between them? We’ll see.
Dina Asher Smith
Frennie De Jong